Thursday, March 25, 2010

Q is for Queer

I'm going to talk about Gays in the military. Before I start, I'm fully aware that "queer" isn't politically correct, thank you - no need to comment or email about it. I also say that some things are "lame" or "retarded". We'll address political correctness another day....

This woman I know named... let's say Emily, believes that being gay is a choice. I met Emily at the LYS and I love her! She's funny and kind and has a gaggle of kids that she homeschools (4 or 5 of 'em!) which is much braver then anything I've ever done. She's fairly religious and I'm not. We talk about things but there's lots of things we don't talk about because we have very fundamentally opposing views and none of it's really relevant to knitting so we just don't discuss, right?

She thinks being gay is a choice, in fact she knows it to be true just as I know for a fact that it's not true.

One day at the shop, we were talking about gays in the military; it was a subject brought up by another person at the shop. One of the points that came up was regarding security clearance. Emily said, "They usually aren't eligible for a high security clearance because if they get that clearance then go gay, they lose their clearance and get kicked out of the military."

I had to laugh and said, "Yea, you gotta hate when they go gettin' all gay on you!" We all had a laugh and Emily blushed a bit and made her real point which was that if a person is in the military and they come out of the closet, they get kicked out then the military loses time and tons of money having to train someone else to take their place. Which is true and a really good point!

She also brought up the valid point that if someone decides they don't want to deploy to Iraq or something, they can "come out of the closet" and just get out of the military. That's true but I had to add that it wasn't that easy and that it wasn't exactly an honorable discharge so I don't think that happens too often. She conceded that it was, in fact, rare.

Another person asked how the military knew since Emily said they don't give that kind of high clearance to gays. I said that they couldn't know for sure but that more often then not, in the MOS's (military jobs) that didn't involve the field pretty much everyone knows who the gay soldiers are. I also said that in my short (5 year) experience in the Army, nobody really cared as long as you were a good soldier.

At Ft. Huachuca, where I spent my last 2 years in, I worked at the hospital. I was on the Women's Meddac Softball team and out of 15 women, I was one of 2 and 1/2 that were straight. (Evelyn was Bi. Her theory was, "Why limit yourself?" Why indeed, Ev, why indeed.) Nobody in the hospital cared. At all.

If you were a fuck-up, it could be one of many reasons they can kick you out. It's pretty damn hard to prove though. They essentially have to have an eye-witness, written or photographic proof. Or a confession.

When I was in Basic Training, a girl came out of the closet. Her stupid bunkmate was snooping through B's things and found a letter that B had written to her girlfriend. Her bunkmate took the letter to the DS. The DS told the bunkmate to mind her own damn business and made her do a bunch of push-ups for going through someone else's things. B wanted out. She hated Basic Training and we were all sitting around talking about it and she starts crying and saying that she should just go "confess" so she could get out. We smacked her upside the head and reminded her that the real Army wouldn't be like Basic Training, we were only 2 weeks from graduating BT, and it would be a dishonorable discharge!! We talked her out of it but a bunch of the other women in the platoon had a real problem with her being gay. I said that was the most retarded thing I'd ever heard, "Y'all had no problem with her yesterday when she was bustin' her ass with the rest of us. What's different today? She's the exact same person."

I think the whole "don't ask, don't tell" bullshit was one of the biggest presidential copouts in American history. It was a political move to appease both sides without really appeasing either. It looks as though it may be overturned soon and that gays can be as open as they'd like in the military.

It's such a non-issue though! It's not like gays are going to be making out at work any more then hetero's do. It's all so stupid.

I know in the bulk of the "real" military where it's all guys and a lot of them are homophobic, it would be difficult but if everyone can just see that these are the same people they were yesterday when no one "knew" about their private lives.... know what I'm sayin'?

I asked my friend Phil what he thought about it all. I asked if he knew of any gay SEALS, he laughed and said no. Then he said that statistically, there had to be some but he never knew of any. I also laughed and agreed that with the guys he worked with, they'd have to be pretty deeply closeted.

