Friday, December 17, 2010

A Gift

A Holiday Gift for Those Against the Repeal of
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
For those who have ever parented a child, the absolute worst thing you can tell that child is, “No.”  Don’t do that, don’t touch that, and don’t go there. I don’t like him; I don’t want you to hang out with him. No-you can’t wear that. Whatever it was that you didn’t want that child to do is the exact thing he or she wants to do more than anything, and will do behind your back if they can find a way.
If, however, a parent can make a reasoned argument about something without making a negative ruling on it, the child may try it, but is more likely to lose interest. Try telling a kid that you really love his Mohawk haircut. I’ve done it with a nephew, and the next time I saw him, it was gone.
I have always wondered why gay people want to be in the military. Why would anyone want to risk his life for a country in which beating, killing in some cases, discrimination in housing and jobs, the source of tasteless jokes and derision, and institutionalized dishonesty is forced upon them. I have two theories about this. The first one comes from the stereotype of the very ripped, masculine gay man and the uber-athletic gay woman. Where better to show ones toughness and discipline than in the military? Think back to the disco era (as hard as that may be for some of us who really lived it) and the gorgeous men in uniform of The Village People. And American soldiers are very striking in uniform-I think even most peaceniks can agree on that. They look good-and the stereotype is that gay men like to look good. The stereotype is that gay women like to look strong-healthy, athletic and a touch rebellious. What better way to be all those things than going into a man’s world, and in some cases, besting the men. Think of all the female officers who have famously been asked to leave the service-they won in a man’s world.
Another theory is that gays may join the military because of a deep need to prove that they are just as “American” and patriotic as straights. They are willing to fight and die for this country because they love the country no matter what.
I don’t know if either reason is correct. Maybe both are correct for some. I am not gay, and though I have many gay friends, I have never known one who has served. Not to mention, neither my theories nor their reasons matter all that much. Why? Because once they are eligible to serve openly, the ones who are there will fulfill whatever their career goals, and the rest will not want it any more once it is not forbidden. Didn’t blacks stop joining the military once they were allowed to serve openly with whites?
And while we are at it, the same will likely be true of marriage. Once the right to marry whomever one wishes is afforded to same sex couples, they will realize just how outdated and oppressive marriage is, and they’ll not want that anymore either.
So, for those who are certain that the United States of America will fall once every American has equal protection under the law, as is outlined in our constitution, fear not. I bring you tidings of great joy: neither marriage nor military service is all it’s cracked up to be. And once the gays can do both without having to live a lie-they won’t want to do it anymore.
And I am so glad to have this realization-my husband works with a lot of police men, and I’m not sure that he doesn’t get a gleam in his eye when he is around those guys in uniform. In fact, there was an officer in uniform at our company Christmas party last week, and he and my spouse started talking only to each other, excluding everyone else in the circle, until I spoke up and asked if they planned to exclude the rest of us all evening. If gay marriage were legal, my husband might actually leave me. Bummer. 

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