Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"finally & formally takes effect"

The whorehouse immediately adjacent to our sandbagged gate at the Saigon compound --- once a small three-story hotel --- had until Tet been inside, easing the commute for the captain in charge. Mama-san was his girlfriend, filling in until DEROS for a stateside wife. Ah war stories.

Queers were by comparison to some of our straight friends --- enthusiastic patrons of the bars, brothels, massage parlors and “barber shops,” then sick call for a shot of this or that to ward off minor STDs --- a sedate lot.

Working long hours and living on the economy so far as food was concerned, gay and straight alike, we spent a lot of time, some more than others, scrounging for meals --- marauding foodies. Or sitting around in the rooms of senior NCOs, who could legally keep booze in their quarters, drinking, talking and listening to music. Pretty exciting stuff.

Everyone knew everyone else fairly well. But there were no homophobic slurs or harassment, casual or otherwise. Our MP detachment amused itself now and then trying to catch the superspook who lived down the balcony in bed with his Vietnamese boyfriend --- ka-thud, ka-thud past the door at 2 in the morning. But there seemed to be no malice even in that. Military types are far more sensible that civilians sometimes give them credit for.

But since we actually weren’t there, forbidden by regulations to serve, caution was required --- even in laxer times when the need for cannon fodder mitigates the urge to discharge. That less-than-honorable exit could mean your family would find out and you couldn’t go home again. Potential civilian employers probably would find out, too, derailing careers before they started.

That’s all in the past now after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell fizzled out overnight despite the best efforts of morally bankrupt Republican politicians and the Christianist freak fringe to hold on to it. About time.

A lot of determined military and ex-military types kept the momentum going, but heterosexual allies, most notably Democrats and a few Republicans (none from Iowa) in Congress along with the Obama administration, are primarily responsible.

A brain-dead award goes to those who have suggested that currently serving military personnel lack the integrity and honor to implement DADT’s repeal with minimal fuss and remain focused on mission.

And the sound of the tiniest and most pathetic violin accompanies the whining of a few military chaplains who have expressed fear that their Christian rights might be interfered with if, God forbid, they were required to extend the love of Christ to include gay troops, too.

Along with thousands of others, I've been following for weeks via YouTube the coming-out process of 21-year-old gay Airman Randy Phillips recently returned to home base Germany after deployment to the Mideast. Until this morning he'd been faceless, but with the repeal of DADT no longer is. He also worked up the courage, finally, to call home to Alabama and tell his dad he's gay. It's an amazing series of video clips embodying the most poignant aspect of these holy wars --- the horrifying fear, in some instances realized, that if  parents know they'll no longer love.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Wow! That's some video.