Someone I know posted this article on their Facebook page yesterday. It’s about an openly gay Israeli soldier who proudly served in his military. The basic point of the article was to pose the question “if a country like Israel allows homosexuals to serve in the military without incident, isn’t it time to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’?”
I say no.
A little background for those of you who don’t know me personally. I happen to be gay. My sexuality is not a secret among the people I’m close to-it’s just not generally something I announce. I would assume a reasonably large chunk of my business associates and some of my coworkers are unaware-it’s not their business. I’m not ashamed of anything. It’s just not something that needs to be discussed in a professional context.
Anyhow, I write that to make it obvious that I have no issues with alternative sexual orientations-this isn’t coming from the perspective of a homophobe.
My main issue with the possibility of “don’t ask…” being repealed is that it will put some of our gay and lesbian military personnel in jeopardy. We don’t live in a Utopian society. There are still a lot of people out there in this country who are openly hostile towards gay men and lesbians. There are just as many people who appear to be tolerant on the outside, but internalize their hostility so as to appear “politically correct”. If gays are allowed to serve openly in the military, who’s to say that they won’t be victims of verbal and physical harassment? Your response would probably be “well, there are laws in place (or there would be) designed to discipline those who harass other soldiers”. And I totally understand that. But how effective are those laws gonna be?
Again, this is not a Utopian society.
Here’s a hypothetical. Soldier A is a gay man. Soldier B is a straight guy and was raised to believe homophobia is evil, or maybe he feels threatened by homosexuals because of his own sexual confusion. Soldier A, Soldier B and their boys go on leave for a few days and go away for the weekend with a few of their boys. Everybody gets liquored up, Soldier A and Soldier B retire back to their room, and they somehow end up having sex (that is NOT outside the realm of possibility, folks). There’s a good chance that Soldier B will be completely freaked the fuck out-is it possible that he might assault or even kill Soldier A so that the story doesn’t get out? I think so. Most likely, that situation has already occurred at least once-even with the current rules in place.
If “don’t ask, don’t tell” was to be repealed, do you think Soldier A or Soldier A’s family would have an easier time getting justice? Depends on how much faith you have in the military and our government to deliver you the true story. I’m not a conspiracy theorist myself, but I certainly think that the military and the government spin stories for their benefit. Remember Pat Tillman? So how farfetched is it to think that out men and women in the military might get harassed or verbally or physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation, report it to their superiors, and then the whole thing gets swept under the rug so it doesn’t leak to the press?
I’m not an advocate for living a closeted existence (unless, of course, you choose to. That’s your prerogative). However, I think there are situations where being out and open about one’s sexuality can be a severe hindrance, and this might be one of them. Equality for all is a great thing, but in this case, I think the thing that should be the same across the board is silence.