Tag Archives: Bisexual

The Courage to DIE? The Right to TELL!

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It appears that the HOT topic in recent debate is on reversing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy written in the law for our U.S. military that keeps the GLB community “hush, hush” over their sexual orientation in order to serve their country.

For the “T” crowd (Transgender), it’s more about keeping your gender identity hidden, which embarks on a whole new playing field…and an even HOTTER debate.

It will take a majority of both houses of Congress to lift the ban that was written into law during the Clinton Administration.

Prior to Clinton’s botched effort in 1993 to force the military to accept gay personnel in its ranks, the ban on gays serving had simply been a presidential directive that could be unilaterally reversed by the White House.

In 1993, Gen. Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time, opposed allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military; however, he did support a compromise, which was the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill passed by Congress.

For many years since, those who “came out” and admitted they were gay in the military (some pressured or “forced”) would be discharged and sent home. More than 13,000 discharges of gays and lesbians, including those of much-needed Arabic translators, have been recorded. This is not due to them not serving “honorably” or “effectively”, it is simply due to their sexual orientation being made known.

I witnessed this personally with the USAF back around 10 years ago. I was stationed at Lackland AF base in San Antonio, TX for basic training. I was appointed the leader of my flight and doing incredibly well … until I ran into two issues.

(1) During a routine locker inspection, my notebook was revealed and my training instructor read aloud things I had written (poetry and letters home) that made it blatantly clear that I was “gay”. On impulse, I snatched the notebook from his hands, which only infuriated him more. After that, he told me he didn’t want to see that again; yet, he didn’t “ask”. Later on, I went into his office and came clean. I asked myself, “Am I truly willing to risk my life for a country that expects me to hide who I am?” To my surprise, he actually tried to talk me out of it and told me to think it over before I would be discharged. He addressed that I was doing very well and would graduate basic training as an honor graduate. I tossed the idea back and forth for several moments in my heated mind; however, I finally agreed to think over … hiding my identity in order to serve my country.

(2) Less than a week later, I was discharged due to a medical conflict…mild asthma I never knew I had before. Call it fate, or call it “everything happens for a reason”.

I was transferred to another barrack where those discharged waited to go home. I was put on one end of the hallway with approximately 50-60 others. Those labeled with psychological issues were separated from us and had their own place across the hall. Most of those in the “psych dorm” had tried to or threatened to commit suicide.

I “patiently” waited for three weeks to go home and during that time befriended many others who were waiting. Many of whom were leaving due to being gay.

People might suspect they were going home because of “coming on” to someone, “flaunting” their sexuality or because the military was “too much” for them. None of those I met left for those reasons. Most had similar situations that I had, or worse. Some had situations were rumors flew and their “friends” turned against them, doing everything (including lying) to get them discharged.

I had a good friend who served in the U.S. Army Reserves. On the weekends she had training, I would see her remove her HRC “Equality” sticker from her car before she drove to the base. She had to be extra careful not to reveal any aspect of that part of her. When some brave soldiers and sailors would walk in the Gay Pride Parade, she would watch from the sidelines … too afraid to be seen and get in trouble. She also would never display any public affection (including holding hands) with her partner of 8 years. Hiding her identity in one part of her life, inhibited her in other areas of her life.

I have been aware of news over the years where a gay soldier or sailor had been murdered. I decided to do a little bit of research and uncovered many cases of soldiers and sailors brutally attacked and/or murdered for being gay. Who were they murdered by? Mostly, those serving with them…their “brothers” and/or “sisters”.

It is a fact that HATE CRIMES happen everywhere. Even in situations where you are supposed to be fighting together against the enemy; instead, brother turns against brother, sister turns against sister . . .  and makes one of his own the enemy.

“No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” Those were the words of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking last week before a Senate panel.

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A letter to the editor of Daily Press read:

I feel President Barack Obama has opened up a can of worms (what’s new?) with his proposed policy on gays serving openly in the military. I served in the military for more than 20 years and of course knew of numerous gays who served with dignity but did not flaunt their sexual orientation.

What happens when gay military members are serving in a state where same-sex marriage is permitted? Will the military recognize that marriage and issue dependent ID cards, housing allowance, medical coverage, etc.? Will there be complaints of sexual discrimination when military discipline is justified? What’s next? Transgender individuals serving in the military? Maybe the military will provide the medical care for the operation?

I was proud to serve my country, but I’m glad I am not still in.

Fred Whitesell
Hampton

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Like I said earlier, allowing transgender individuals to be open in the military is an entirely new playing field. A more challenging one at that.

