If there was an award for “Group of the Decade” it would have to go to the GLBT movement.
From Ellen’s Brokeback to Will & Kathy Griffin, gays and their allies marched into the mainstream with new adjectives: friendly, witty, fun, Dad, sister and neighbor. If that wasn’t enough, even during the years under the conservative grip of the right-wing, Congress passed a few unpublicized laws that benefited same-sex partners financially. Liberal states began allowing marriage and middle-of-the-road counties also gave gay couples some sort of validation through domestic partnership status.
And now, on to the military.
Although my favorite toy as a child was a plastic M-16, I never was interested in enlisting. Not because I’m a lesbian. No, that really hasn’t stopped me from pursuing life choices. As a matter of fact, after high school I wanted to enter the convent. I only changed my mind after I was told that they were really serious about the no sex thing. Man, those nuns are strict. Anyway, I didn’t want to join because I like air-conditioning and I generally don’t like guns. At least not when they are fired. It hurts my ears.
I am still a fan of the military, though. I think soldiers, teachers and first responders should get paid like the New Orleans Saints offensive line. A few members of my family and friends were once military and they are all real stand-up people. One of them, a friend, is now retired from service and is a successful interior designer. He fought in the first Iraq war. And is super gay. Was gay then, still gay now. Super.
Obviously, he didn’t rip the sleeves off of his uniform shirt or turn his fatigue pants into cut-off shorts (he wears those during Pride week). He didn’t show up for morning drills in drag and the last thing he was thinking about was seducing one of the members of his platoon during his daily 20 second ice-cold shower. During combat in Iraq, the only hose he used was the one of his refueling truck. It actually won him commendations for his heroic journey through heavy enemy fire to help a stranded truck of soldiers get out of harm’s way.
Good thing the Iraqis didn’t have gaydar – or the Americans for that matter.
I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that gays have been in the military for as long as we’ve had a military. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will just prevent good gay soldiers from being thrown out for the sole reason of being gay. This doesn’t mean anything else. It’s not like, God forbid, the partner of a fallen soldier will get benefits of any kind. Or that the partner of a living soldier could be covered under his/her health insurance. No. It’s just, “Stay if you’re Gay”.
Damn. That’s a good slogan.
So there will be “Stay if you’re Gay” hearings, op-eds, cable news specials, interviews and that profile on the out gay soldier that will be cuter than Beetle Baily and a body more sculpted than The Situation’s.
But, with asking and telling, there comes a price. The dark side of testosterone-driven hazing will undoubtedly come to light. Especially if gay and lesbian soldiers are raped at the same rate straight women soldiers really are. Perhaps this is really why some don’t want to open the latch on Pandora’s box. But, I say, maybe diversity is a good thing. Let there be differences. Sure, there will be problems, but how else can we learn from each other? Imagine having the toughest, most expensive military in the world that also has respect and understanding for its fellow man.
That army would be fierce.