Ed Note: I originally saw this piece over at Op-Ed. I immediately called my friend, Bill Homans, and asked if I could publish it here at VetSpeak.org, and distribute it to our lists. As I suspected, he was good with it. Thanks, Bill. Bill's take on this issue sorta turns things upside down in my mind, and demonstrates a political perspective reminiscent of our early days in VVAW as we considered actions and their impact. Finally, a principled perspective on an element of a major hot button issue from someone who's been there, done that. I always appreciate Bill's speaking truth to power in the language of pragmatism and practicality. As always from Bill, some serious food for thought for us all to mull over as September 20th and the Repeal of DADT approaches. Bill wrote this on the day of the events in San Diego, and it is so dated here. WH
July 16, 2011
By William P. Homans
Today I have drawn a line. Each man must draw his own-- every thinking person ought to be drawing them constantly-- and when I see that gay servicemen and veterans are going to be marching in formation, military music blaring-- a horse detachment!-- at the San Diego Gay Pride Parade, I had to get out my stick and dig a ditch deeply across my own mental sandy patch.
The justification that will be made for such blatant endorsement of our military mission is that DADT Repeal isn't about war and peace, it's only about discrimination. One ordinarily sage commentator on my political discussion board, a gay man who never served, takes this myopic position.
I strongly, irrevocably disagree with him.
This is NOT a major step in gay equality. It is a SHUCK. I AM one of those discharged for being gay decades before there was anything called DADT. I am almost undoubtedly the only such person you know; mathematically speaking there are not a lot of us, only some 13,000 discharged under DADT, and undoubtedly quite a few less in the entire history of the service.
Now my friend Denny doesn't have any idea, gay or not, what telling that lie when you step forward and raise your hand to take the oath is all about. I do. I HAD to enlist. There wasn't any question about it, my family military history made that a done deal, it wasn't a matter of IF I would enlist, it was only a matter of when.
But I knew I was telling a lie when I took that step forward and raised my hand, because although I LIKE girls, and I like sex with 'em, I also was DYING to be with a guy and know what that was really all about (I do not regret finding out, lol). I was a virgin (technically) with both sexes until I was 20 and in Vietnam!
I am determined to save one, two, more young gays, and other young people who have given no thought to the entire military mission, and who are seduced by the recruiting fairs, the video games, the enlistment incentives (which have nothing to do with patriotism)-- the Fred Karger Republican electoral bait-and-switch specifically targeting gays and students-- from committing the grave and stupid error of joining a FUBAR mission FOR THEIR MATERIAL ADVANCEMENT RATHER THAN FOR THE CLEAR DEFENSE OF THE UNITED STATES.
Or merely for more inchoate reasons of personal or familial economic desperation.
And Denny is mistaken here. If patriotism-- to say nothing of a real urgency to fight off invaders-- was the major impetus for people to join the military they wouldn't need the freaking recruiting fairs with their slick and seductive video games.
No, it is personal material (which includes educational, since that's what you get educated for, so you can make more money, or even get rich) advancement, or today, desperation to help their families because their parents are now long-term unemployed, that brings 90% of enlistees in.
I know one 21-year-old, no father since 7, grunt laborer/jack of any trade you'll hire him for, been the man of the family taking care of his mother and sister since then. I asked him whether he had thought about going into the service (this is a muscle twink, a freakin STUD, tell you what, and almost certainly dead straight).
This normally macho poor-white-trash Mississippi kid said, "I don't guess I will, I ain't got no problem with them other people in other countries. I'll just keep workin'."
"I always have..." he smiled.
It was clear that he HADN'T given joining up any serious consideration. Well done, Daniel (the young man's name). But most of 'em do, and enough of them join to keep this mess going, and the reasons they join have nothing to do with defending the USA.
And that is why even the APPEARANCE of gay support of military objectives, whether, as Denny continues to argue, that necessarily implies the SUBSTANCE of that support, is a negative example that, apparently, gays are not only ready but EAGER to set for the impressionable children, including gay children, coming up behind them.