If President Obama can get this military ban reversed, it will be next step towards marriage equality. I have always felt that until our gay soldiers can serve openly in the military, we will not see 100% marriage equality.

I’m curious your viewpoints on the positive and negative effects of reversing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Time for you to SPOUT OUT!


Written by TQ Nation President: Tristan Skye


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“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” for Marriage Equality

May 9, 2009 marked a joyous day when the governor of Maine officially signed same-sex marriage into law.

“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage,” Maine Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, said in a statement released as he signed the bill.

“This law is simply about making sure that loving, committed couples, and their families, receive equal rights and responsibilities. This is a step that will strengthen Maine families,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a written statement.

6 months later, voters appear to have a change of heart as the state of Maine today joins the 30 other states that reject same-sex marriage.

Again, this is a moment where the GLBTQ community are given rights just to have them ripped away. In my personal opinion, marriage equality will continue to be a back-n-forth game until this important issue progresses beyond the States and is firmly planted on  Federal ground.

I have never before heard of this type of yo-yo law making until this particular issue was uprooted and put on the political platform. I do not hear of state’s granting abortions, then taking that right away. That is because the issue of abortion made its way into the federal courts, surpassing the mere state legislation. We take “two steps forward, one step back” when we deal with decision makers that rank under the “big dogs” that reside in our nation’s capital.

As I “spouted out” in my previous post, how can we expect to have equal marriage when our military still remains in the closet? They can defend our country and die, yet cannot be gay, lesbian or transgender. President Obama only in recent weeks signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law. These are the “baby steps” we need in order to climb steadfastly up the equality ladder. Abolishing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is our next baby step.

Since the word “marriage” seems to enrage people of a closed mind, have we thought of pushing for “civil unions” / “domestic partnership” first? Baby steps.

Sure, I agree we are discriminated against, but we cannot “change” the minds and opinions of these people no matter how many letters we write or protests we march as activists in. Those are great to show we have a voice and are not going away, but in order for us to truly progress, I am a firm believer in “baby steps”. To us, we are asking for nothing more than equal rights. To them, we are asking for something HUGE. So, why not start asking for smaller things to help pave the way to larger things? Just my thoughts.

Next in the political arena today we have elected an openly  homophobic politician to share power in Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli’s win as attorney general is another step back for the GLBTQ community.

Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli was quoted recently in the Virginian-Pilot to state, “homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.”

The fight turns now to New Jersey where Democrat and marriage equality supporter Jon Corzine was unseated by Republican and marriage equality opposer Christopher Christie. Two months remain for legislature to pass a marriage bill with Corzine finishing his final days of his term. Even still, the Garden State must wait a minimum of four years to gain full marriage rights.

In my opinion, Washington is the state that is taking the correct “baby steps” as voters accept and pass a Domestic Partnership (DP) law (tagged “everything but marriage”), while the voters reject the law for “marriage” time and time again.

Most people are not startled by the term “domestic partner” and might be open to grant recognition for our relationships; however, the term “married” still stirs havoc in the minds that can only acknowledge “one man, one woman” and cannot see past that. Of course, I should make the point that it is “one BIO man, one BIO woman” that they can handle. God forbid we try to open their minds further to the transgender community just yet.

“Never let your head hang down. NEVER GIVE UP AND SIT DOWN AND GRIEVE. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige

In the face of adversity is when you must fight the hardest. When you have a hard time standing back up, that is the time to grab your neighbor by the hand and trudge forward together. In the chaos and the screaming, stay calm in your heart, but raise your voice and be heard. When they come against you, do not lower yourself and come back against them. Believe in the great and wonderful person you are and keep standing, keep moving forward and never give up fighting for a brighter tomorrow.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find it important to note that the consensus reveals that many anti-marriage equality voters are African American. This is why I chose a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. — a man who died to bring equality to a minority. I only pray that the ones who choose to now HATE a minority (as they once were) will open their eyes and one day see the light of never restraining freedom from another human being. This time it’s not about the color of skin, but about whom they choose to love. We must remember it’s not about skin color, sexual orientation…but, by the “content of one’s character” we define a man.

Years ago, one great man had a dream. Today, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day those who once had thoughts of killing a gay man will invite him over for dinner. I have a dream that one day the preacher that once condemned the lesbian to hell will marry her and her wife. I have a dream that one day the person who beat transgenders will drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness. I have a dream that the bully who drives gay teens to suicide will instead come to their rescue and be their support. Yes, I too have a dream. This is only a small piece of it. A piece of a large puzzle that I hope one day will all be put together.

Baby steps, my family…baby steps.

Written by Tristan


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