You may have noticed it’s Fleet Week here in New York. (We’ve certainly noticed at the ANIMAL office: the Blue Angels flew just past our Hell’s Kitchen window yesterday.) What you may have forgotten is that it’s the first Fleet Week since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in September, and it is thus the first “out” Fleet Week in 25 years. And you better believe New York is celebrating. A slew of gay bars and hotels are offering special Fleet Week specials for gay servicemembers. Here are some highlights from DNAinfo:

– The “Do Ask, Please Tell” cocktail at the Maritime Hotel’s La Bottega.

– The “USS Rockit” party at XL Nightclub, to be hosted by Pierre Fitch, a gay porn star.

– The “Served with Pride” T-shirt (or tank top) free with a room at OUT NYC, New York’s first gay hotel. (The rooms are discounted by 30%, and will continue to be discounted for any servicemember staying at the hotel.)

A spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Zeke Stokes, said in past years, military personell ran the risk of being fired if found to be at these kinds of venues. “If they chose to go, they were always looking over their shoulders, just like they were all the time. This is a new day for servicemembers because they’re now free to serve openly without fear of being fired.”

It’s also a chance for many of New York City’s gay citizens to finally, and openly, bag a sailor.(Photo: Jackie/Flickr)