03 February 2010

The gay thing

The whole brouhaha about Don't Ask, Don't Tell's possibly pending demise...

LabRat hit it out of the park on this one, just for the record.

But as far as I'm concerned...

I've been doing this whole "in uniform" thing for a while.  I've had a couple of mildly-awkward encounters with gals who...played for the other team (no more challenging to square away than mildly-awkward encounters with military dudes, by the way).  I had an incredibly amusing run-in with a gay Navy Corpsman while I was in the Marine Corps, who, after overhearing me ask a video store employee if they had Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, asked if I was "a member of the tribe."  (No, just a big fan of heartwarming drag-queen movies)

But the thing that sticks in my mind is...someone I knew at one point.  A person significantly senior to me.  Hell, senior to a whole lot of us.  Nearing the end of a long and very distinguished career.  Now, the prevailing wisdom was that said senior servicemember was probably queer as a three-dollar bill.  I don't know that - but it was the community assumption.  The thing that struck me as unfair was that this individual, who had a "roommate" of significant permanance, it seemed, went to all the social events alone.

I get that a lot of military folks are a little creeped-out by the idea of the gay pride stereotype leering at them from the next bunk over, but I don't think that's probably the sort of thing that's going to happen a whole lot.  Hell, women are outnumbered eight zillion to one, and there aren't that many cases of excessively creepy man-on-woman leering.

The thing that I find offensive about DADT is the lying and ommission that it forces.  When we're in an operational position where we've realized that a servicemember's personal support structure is vital to coping with the stresses that are piled on during endless deployments, it doesn't seem right to me to make some servicemembers pretend they don't have personal lives.

Ever gotten a Dear John (or Jane) letter?  Imagine if you'd gotten it in a combat zone eight months into a 14-month deployment.  Now imagine you couldn't tell anybody.

Ever been to a promotion ceremony where someone's husband put her Chief Petty Officer rank on her collar?  A retirement where the retiree's wife got flowers?  A unit barbecue where PFC Umptyfratz shows up with the latest tacky chick he's found?  The normal events of military life in which we involve our servicemembers' loved ones in order to create the sense of community that is so very important when times get hard?

A welcome-home ceremony at the airport where the wives run out and hug their husbands, the husbands run out to hug their wives, the parents run out to hug their kids?  And maybe...somewhere in the back of the group, a man walks up and delivers the warmest, happiest, most-socially-acceptable-handshake ever, to another man?

If gay people really are the threat to our national defense that some make them out to be, then our policy should be to never let them serve.  But since we do, and since they're in our ranks, it is the decent and human and correct thing to do to not make them lie about it.