He also brought up that the military was voluntary and for someone to come into this institution knowing the rules and then cry foul because their rights are being trod upon was ludicrous. I fully agree with that as well. He also reminded me that when you sign up for the military you sign a binding contract that, essentially, makes you government property and also that very clearly states you have to do as you are told. For now, they are telling people to keep it in the closet. I agree with that point as well. It's not like a person stumbles into the military with their eyes shut. The recruiters are very thorough when going over every single piece of paperwork you need to sign.

I want "don't ask, don't tell" to be overturned but for now it's not and as it stands you have to stay in the closet. Everyone knows that. For someone to come into this voluntarily and then try to make waves is someone who is just asking for trouble. They aren't Rosa Parks and the military is not like the rest of the real world. The military won't let you go to court to try and change things, the military will just kick you out. If that same person really wants to make a difference, they need to work from the outside in, changing legislation.

It puts me in mind of conscientious objectors. That's a group that makes me roll my eyes in disgust. The sole purpose of the military is to be called to duty when there's war. For a person to join the military for college money then when they get called up they are suddenly a conscientious objector? Come on! Fine. You don't have to go. But you do have to pay back all that money.

I think when I rule the world, things will be very different, Ruth!


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ruth. This is a great post. And, by the way, I had about as much choice to be straight as I did in getting the color of eyes I did. It's just how I was made. So that pretty much sums up how I feel about it being a "choice" to be gay. I only hope that in my lifetime gay people all over the United States have the same right to get married as I do. After all, they pay taxes. Why aren't they entitled to the same privileges? It's a clear case of discrimination to me.

I miss you.

Sandy in Tucson

k said...

"It's such a non-issue though! It's not like gays are going to be making out at work any more then hetero's do. It's all so stupid."
You never worked in photo labs, did you?
Anyway. I think I agree with all that you said. Maybe it's the pro-military stance that makes me edgy. But I think most of that comes from the days of The Draft, and watching my brothers and friends. And being young and idealistic (which means seeing things in a more black-and-white way). But yeah. Gay. Choice. Suurrre.

Fiber Floozie said...

I love the way you said that. It is true. It should be a non-issue. I do hope it will be over turned soon. I thought it (don't ask don't tell) was such a joke in the first place. My husband was in the army (8years) and he said just what you did. You knew who was what and it didn't make a hill of beans as long as the work got done. Being a slacker that was a whole nother thing.

Lisa/knitnzu said...

Good Gawd, you mean there are gay people in the military??

Lisa/knitnzu said...

Mostly I agree. For the military, it's being a good soldier that counts, who cares if you're gay. This part I'm not so sure about, that people go in w/ eyes open and the whole keep it in the closet thing. What about when a gay person goes in, intending to not tell and not ask, and is a great soldier, respected and loved by soldiermates (or whatever you all are called), but then somebody ELSE outs her or him?

And what about the hetero soldiers who are sexual abusers/predators (towards other soldiers or civilians)? There aren't any of THOSE in the military, right?


Mom's a born again Christian, with a gay son. And it's hard for her when the church gets all anti gay.

Turtle said...

i thought i had just heard that they changed up the don't ask dont tell policy making it much harder for uncle sam to boot someone solely on the basis of sexual preference. Hmmm, will have to look into that. We lived the military life for 15 years (navy) and knew many a sailor (male and female) who were in the closet. What was truly funny was that they all came out to hubby, knowing he was not the judgemental type or who would care and report it even though he was a senior. I could care less what someone's preference is as long as they are a good person who does their job. My only thought , and i have no clue how it will ever happen (or be fixed) as there are always going to be those who are homophobic and ignorant in regards to their behavior towards it, is in the navy how will they handle the submarine forces. The boats are small, close quarters and for their safety and those others comfort.... Hubby got screwed out of his shore billets due to woman or those unable to go to sea holding down the shore duties. In 15 years he had less than 2 years of shore duty, a big reason why he got out. EVeryone should be able to be in the military if they want, i just don't know how they will ever be able to integrate everyone in a fair and just way.