If you haven’t heard, there’s a debate raging in Congress, and to a lesser extent in living rooms, at dinner tables, on sports fields, in classrooms, in barbershops, at churches and yes – within the military itself. The topic – the concept of gay men and women openly serving in the military. Contentious? Certainly. A certainty? Probably. Already existing? Definitely. And my thoughts, oh yeah, you’re gonna get ‘em.
For those who’ve been living in a cave for the past 17 years, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policy was emplaced by former President Clinton back when he ruled the world. I always thought it was weird why and how he chose to tackle the whole “gays in the military” thing when he did because his actions seemed to draw attention to a group of people who had quietly been serving in the military for decades. In fact, I think more Soldiers got thrown out after the policy was in place than before, but I could be wrong. I frequently am.
There are now, and have always been gay men and women serving in the military. A joke I’ve heard more than once – Question, What’s the difference between a straight marine and a gay marine? Answer, a six pack (of beer). Alcohol influenced decisions aside, there will always be negative reactions to something foreign, feared, misunderstood or ingrained in one’s head as being immoral, unethical or wrong. That, my friends, is human nature. But the issue of gays openly serving in the military is something which provokes reaction at a visceral level.
I think all the yahoos in Congress (specifically the esteemed gentleman from Arizona) and the babbling Wonkheads on TV have it slightly wrong. DADT will change to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military. If you openly and vehemently oppose a policy change, then you are out of touch with the constituents you serve and detached from the people the policy will mostly effect – the junior enlisted Soldiers who make up the bulk of the military and who are generally younger and more open to the idea. I don’t care if you served before, I’m serving now and have witnessed change.
I’ve never been a fan of Dick Cheney for all the warped bile and vitriol which seems to flow from his mouth, but I think he came close to a decent explanation when he said it’s a generational thing. I would go a few steps further, Dick. Yes, younger Soldiers are probably more likely to be open and accepting of a gay member within their unit, but there will always be resistance. I’ve discovered a few things which factor into someone’s opinion on the gay thing: age, education, gender, party identity, rural vs urban, a gay relative, geographical location in the states, religious upbringing, and the field in which one works. Then there’s the nebulous psychological part which definitely factors into the equation, but I’m no psychiatrist and won’t offer much of an explanation from that angle.
Most military women I’ve talked to seem to have fewer issues with gays openly serving. Oh sure, I know exceptions, both of whom are very educated. One baffles me in her opposition, the other is a complete head case who you’ll learn about in great detail in a future update. Guys on the other hand are hard to predict. I always expect some opinionated argument against policy change and am often not disappointed. However, one can never really tell who will be pro or anti change.
Your stereotypical status quo supporter – either more senior in rank (Sergeant First Class and higher for enlisted, Major and higher for officers), OR – a high school/GED educated young male from the rural South who is somewhat to very religious, self identifies with the Republican party, has no gay family or friends, serves in a combat arms unit and suffers insecurities of some type. Again, I’ve been surprised by some guys’ positions on the whole policy change thing but usually if you’re from a rural area, especially a southern rural area, are Republican and religious, you’re a hater. But why? I’ve tried to figure that out. Let’s look at this in some detail.
I think the first thing most heterosexual Soldiers (aka breeders) associate with gay and lesbian Soldiers isn’t the work ethic, or the man’s quick wit and dapper sense of style, or the woman’s ability to change a tire and skillfully handle power tools, it’s not how they excel at Soldier of the Month competitions or promotion boards, it’s the stereotypical behavior associated with gay men and lesbians seen in the media whenever a gay pride parade or similar event gets coverage. Again, it’s this foreign, sometimes over the top, one could say flamboyant behavior which breeders unequivocally assume will come out of the woodwork once the DADT policy changes. But it’s more than just behavior.
How should the military implement changes? Will someone be reprimanded for saying “This is gay!” whenever a stupid rule is imposed? Or will you get yelled at for saying “Don’t be a fag!” when you don’t want to do something as peer pressure kicks in? Where will gay Soldiers sleep, shower, live, etc? Probably in the same place they sleep, shower and live right now, but how does one decide who lives with whom, where? Should a Commander ascertain the sexual orientation of a new Soldier during in-processing to a unit before assigning him a room? I can imagine the interview going something like this: what’s your date of birth, home of record, next of kin, make/model of your car, do you suck dick?
Will there be separate living quarters for benders (gays) and breeders? Could one house a bender dude with a breeder chick or vice versa? Why not, they’re both sexually interested in the same thing. Come on folks, it shouldn’t boil down to with whom someone has sex. But I think that’s the biggest fear and misconception behind resistance. Well, almost.
There’s also the whole “showering together” thing. Hey, currently I shower in a bldg equipped with 6 (I think) separate stalls. There’s a modicum of privacy. However, at Camp Bullis, TX (see update #6) the showers were together in a square room, 6 spigots total. That honestly sucked – but not because some gay dude could’ve been checking out my baby-maker. Hell, breeders – the guys anyway – always check out each other’s junk with a quick, furtive glance. It’s a guy thing – ya know, comparing. And if your boyfriend, husband, son, or brother tell you otherwise he’s bull-shittin’ ya. Checking out another dude’s junk doesn’t make you gay. If that was the case ladies – 95% of you would never get laid. The shower at Bullis sucked because it sucked.
The more vociferous the opposition to changing the policy, usually the more mentally unstable or insecure the originator of the rant. My favorite is the macho, wanna-be guy, the one who constantly tries to impress other guys, who is marginally ugly – in an ugly way, who’s got no game with the ladies, is insecure in so many areas, emotionally unstable at times and almost needy. He’s probably a closet bender but doesn’t know it yet and he loudly proclaims how he doesn’t “Want no faggot checking me out in the shower.” Those guys are funny. I mean, come on dude, you’re repulsive to look at, are a mental wreck, have the intellectual capacity of a Chihuahua, you’re hung like a gnat, and you’ve got no muscle tone and pallid skin. Even Jeffrey Dahlmer wouldn’t be interested, and you’re worried about a gay dude checking you out in the shower. Whaaaaaatever…. You probably have to pay for sex.
I’ve served with gays and lesbians for years, some of them obvious, some undetectable. Just like breeders, these benders were cut from many cloths, so to speak. Some were outstanding Soldiers – role models for others. One in particular was a female First Sergeant of mine (that’s the most senior enlisted person in a company usually responsible for 100+ Soldiers). Angela was incredibly proficient at her job, very approachable, tough as nails, exuded professionalism & the warrior ethos and you could always get a fair shake with her. I’ve served with others who unfortunately were the exact opposite. All I ask and demand is that gay or straight, you do your job and do it well.
The argument that allowing benders to serve openly in the military (with two on-going wars! Oh No!) will both disrupt good order and discipline and compel Soldiers to get out the military or prevent new ones from signing up is ludicrous. Let’s face it, there will always be a conflict of one kind or another. Can you say – military industrial complex? Insisting that the US must wait until we’re at peace is saying “Hell no, we ain’t changing, ever.” How many of you have family members trying to get a job in this economy? Employers aren’t going door to door looking to hire bigots who are strenuously opposed to working with gays. Hell, in this economy you’re lucky if you have a stable job. Therefore, I highly doubt there will be a mass exodus from each of the services when the policy changes. If “worse comes to worse”, I’m certain someone will choose a steady paycheck and a gay coworker over no paycheck or uncertain employment status. Layoffs, anyone? And if they don’t, if they choose to leave the service – then I say good riddance! I’d rather serve with an effeminate fag or butch dyke than a bigoted breeder any day.