Wednesday, September 07, 2011

post repeal...

This post, by Peter, and other conversations like it have had me thinking lately--thinking about self-worth, about catharsis, about acceptance and assimilation, but mostly about myself.

Sep 11, 2000 is the day I joined the Army. Nine days short of eleven years later I will finally, officially, be able to say that I am a gay man, and have been since I joined. I've dealt with my share of bigots, my share of support and a full spectrum in between. From friends who have stopped talking to me, friends who have said, "Why would you think I care?", friends who ask me, still, years later, "You're kidding right?" and others who said, "You should met my brother..."

But the weight, as I see it lifted not just off my shoulders, but also off my friends' shoulders is amazing. The sense of belonging and relief that is palpable is...nothing short of remarkable. I told Peter last night, it's like the moment after a 12 mile ruck march when everyone drops their rucks and walks to the water buffalo looking as though they'd suddenly lost forty pounds.  I've had more skype conversations, phone calls, IM chats and other communications with Captains, Cadets, Lieutenants and others finally no longer scared to tell their friends, roommates, parents...

I've written, over the years, in code and anonymously, here in 2005 for the Service Members Legal Defense Network about my conflict between wanting to quit the Academy and wanting to stay in,  after that decision, which Andrew Sullivan posted on his blog (and I can no longer find a link to).

But, today what I was thinking about in particular was how people like Peter and others are proving, very quickly, that the real reason the right didn't want to repeal Don't Ask/Don't Tell had nothing to do with military readiness or "the troops" and it had everything to do with using the military as a firewall against the collapse of bigotry.

My own Representative, Darrell Issa, was at least open about it (again...I'm lacking a quote)--he didn't want to repeal DADT because he knew it would lead to marriage equality.  Republicans (yes, this is a partisan issue), have continued to hold fast to the idea that if they could keep the military segregated, then they could also count on the military and Servicemembers remaining blissfully ignorant of the LGB (and yes, T) comrades already among them.  If they didn't know their friends, bunkmates, shipmates, battlebuddes, wingmen and A-gunners were LGBT, then they would return to their civilian lives espousing the same ignorant bigotry as before they joined.

However, because of situations like the one Peter wrote of above (and despite fear-mongering to the contrary), Servicemembers are some of the most fiercely loyal to their comrades.  No real Soldier will serve side by side with me or Peter and walk away knowing that we're not equals and not say anything.  When you see a fellow Soldier wronged, you do something to help, it's just how it is.

And now, the most "absolutely American" institution there is, the military, is on the verge of no longer denying that those soldiers are LGBT and thus, their rights will be fought for by every one of us (of course there will be a few hold-outs, but they will be negligable).  And society at large will follow suit because they too can no longer deny the reality of equality. 

We are close to putting this debate behind us...and amazing in itself.


Post a Comment

<< Home