Becoming a Navy SEAL was no walk in the park for author Brett Jones, who faced obstacles long before he earned the distinction of serving with one of the most elite groups of service personnel sworn to protect the United States. He shares both those struggles and what happened after the Navy learned he was gay during an era of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in his new memoir. The book is more than a chronicle of adversity, showcasing what can happen when someone believes in himself.
One day, Brett Jones was a Navy SEAL, jumping out of a plane in Yuma, Ariz., with a full combat load during a training session. The next, he’s been summoned to headquarters and learns he’s being investigated for being homosexual.
“Pride: The Story of the First Openly Gay Navy SEAL” follows Jones first through a somewhat troubled childhood made worse by ADHD and parents who reject their gay son, all the way through his final days in the Navy. Jones, who knew from the time that he was in elementary school that he liked men, eventually found the discipline to make it first through basic training at Great Lakes Naval Base to Basic Underwater Demolition School, a six-month program required of SEALs. Although he dropped out, he worked hard to get back into the program again, this time graduating.
Throughout his military career, Jones kept his homosexuality in the closet, being discovered through one casual act that would change his life. He honestly shares his faults but also his triumphs, such as the first successful mission as a Navy SEAL in Iraq. This behind-the-scenes look at the competition and hardship it takes to join the elite organization shows Jones’ determination to live a life well and – eventually – in complete honesty.
Author Brett Jones spent his earliest years traveling around the world, thanks to being born into a military family in 1974, visiting the pyramids of Egypt, the Korean Demilitarized Zone and living in the shadows of the Iron Curtain. He served for almost a decade in the Navy, becoming a SEAL and surviving two six-month deployments with SEAL Team 8 and later as a plank owner of SEAL Team 10. Jones received many commendations and awards but was forced out of the closet, becoming the first openly gay Navy SEAL on active duty. He was honorably discharged in 2003 and worked as a security contractor. He and his husband, former police sergeant Jason White, and their son live in northern Alabama. They founded and operate Riley Security.