December 19, 2010

The End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

I don’t often write about political issues here, but I couldn’t ignore the recent passage in the US Senate to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’

I remember when I was finishing up high school that my father encouraged me to look into a military academy or join ROTC. Although this was a different era than now (it was the late 70’s), I knew then that anything connected with the military wasn’t for me. I didn’t call myself gay then (I wasn’t quite ready for that yet) but I knew that I was attracted to other guys and the staunchly anti-gay military would not be good for me.

Fast forward to today… I believe that it’s critical that young gay people see the the world is full of opportunities for them too and that they don’t have to pretend to be someone they’re not to enjoy those opportunities. Too often gay people feel left out. Sometimes this feeling of being left out is unintentional. Other times, like DADT, it’s quite intentional. Every time we’re left out or forced to be something we’re not a door gets slammed in our face.

As I read comments from Republican senators who voted against this bill, I can’t help but feel enraged. Their comments of “it’s not broke so don’t fix it” or “unit cohesion will fall apart” are hollow. The problem is that it IS broke! Good people are forced to be something they’re not to be a part of something else that’s important to them. It’s really tiring to have to pay attention to pronouns – every gay person has been there and each time we change the gender it’s another reminder of those doors slamming.

The argument that cohesion will fall apart also doesn’t ring true. Cohesion is built on trust and DADT forced people to be someone else. In other words to do the very thing that diminishes trust. Yes, trust is earned; and the first place to begin trust is with ourselves by being our genuine self.

There’s still more to do to be a completely equal person as a gay man or lesbian in this country, but this is a great step in that direction.

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