Major Brian Dix came to Washington in May 1984 with the Marine Corps and at the end of last year, retired as director of the Commandant’s Own — United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps. He was only the fourth director of the group since its 1934 founding.
During his 16 years directing the Corps, he wrote original compositions such as “Reveille,” a swing march dedicated to wounded warriors, “Birth of a Drum Corps” for the 75th anniversary of the Corps and “Corpsman Up,” a march dedicated to the Navy corpsman who served alongside the Marines.
He received many personal decorations for his work including the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star for heroic achievement and a Navy Certificate of Commendation for his volunteer work at the National Naval Medical Center.
The 54-year-old Newark, N.J., native also says it was a thrill to be in Washington for so many historical events.
“I was there when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ came into law and Paul and I were there when DADT was dissolved,” he says. “One day the Supreme Court said, ‘Hey guys, go get married.’ And we did.”
Dix and Paul Andrews were together six years prior to their September 2012 wedding. They’re taking their time traveling around the country in an SUV en route to their new home in San Diego where Dix plans to pursue “different avenues in music.”
Dix enjoys music, yard work and reading about world affairs in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I don’t think I was ever “in.” I never hid my persona during a lifelong military career. When the nation steered toward a different course regarding relationships and marriage, it seems like a non-issue to come “out.” It was simple. Actually, it was very simple especially with Paul, a terrific partner along with friends and colleagues who never judged.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
The Supreme Court
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Probably during my younger years, Badlands was the place to be. Friday and Saturday nights was the best escape for a younger guy to dance the night away. Many times, my straight Marine buddies would tag along to dance and to meet girls. And they did meet some nice women. What a great place at the perfect time.
Describe your dream wedding.
Mission complete. My husband Paul and I were married in our community of Capitol Hill at the Hill Center. We both resided near Eastern Market for many years and knew this was the perfect venue. The Old Navy Hospital was the ideal location due to Paul being a nurse, and of course, my Navy-Marine Corps side. The Rev. Cara Spacarelli from Christ Church married us in front of a large group of family, friends and friendly professionals.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Hunger. Too many people within local communities go without daily meals. This is where people can make a difference through monetary or subsistent donations to local food banks. Feed your neighbors. This makes a huge difference.
What historical outcome would you change?
The Cuba embargo should have been lifted years ago. It’s a rewarding moment to see America back on the right track of good neighboring. This sets a good example for future generations.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The last episode of “The Carol Burnett Show.” It was the great finale of an entertainment era.
On what do you insist?
No cell phones during a conversation.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My husband and I are currently traveling to San Diego via the rest of America in our retirement “victory lap.” The drive has brought us to places we have always wanted to visit where they are all clearly documented on Facebook. I have a terrific photo at Johnny Mercer’s gravesite, which should be up this week. For the non-gays who might read this, go look up Johnny Mercer.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“My Feet Have Wings”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Don’t alter a thing. People’s identities are what make this world spin. Nature is wonderful in this way.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep the momentum going and don’t stop.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I spent the better part of my life supporting and defending people’s freedoms. Be yourself. Nothing really bothers me.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Birdcage” of course. A laugh-out riot. I saw it in the theater with my straight Marine buds who fell on the floor laughing.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Texting before a phone call.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Handwritten letters from my Marines.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That it all works out.
Paul and I enjoyed every moment of our time in Washington, D.C. To personally witness its transformation toward its current gentrified state has been a pleasure. And, to be aboard our nation’s capital during so many moments of history starting from the Reagan era, every presidential inauguration, to births and memorials, all while history unfolded. Some of which, we were part of. What a great place during a great time.