Somewhere, Denny, one must draw a line in the sand. And I have drawn my line, speaking now as a bisexual male of retirement age, at the gays of today being behaviorally manipulated by the Republicans-- and by God, by OURSELVES, if these freaking parades full of gay soldiers in nice neat formation are going to become a ubiquitous thing-- to acquiesce to a continued enhanced amount of gay enlistment in the military.
I just won't take it lying down.
And that is what is being guaranteed if there is zero progressive gay commentary, and in fact no confrontation, at planning meetings, or on the street if Pride planners can not face dissent in their own meetings. We gays will just be another RIGHT-WING-LEANING, MILITARY LOVING SOCIOLOGICAL COHORT.
Kind of like mainstream Congressional Democrats.
Is that what your idea of equality boils down to, Denny or any other gay who might be listening to me? I want to put such a concept in a pillow case and bash it against a stone wall six or seven times.
It has been so completely clear for this entire century (if it were not clear before) that not only is the military mission faulty, but our various representatives in government can't even stick to one motivation for having started these wars. They change like shifting desert sand.
No, Denny, you're very wrong here. DADT was allowed (if it actually is) in order that gays would be able to say, "hey, we won SOMETHING anyway." You see today that the Republicans are quietly-- even publicly, but quietly-- taking over the gay civil rights movement.
You supposedly "progressive" gays can't see that? Well, that's no improvement but no deterioration over January 2009. Weren't ready to help yourselves (us) then, aren't ready now.
When real, just-want-to-live-together, don't-wanna-bother-nobody gays and lesbians stop letting Aubrey Sarvis and E. Clarke Cooper and their rich, ideologically-Republican-bonded ilk call the tune for them politically, then maybe I WILL live with my man, officially, in a framework of complete civil rights.
Till then, I guess I have to hope that the do-nothing Democrats will actually PASS the legislation that more than half of Republicans will fight tooth and nail against, despite their granting gays a headline or two.
Or that Republicans will go ahead and vote for gay rights as long as we will go ahead and acquiesce to indefinite wars wherever the US cares to declare them, or not even declare them, just go and start bombing, as we did in Yemen (It doesn't matter in this context that a Democrat did it. Bush set the precedent for unilateral action, and the Republicans will be perfectly happy to say, "well, Obama did it."). We didn't tell anybody, we left the American people to read in the papers that we had already started military operations there.
You may turn your head, Denny. You may argue all you like that the issue is merely civil rights, and not the endorsement of the military mission in general.
Just a civil rights issue? My hind foot.
I insist that gays need to be ANTIWAR, not parading down streets across the country endorsing military service, and by dressing all strack and military-shipshape, making sure that gays/students (for that's who the 2012 campaign to co-opt the votes of the gay community is about) have a nice example so that they too will join up and go fight for Uncle Sam-- and then fight for their PTSD compensation, clean the depleted uranium out of their systems (don't hold your breath, ha ha), and try to make some kind of a civilian (or family, where the two do not necessarily coincide within any specific gay relationship) life for themselves.
The Republicans' intention, whether you will turn your head from it or not, Denny, is this:
To engineer a nice compliant gay population (like the rest of the population) who will make no more noise than the rest of Americans when multi-billion dollar lies are told, and outrages and atrocities are committed, IN THEIR NAMES. Who will go ahead and join up, and make sure that whatever happens in their own little civil-rights area, AMERICAN BUSINESS AS USUAL, which means WAR and MAXIMIZATION OF PROFIT ON EVERY SINGLE THING WE EAT, DRINK, USE, OR BREATHE-- will go on pretty much without a peep from them.
Give 'em their dinky little right! The power to make war-- the power to induce these little rights-demanders to make war in return for their poxy little "right" to be honest about whom they make love with-- is far, far more important, and that is going right over their heads. All the better!
Gays, for Crissake (no, for YOUR sakes, and for ours), stay out of the service. Please, y'all, exhibit better sense than American heterosexually-exclusive people!
William P. Homans
A non-heterosexual-exclusive, unterrorized American with his eyes open!