On Tuesday, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was put in the trash bin of bad policies where it belonged. I — along with many other people, liberal and conservative —consider Bill Clinton a pretty smart guy, but what the hell was he thinking when he introduced this nonsensical legislation? I can only fathom that, at its introduction, it was actually progress. It did, after all, take the question of sexuality out of soldiers’ paperwork. That’s also assuming that progress dictates you lie to both yourself and your sergeant, which isn’t exactly good military policy.

I took part in a photo campaign this time last year called the NOH8 Campaign, which was a grassroots response led by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska against Proposition 8 in California, an initiative that reversed the state’s policy on marriage equality. The campaign also held a strong opposition to DADT, on which there was set to be a vote in the Senate the day after the photo shoot. And obviously we all expected that it would be overturned but, shockingly, it wasn’t.

A few weeks after the congressional decision and the president’s refusal to write it off in an executive order, I sent a rather pissed-off letter to Obama. I realize that I’m just one little guy, but lots of little guys like me eventually make up a mob of people who’d be voting for the other side come November if the president didn’t firm up some of the promises on which he’d campaigned.

I had experience writing presidents and not getting responses, as I had written George W. Bush about my concerns when I was in the fifth grade and, therefore, I had little hope that this would prove any more fruitful; Obama was different. I wrote that I hoped he could envision a country where all men truly were created equal, one where soldiers were required to shoot straight, not be straight. I said that I found it ridiculous that anyone would sacrifice national security because of an opposition to someone’s personal relationships.

According to the letter I received two weeks after DADT was finally repealed, he apparently had always agreed but had a great concern that a mandate for repeal would prove a weak foundation for equality in the military.

The reason I bring up DADT for this column isn’t just because of its ending this week, but also because of an article I read recently in The Washington Post. The article mentioned 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer who had taken part in the “It Gets Better Project,” a sort of video compilation where various celebrities and citizens talk about the difficulties of being bullied. It went on to explain that Rodemeyer had recently killed himself due to bullying. The correlation I see between DADT and Rodemeyer’s unfortunate suicide is the fact that people act so damn surprised to find that when they spread hate, children take it to heart.

Adolescents watch these insipid televised debates or listen to the mindless banter of pundits where the topic of same-sex marriage will arise, and yet parents don’t have enough sense to explain to their children that it’s all politics — or better yet, parents don’t have the sense sometimes to turn the damn television off. Could you imagine being gay and hearing some crazy, well-dressed man equate a McDonald’s advertisement to advocating acceptance of al-Qaida, all while inferring that your dad has no disagreement that “the gays must be terrorists”? When you’re telling your constituents that there’s a fundamental problem with gay people, you’re telling that to kids, too. And not to sound insensitive to families who’ve lost children due to people who can’t watch their mouths, but why are politicians so damn surprised when teens jump off of a bridge or hang themselves? It’s the fault of society’s ignorance.

I think it’s the responsibility of society to overturn the homophobic discourse that we hear, whether it’s among politicians or students. I feel like I’m in one of those commercials for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where they confess to be Mormon after talking about their daily routines: “I am a believer, I am a student-athlete, I am a straight, white male — but I believe in equality.” And the simple fact is, we as a society shouldn’t find a disconnection between religion and love, athletics and tolerance. Most of all, we shouldn’t find a disconnection between our own sexual orientation and our willingness to help someone whose differs.