D.W.B. - Driving With Blinkers

Christina Engela's picture

We tend to think that things are better today than they were long ago. After all, we have mobile phones, HDTV, Satellite communication and the internet, among many other things. Of course, not too long ago, we still used to have a more relaxed pace of life, lower stress levels and cleaner air and water - and also a certain level of respect for each other as people.

When we read about the DADT policy of discrimination which has many variants in military forces around the world, I think we are reminded that things were not always this way. Fifty years ago, being different was not always viewed as critically and with such a high level of paranoia and fear as some people see it today. From this we can infer that even today, despite DADT being in force, there are still many gay, lesbian and trans people in military service - even while closeted - they have always been there, and probably even more so.

It would seem to me that diversity is strength, and by having diverse people in your armed forces, we would have made your armies that much stronger. But oh well, your loss.

For people to imagine for a moment that there never were gay or trans people walking among them is nothing less than wishful thinking or driving with blinkers on. I know they may wish it was so, or that they even contemplate that all of a sudden, because of the "collapse of Western morality, blah, blah, fish-paste" we started "turning gay" and "weakening the moral fiber" of society. To their limited, shallow understanding - because they didn't know we existed, and were invisible to them - which in their minds means that we "never existed" before.

Of course, this is nothing less than pure unadulterated bullshit.

Why did we become visible? Because while the majority of us were invisible, hiding because of the negative attention one gets for being open and 'different', there was a visible minority that got bullied by the powers that be. We all know the legend of Stonewall back in 1969, and the riots that led to the birth of our civil rights movement. It was persecution and prejudice that forced the issue. Do that to any group of people long enough and with enough cruelty and hate and sooner or later they will reach a point where they will say "enough is enough!"

And that's the long and short of it.

On the topic of DADT though, I found the following post on a Facebook discussion about the modern US military and the poster's own experience as a gay man in the armed forces:

"The old couple that I met when I came out at 16 (forty years ago) told me that "friend of Dorothy" was popular in the Korean War. My friends who went to Vietnam tell me that no one really cared and that there were many gay couples in combat. It is only in the past thirty years since the Moral Majority came to be that soldiers have a problem with gay men serving. Of course, the official position has always been that homosexuals were not welcome. The young soldiers that I meet from Iraq talk about the importance of cohesiveness. But, soldiers I have known from previous wars knew that gay men could be discharged. They also knew that there was nothing wrong with it and they had a great sense of humor about the whole thing. My grandfather who was born in 1895 told me that "sex isn't anything new." "It's what you do that matters, not what you are." While there wasn't a good understanding of homosexuals in the past, there was a civil respect in the past for all people that is lost today. We have the fundamentalist Christians of the past thirty years to thank for that. Personally, I prefer Dorothy and friends. I'm happy to be a friend of Dorothy and proud of it."

Isn't it ironic and tragic that these soldiers, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, go to fight for their country - and then because of who they are they are discriminated against, persecuted and reviled? In earlier years they would have been recognized for their service to their country, regardless of things which should not play any part in that recognition - such as who they love, or what equipment is between their legs.

The sad thing to me is that people still have to fight for the right to be recognized as people, and to have their right to exist honored. It's tragic.

Some people say we live in a sick world. I don't think it's the world that's sick - just some of the people living in it.

Transphobia and homophobia is fear of the unknown. GET TO KNOW US, stop fearing, stop hating. That is my challenge to you.

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