Sgt. 1st Class Lina Knox has completed three deployments in nearly 15 years with the Minnesota National Guard.
MINNEAPOLIS – Sgt. 1st Class Lina Knox has completed three deployments in nearly 15 years with the Minnesota National Guard.
When she came in to enroll in 2007 at the age of 21, she had to say she was someone she wasn’t because our military didn’t ask – and she didn’t didn’t say anything.
Lina knew as a child in north Minneapolis that she wanted to be someone for a lot when she could. So, 10 days after turning 21, she went to enlist.
“I looked at a National Guard advertisement and I thought, ‘I think I’m going to do this,’ and I went to a recruiting office in Roseville and I said, ‘Don’t give me one line, I will sign today. ‘ And I did, “she said.
Knox signed knowing that the sacrifice could be her life, and yet signed knowing that she would have to sacrifice her truth.
“At least to get into the army, you had to be very careful because there were documents to fill out which actually said that you are, in a nutshell, that you are not homosexual; you are not going to participating in gay activities – all of those things. I didn’t want that to define who I was because I really wanted to serve, “Knox said.
She did not say on the form that she was gay – a fact she has known since she was 13. She continued to serve, and it turns out that this is the course many men and women who serve as gay men and women in the military take.
“There was, like, everyone was gay. Like, there were 20 people on my first deployment. Everyone was cool, it was awesome,” Knox said. “It felt like it was part of our life, but it didn’t define us.”
Knox also wore another not so easily camouflaged identity.
“There are a few of us who are a person of color and who are part of the LGBTQ community, and we really are unicorns in the military,” she said.
Those who served under “don’t ask, don’t say” played by rules they didn’t set, but along the way some got lucky.
In 2008, while deployed to Iraq, Knox met a senior military official – a gay woman whom she would eventually marry.
“It’s great that she understands the things I’m going through and vice versa,” Knox said.
Knox told KARE that of all vacations, sharing Veterans Day with his wife makes it “the best.” She and his wife loved and adored serving their country, and now each other.