Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Rob Smith joined the United States Army at the age of 17. He served for nearly 5 years as a Tank Driver and Infantry Rifleman and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq before being honorably discharged, eventually earning the Army Commendation Medal, Expert Marksmanship Award, and the Combat Infantryman Badge among others.
After discovering his sexual orientation while serving, Smith chose not to re-enlist due to the added pressure of living under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy which bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. he embarked on the journey to help end DADT.
A graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Communications and Sociology, Rob has recently published well-received articles about his experiences serving in the U.S. Army under DADT and other gay political issues at The Huffington Post, USA Today, Salon.com, and AfterElton.com.
Recently, he has spoken out about his experiences and in support of DADT repeal at various colleges, universities, pride events, and nationally coordinated repeal efforts including Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, Alliant International University in San Diego, CA, The Human Rights Campaign's 2010 Veterans' Lobby Day against DADT in Washington, DC, The New Jersey State Gay Straight Alliance Summit in Maplewood, NJ, the American Veterans for Equal Rights 2010 Pride Awards in New York City, the New Jersey Gay Pride Parade and Rally in Asbury Park, NJ.
Rob was named one of Campus Pride’s “Top 25 Best of the Best” LGBT Speakers for 2010. He has lectured about DADT, coming out, and homophobia at various colleges and universities across the country.
He is a contributing author to the March 2012 release For Colored Boys, an anthology book featuring the stories of young gay men of color, and will release the memoir detailing his years spent in the United States Army and experiences serving in the Iraq war in the fall of 2012.
Lecture: Winning the War Against Homophobia
A decorated U.S. Army Iraq war veteran and out gay man, Rob Smith’s fight against the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy took him from the pages of The Huffington Post to various college campuses across the country to the front gates of the White House in protest. Drawing on past personal struggles with coming out, suicidal thoughts, and battling homophobia both on the battlefield and as an out gay undergraduate, Winning the War Against Homophobia is a compelling narrative designed to give a face to issues regarding LGBT youth today while facilitating discussion about coming out, homophobia, and creating safe spaces for openly gay students on college campuses.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell puts lives at risk . For a gay soldier like me, the military's policy undermined the very thing that every combat unit requires: Trust.
"Military Leader Memo: Your Gay soldiers Are No Longer Worthless.
"Low-Down Talk About Gays, HIV, and the DL from Sherri shepherd and D.L. Hughly .