Gay Iraq War veteran brings “Closets, Combat, and Coming Out” to IC


Openly gay Iraq war veteran, journalist, author, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist (LGBT), Rob Smith, will bring his lecture, “Closets, Combat, and Coming Out,” to Illinois College on Friday, March 22, at 7 p.m. in Sibert Theatre.

Smith served for five years in the United States Army as an infantryman, earning the Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. He made his literary debut in August of 2012 in the anthology, For Colored Boys, which won the 2012 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award for Nonfiction and was recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

In November 2010, Smith was arrested with 12 other LGBT rights activists at the front gates of the White House while protesting the U.S. Military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” law which barred open military service by gays and lesbians. In December of that same year he was an invited guest of President Barack Obama at the ceremony which saw the repeal of the discriminatory law signed and put into effect.

A graduate with honors from Syracuse University, Smith is a noted journalist with work published at, USA Today, and The Huffington Post among many others. He travels around the country speaking at college campuses about his experiences with coming out, serving as a gay soldier, creating safe spaces for all students in college communities, and participating in the ongoing fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. He has lectured at dozens of colleges and universities including Virginia Tech, Hofstra University and Vanderbilt University among many others.

His memoir, Closets, Combat, and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Army, will be released on January 14, 2014, via Blue Beacon Books. For more information about Rob Smith, email or visit
About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Ill. With an enrollment of about 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs and a Master of Arts in Education degree program. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit or call 217-245-3467 for more information.

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