Another gay soldier thrown out of the military
And another gay soldier bites the dust. Barack Obama could have issued an executive order halting Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in the discharge of over 12,000 service members for refusing to be in the closet (that is, it’s okay to be gay, just not out) . It was also something Obama promised to end. He hasn’t. Obama, like Clinton, is so good at compromising and being satisfied with results that please no one, that he has done what he always does: promised great things and delivered nothing.
The most recent victim of the policy is Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who served in the “Triangle of Death” in Iraq. Of course, Choi isn’t just a soldier, he’s an Arabic speaker and one of dozens who have been kicked out under the policy. Choi got tired of living in the closet. He founded a West Point group of gays and lesbians called “Knights Out,” wrote a letter to the Army Times, and is so out that he marshaled San Francisco pride this past weekend.
So now Choi’s been tossed out of the service under a policy that has so far cost taxpayers about $400 million dollars. Are we more secure for not having gays in the military? I doubt it. Of course, I doubt we are more secure for having a military and military industrial complex that now drains over half our tax dollars away from real security, like good schools, a clean environment and health care. But, if we’re going to spend over half our tax dollars on the military, then all Americans ought to be able to be fully represented in it.
The real crux of the problem is, no doubt, the legacy of the invention of the homosexual. According to most historians of sexuality, the homosexual (and his twin, the hetero) was invented sometime around the late 1800s. The homo was born a gender invert, a manly woman or girlie man; the hetero was born a manly man or a girlie girl. According to the science of the Victorian era, the most advanced humans were those with the most gender differentiation (this was Darwin’s heyday after all). Since humans who had sex with persons of the same sex could not possibly be advanced, they had to be degenerate (that is, they had to lack extreme sexual dimorphism). In this way, gay men were invented as sissies and lesbian women as butches. Equally important is the idea that the degeneracy of the homosexual could corrupt others. In other words, the homosexual was also invented as a sexual predator.
Fast forward a century. Stonewall has happened. Chelsea boys have happened- those ultra manly gay men with their rippling muscles. Lipstick lesbians have happened with their hot bods and insistence on liking women.
But still, the ghost of Victorian degeneracy haunts us. There is an idea that gay men are not manly enough to serve and that even if allowed to serve, they would put other soldiers at (sexual) risk. This is a rather odd claim from a military in which female soldiers are regularly raped by their male counterparts. In fact, according to Helen Benedict’s The Lonely Soldier, rape of female soldiers by their comrades is so common that it is rarely reported. But that’s different. Those are women. And as for women, they are put in combat but still not full combat soldiers.
Which leaves us with a military that is so macho that you have to be a straight man to qualify. Or a closeted gay man. But women, even the butchest among them, should probably not be soldiers unless they wish to be subjected to sexual violence and combat without really being able to be a combat soldier.
Obama only has one option as President: to halt the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with an executive order today. We as a society have many options. One would be to ask why all our tax dollars are going to such an institution? Another might be to demand that the military be reformed, not as a hyperagressive and hypermacho arm of Imperialism, but as a small, protective force free of discrimination. Perhaps Choi, who is clearly briliant and a leader, can now put his military training to use creating a more peaceful America?