Since her release from prison, Chelsea Manning has become a social media star and prominent voice in the LGBT community, as more and more state legislatures and even the White House try to limit LGBT rights. In an interview with Vogue, Manning revealed how she began to find herself on the internet but eventually came to the conclusion that the military was the only she’d be able to figure out who she was.
Manning had a turbulent adolescence and a near-miss during the 2005 London bombings led to her moving in and out with various family members. Eventually, she ended up with an aunt in Maryland and would travel to D.C. to explore the city’s LGBT scene:
“That’s the part of my life I replay the most: whether or not, living in Maryland and seeing a therapist, I could have finally been able to say, ‘This is who I am; this is what I want to do.’ It was the first time in my life when I really considered transitioning. But I got scared,” she tells me. “I really regret the fact that I didn’t know or realize I already had the love I needed, especially from my aunt and sister—just to seek support.”
Rather, she made a defiantly different choice. It was the moment of the so-called surge in Iraq. The news on TV was grim. “I don’t know who I am,” she recalls in the park. “Maybe the military will allow me to figure that out.” She looks out toward the river. “It was a naive thought, but it was very real to me in 2007.”
The interview also covers a lot of other ground, including Manning’s scramble while on leave from the military to get major newspapers interested in what she eventually gave to Wikileaks. The whole thing is worth a read and gives you a real sense of Manning’s positive perspective on her life.