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Entries in Don't Ask Don't Tell (4)


The Day has Finally Come

Do you feel that?  Don't Ask Don't Tell has been missing from the lives of American's for almost 24 hours now.  So, what has changed?  Not much if you ask me.  Our brave men and women are still fighting side by side.  The world did not end, and California didn't fall into the sea.  Just as Harold Camping was wrong when he told us that the world would end earlier this year, so to were many people wrong when they said that removing DADT would cause our military to colapse.

Here is the thing.  The United States is a vast country made up of people, all of whom can think for themselves.  Sure there are those who hate gay people, but most of them probably haven't met any.  The whole point of this website was originally to give people access to gay people so they could see how much alike we all are.  Today soldiers were able to get married, tell their father's that they are gay, tell his/her friends that they aren't interested in the guy/girl they are being set up with.  In short it was just an average day.  An average day that reinforced just how oh so similar we all are to each other.  Without differences this world would be pretty boring, so let's celebrate the small differences and let them unite instead of divide us.




One Year Ago

It has been just over a year since I launched Whatisyourgay.com with the support of a few friends and family.  Admittedly I have not been as good at keeping up with it as I had originally hoped, but I found something very interesting.  In the process of launching this site I spoke with many of my gay friends, many whom said they would be happy to record their story to share on the site.  A year later there are only three.

Over the past month it feels like the LGBT community has been delivered one piece of bad news after the next.  From a young man killing himself because of his sexuality and the thoughtless acts of his peers, the brutal beating of three men by a gang of nine, to the defeat of repeal for DADT.

These are certainly strange times that we live in.  For the past for or five years I felt like things were getting better for the LGBT community, but in the past few months I have felt things slipping backwards.  Of course strides are still being made in the fight for LGBT rights, but the news of late has been disheartening.

The easiest thing for all of us to do would be to hide, to shrink back because we are afraid.  Instead, I believe we need to band together and make our voices heard.  A project was recently launched called the It Gets Better Project which is asking people to record videos about their experiences growing up gay to help guide those that are being bullied, and give them hope for the future.

I can’t say I am not jealous as the project already has hundreds of videos and has been around for less than a month.  However, the goal of the It Gets Better Prjoect and the goal of Whatisyourgay are one and the same.  The goal is to provide hope for future generations, to let them know that this too shall pass and that they will come out on the other side a stronger person.

In honor of National Coming Out Day tomorrow October 11th I am asking anyone out there who has the means to record a video and make their voices heard to do so.  If you want to send it to me to post on this site great, just click here to see how.  If you want to post it to the It Gets Better Project great, just click here to see how, or do both.

At a time of great sadness in the LGBT community, we can either turn our backs to the world and hide, or we can stand together.  I am asking you to plant your flag in the sand and stand with me.  Share your story and your ideas of what being gay means.  Together we can ensure a better future for those that will follow.


A Veteran's Take on DADT

On Friday we received an email from Michael Anthony and want to share it with all of you.  Michael Anthony is the author of MASS CASUALTIES: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq (Adams Media, October 2009). The book is drawn from the personal journals of Anthony during the 1st year he spent serving in Iraq. It is a non-partisan look at some of the escapades that go on behind the scenes in Iraq.

As a point of reference for our readers Anthony is also straight.  His sexuality really does not matter except in this case, especially when you take into account that he is friends with gays in the military.  Shocking we know.  Enjoy...

Don’t ask…ahh…too late.

My name is Michael Anthony,  I am an Iraq war veteran and having spent six years in the Army, at the age of twenty-three, I have spent more than a quarter of my life in service to this country.  I have four older brothers and an older sister, all of whom have been in the military: Air Force, Marines and Army.  My father and both my grandfathers were in the military.

Hailing originally for a small sheltered town just south of Boston Massachusetts, I say this in all earnestness: the only gay people I know have all been in the military.  This is not a joke or some talking point, it’s literal.  Generals, Commanders and Civilians can talk all they want, but the fact of the matter is, the only gay friends I've had have all been in the military, in fact, my only experience of gay people(outside of the military) is when I once watched and episode of the TV show Will and Grace (it was kind of funny).

For the policy known as DADT, there is one thing people often forget.  People forget that the policy doesn’t preclude gay people from entering the military it just precludes them from talking about their homosexuality.  In short, someone can be gay in the military; they just can’t talk about being gay in the military.

If people are already in the military and gay—from my former unit alone I know close to a dozen—what is it that people are afraid will happen with the repeal of DADT?  Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded; gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues?  The uniform policy will still be in effect so we can cross that option out.  Are people afraid that it’s going to hurt troop morale?   The Military suicide rate is at a thirty year high having consistently risen for the past five years, with eighteen veterans killing themselves everyday (according to the VA) so it seems like it can’t get any worse.

With everything said, there is a negative aspect to repealing DADT.  Having been in the military all my adult years, my peer group is filled with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.  Several of these war veterans having done two or three tours, have sworn that they will never go back to Iraq or Afghanistan.  Upon further questioning on how they plan to get out deployment if called, their answer is simple: “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expounding further, they say that if they’re called up, they will simply kiss a member of the same sex—in front of their commander.  So how is repealing DADT going to affect the military?  The answer is simple…my friends who jokingly suggested using DADT as a way to get out of a deployment are now stuck going to Iraq or Afghanistan.

And please don’t even get me started on the escapades that go on overseas.  But hey, what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq…ahh not quite.

On behalf of the Whatisyourgay.com team I would like to thank Michael Anthony for sharing this with us and for his dedicated service to the United States.


Related Links:

Mass Casualties


Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the Road to Repeal?

Today in congressional hearings we heard statements from Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen and then senators were allowed to ask some questions.  After watching all 75 minutes of the hearings I can tell you that this is going to be an issue that is taken down party lines.  Without a doubt the majority of the Republicans asking questions or in some cases making statements about this issue are in favor of keeping the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in place.  There was however what seemed to be on exception in the form of Maine’s Junior Senator Susan Collins (see clip below) who asked perhaps the best questions of anyone at the hearings.

Meanwhile Senator John McCain stood by his hate speech and waved around a document holding the signatures of over 1,000 former service members who oppose lifting the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  McCain simply ended up looking like a petulant child (see clip below), but what can we expect from someone as close-minded as this man who is happy to use members of the LGBT community to defend a country that does not accept them for who they are.

This policy is of particular importance to me as I have had many members of my family serve in the military and have friends serving now.  To the point that some of the senators made in today’s hearings about gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in foreign militaries I have an interesting inside perspective.  In 2006 while I was studying in London I had the great fortune of meeting and entering a relationship with a man who now serves in the British military as an openly gay man.  From the conversations that we have had it is for the most part a non-issue.  While he sometimes feels a bit lonely because he is the only openly gay man in his unit, his sexuality does not impact how his unit functions in the least.

There was one other moment of today’s hearings that struck me as particularly interesting and enlightening into how some of the Republican’s are approaching this issue.  From listening to Jeff Sessions the junior senator of Alabama it seemed that he was not at all concerned with the number of service members who had been discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  Sessions said that the number of soldiers who have been discharged add up to a fraction of a percent.  Now, call me crazy but at a time when the United States is involved in two wars (as Senator Sessions’ colleagues pointed out numerous times) and now that we are involved in the relief effort in Haiti, wouldn’t we want as many service members as possible?  Even if we are discharging a fraction of a percent of our service members I think losing one capable soldier to this policy is one too many.

Senator Susan Collins

Senator John McCain

Senator Claire McCaskill


For an unedited version of the hearings please click here