Alabama. Archives - StoryCorps

Love In The Time Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: “I Was Ready To Bust Out Of The Closet With Rainbows And Glitter.”

Mike Rudulph grew up near Birmingham, Alabama and enlisted in the Marines when he was 20 years old. At the time, he hoped that the military environment would bring him the sense of purpose he had been missing.

This was in 2000, during the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” when LGBTQ people in the military couldn’t serve openly.

Mike went on his first deployment to Iraq in 2003. When he got home, he met the man who would later become his husband, Neil Rafferty.

Photo: Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty at their StoryCorps interview in Birmingham, Alabama on April 18, 2015. By Carolina Escobar for StoryCorps. 

They got married in 2018, the same year that Neil ran for public office in Alabama — and won! He is the first openly gay man to serve in the Alabama State legislature. 

At StoryCorps in Birmingham, Alabama, Mike and Neil sat down to remember the early days of their relationship.

Top Photo: Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty in 2019. Courtesy of Mike Rudulph.
Bottom Photo: Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty. Courtesy of Neil Rafferty.

Originally aired August 15, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.