Don’t ask, don’t tell

More can be learned from what works than from what fails.
Rene Dubos-scientist

Well, it is time to step off into the deep end of the controversy pool. In this post, I am going to try to explain why I think dropping the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule is a big mistake. I am sure some will call me a homophobe; but I would like to think I am not.

I do not believe any in my present circle of friends are openly gay. In the past, I have had openly gay friends. There were never any problems between us. We met at work, in schools, or in organizations to which we both belonged. As we quit the jobs, graduated from the schools or moved on from the organizations, the friendships dissolved. I was not fleeing from a gay and they were not fleeing from a heterosexual, we simply did not have enough interests in common to maintain the friendship.

None of these friendships existed while I was in the military. Of course, back then, there was not any don’t ask, don’t tell rule. An acknowledged homosexual was immediately removed from the service – actually, some claimed to be homosexual to avoid or get out of military service (there was a draft back then, along with the Vietnam “Police Action”). There were a couple of reasons America’s hippies did not want to go to war. Number one, it was an unpopular war (what war is not), and number two, one could die fighting in it. Those were not the reasons gays were excluded.

I am sure many things have changed over the years, but during the ‘60s, the barracks showers were community showers. There were just a couple of dozen showerheads sticking out of the walls of a common room; no doors, no privacy. The term, “We are all in this together,” took on a whole different meaning.

If I am homophobic, this is where it comes into play. There is a huge difference between having a gay friend and taking a shower with someone who is openly gay and may be looking at me a potential sexual partner. Understand, one gay in a shower with 24 heterosexuals is not the same as one woman being in a shower with 24 men. All the men’s eyes would be on the solo female (because they would be looking at her as a potential sexual partner) and it would be very uncomfortable for her. In the case of the openly gay man, all the eyes would also be on him, and he too would be very uncomfortable; only it would not be because they thought of him as a potential sexual partner. It would be to make sure he was not looking at any of them in “that way.” If he did look where someone thought he should not, the fight would be on.

I am not saying it was right. I am saying that is the way it was. Men who volunteer for the military tend to be toward the macho side. They tend to be uncomfortable around those cut from a different cloth. The only thing that saved those who were gay in those days was the others not knowing their sexual proclivity.

What would have happened if someone openly gay was allowed to live in the barracks? At the very least, he would have been ostracized — as well as anyone who befriended him. The gay probably would have been severely beaten. As a result, he would have been removed from the military to save his life, and several others would have gone to prison in Fort Leavenworth for beating him. The one whose desire was to be what God made him would have been out of the military, and several stupids would have been kicked out with him. Not exactly a win/win situation, and not exactly the best thing for military image or manpower.

What has changed since the ‘60s? I am not sure. There probably is a lot more privacy in the barracks. That would help, but there is not much privacy on the battlefield. Those men serving are still of the macho persuasion. I am not sure their feelings about being in close proximity to someone who is openly gay has changed much either.

Sometime in the military future (I saw it in the movie Starship Trooper) men, women, and everyone in-between may coexist in coed barracks where they shower, drink, fight and love together. I do not think we have evolved that far yet. Ask your mother, wife, girlfriend and daughter if they are ready to shower in coed showers. Then ask your father, husband, boyfriend and son if they are ready to start showering in coed showers including openly gay men. When they all say, “Yes,” we will be there. As for me, I am not there yet. Does that make me a homophobe?

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Published in: on May 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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