So, we’re gonna keep on keeping it light for a while around this blog and we’re also gonna talk about a police officer and not about a police officer who shot a Black man in the streets.
No, we’re talking Deuntay Diggs, a 2nd Lieutenant for the county sheriff’s office in Stafford, Virginia.
We’re talking about the first openly gay cadet to attend the Virginia Military Institute, and also the first openly gay deputy to serve at the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office where he’s worked since 2008.
We’re talking about a man who has worked hard to be himself, to live openly, since deciding to come out as a gay man while at VMI.
“I didn’t really accept myself at the time, but one of the things that they beat into your head [at VMI] is integrity and honesty, so I didn’t want to lie to my fellow cadets.”
He also didn’t want to lie to his foster family, who disowned him the minute he told them he was gay. He told one person at the school, and asked her not to tell anybody, but she did and then it was everywhere. Diggs says he spent “roughly the next year in isolation:”
“That was the worst year of my life, but also the best. I had to figure out how to love myself, and what I wanted to be.”
And now, because of all that, Deuntay Diggs, in addition to being a police officer, is also a motivational speaker who tackles the issues of race, abuse, and how people currently perceive law enforcement.
“With all the controversy surrounding law enforcement, I can kind of see both sides. I grew up in a very bad environment, where drugs and prostitution were prevalent, and so I was taught to hate the police and that the police were bad.”
And he does it by dancing; he has posted videos of his performances to Instagram where he’s a bit of a sensation, but nothing rivaling the media darling he became last week after dancing to Beyoncé’s “Formation” at a North Stafford High School Pep Rally:’
“I basically learned the choreography the night before I performed it for the first time. I’m a huge Beyoncé fan. So the night before, I just watched her video on YouTube over and over again, and then I memorized it, practiced it, and the next day I did it.”
He first performed the song back in August for a lip syncing contest to benefit children who needed school supplies so it isn’t just for fun, for fame, it’s for good. But his latest performance almost didn’t happen; Diggs originally cancelled his plans for the rally when he found out on Tuesday that his biological mother has terminal cancer, but it was talking to her that changed his mind:
“We’re sitting there talking and I said, ‘Well, I want you at my wedding because we’re supposed to dance together.’ And she hasn’t seen any of my dancing videos. So we sat and laughed for a little bit and watched the videos, and she said, ‘Well, I want you to keep on dancing.’ So I came back and I told them I wasn’t going to cancel.”
Diggs is engaged to Benjamin Leitner, his partner of seven years and a teacher at North Stafford High School; they plan on getting married July 7, 2017, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
“The reason I’m doing this is to show kids that they can make it, that they can survive, that they can be successful. I’ve been very fortunate, at this time when people look negatively upon law enforcement, that I’m able to change that narrative and open up some conversations and engage with people. That’s what this is about, loving one another and agreeing to disagree, but being respectful.”
And it’s about showing people, especially these days, that it isn’t the police officers who are the enemies, it isn’t the police officers who are the bad guys; it’s some officers, sometimes.