March 19th, 2010 1:48 am |
I’ve been silent about gay issues and one that has been in the front of the news is the appeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Today Lt. Dan Choi, along with fellow soldier James Pietrangelo, and activist Robin McGehee were arrested in front of the White House as Choi and Peitrangelo were handcuffed to the iron gate outside of the White House. This took place during a DADT Rally being held in DC on Thursday.
Lt. Dan Choi came out on national television last year on the Rachel Maddow show as shortly thereafter the US Army started proceedings to discharge Lt. Choi. He has chosen to appeal his case rather than be discharged.
Thousands of GLBT soldiers serve in our Armed Forces, but admitting to being gay or lesbian would mean being discharged from the very thing these brave men and women have wanted to do all their lives – to serve in the US Armed Forces to defend America and what we stand for. They weren’t drafted or forced to become soldiers, they chose to become soldiers because at the core of their being, they wanted to be part of something more, to defend and protect.
And why shouldn’t we be able to serve along with our fellow Americans? They all made it thru the same boot camps as everyone else, they all got the same training, they all got the same opportunities to advance their careers and many have even become high ranking officers. But the one thing they can’t do, like their fellow soldiers, is be open about who they are. They can’t participate in conversations about loved ones at home, can’t discuss friends, can’t talk about even simple memories of growing up. They can’t share the hardships that they had to endure even as a civilian.
No, not everyone has the ability to be open about their orientation. Many fear retribution or fear being alienated by co-workers. Many don’t even have the ability to even reach out to another gay person, the fear can be paralyzing. The amount of energy that is spent to put up that protective shield comes at a cost.
Here’s how I see it and there will probably be fellow GLBT friends and colleagues that will disagree with what I have to say. GLBT soldiers don’t want to appeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell because they want to be openly gay and have parades and start a GLBT club in the officer’s mess. They want to know that if in the course of normal life while in the Armed Forces, they are able to share parts of their home lives much like their fellow soldiers do without fear that if they forget to change a pronoun they will be outed and discharged from doing the one thing they want to do the most. I think these brave soldiers who have to hide behind their own self-camouflage can be even greater individuals and leaders. Let them use the strength they get from their families, from their loved ones, from their partners and spouses. Let them use that same strength that everyone uses as they go to combat in hostile territory. Let them use the power of the love to add to their already commanding presence.
Let them be them.
Let them serve.