Sunday, June 14, 2009

In Honor of LGBT Month...

Some of you may already know that President Obama, earlier this month, declared June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, in honor of the Stonewall riots.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

I wonder if we're going to be starting with the military? I also would like to point out that I haven't seen any LGBT celebrations this month. Usually the military celebrates whatever month it is with some kind of party and speakers. I suspect June is going to be rather low-key.

President Obama mentions in his proclamation his support for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

Now, I have long been a supporter of ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I grew up in NYC, and never really thought much about someone's sexuality. But I've been, to be honest, a fairly passive supporter.

A good friend of mine and fellow IVAW member, Jen Hogg, brought to me a point I hadn't considered: that the way I felt being politically repressed is much the way many gay people serving in the military feel about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I thought about it, and realized that she was somewhat right-sometimes I feel absolutely bursting to talk about my political opinion. But after a little more reflection, I realized she just wasn't right enough. I'm pretty sure I talk about the guy I'm romantically involved with, at least in passing, more than I talk about my political opinion.

So, in honor of LGBT month, I'm going to do an experiment for the week. I'm going to carry around a little notepad, and every time I mention one of the following to a military person or civilian contractor working for the military, I'm going to make a tickmark.
1) The fact that I like men and find them attractive.
2) The name of the guy I'm involved with.
3) Any shared commiserations about men

I'm going to keep a separate notepad for all the times I either talk about my politics concerning Iraq, or am tempted to do so but choose not to.

I strongly suspect that at the end of the week, the first notepad will wind up being larger, but we'll see.


Matty said...

Army Sergeant, what are you getting at here? Are you trying to say that your "political repression" in the army is even comparable to what homosexuals encounter through Don't Ask Don't tell? C'mon, Sergeant, you need to get over yourself!

Army Sergeant said...

Matty, you may want to read more closely. The idea was not mine, but came from a friend of mine, who actually suffered from being gay and in the military. I believe, though you'd have to ask her, it was an attempt to get people to understand the situation on at least partially a visceral level.

I agree that the level is nowhere close to being the same, which is what I am trying to illustrate by my "experiment"-and also to show in some ways to my straight friends and fellows in the milblogging world just what it really is like. Many people who support Don't Ask, Don't Tell, say that it's not such a big deal to refrain from talking about sex. I am again, hoping to show that it's much more than that, but small subtleties that we take for granted.

Jen H said...

Matty I don't think you have to worry.

Army Sergeant posted about the speech repression mil bloggers are facing and I, as usual, made a snarky comment about how, finally, straight people are facing Don't Ask, Don"t Tell even if it wasn't quite what I imagined.

My point being that gay people in the military have to supress so much speech straight people just take for granted- most people have no idea how exhausting it it. Most people who support DADT think it is no big deal and can't understand if DADT was evenly applied to straight people in regards to not "telling" nearly every straight person would be kicked out in just one day. AS is only going to take me up on that and take a week to tally all the instances of telling.

It will be a nice little empirical experiment and I look forward to the results. We may have to wait an extra week while the numbers are tallied....

So yes, I was hoping in my little comment people would begin to think about how harmless saying "my girlfriend and I" is, how often they say it and how it can get a gay person kicked out of the military while straight people say it multiple times a day. It was an apt comparison to stories of mil bloggers who have been kicked out for both political and non political postings they have made. The feeling of wanting to talk but always remaining on alert to what you are saying is exhausting and ultimately deflates morale. (of course op sec is important- this is not what is being referred to)