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Honored Silence: Gay soldiers on Veterans Day

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2010-11-11 -

With Veterans Day upon us, I wonder if any war-supporters will keep in their minds the service and patriotism of closeted soldiers currently serving in the U.S. military. Let me help.

From Pride in Utah's Eric Ethington comes this message from a gay friend currently serving:

I am a Warrior and a member of a team who can never know who I am.
I have answered my Nation’s call even though they will not recognize me.
I will never quit. I will never accept defeat. I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I represent the strength and tradition of those who have served in silence before me.
I am a guardian of freedom… even though I never feel its full capacity.

As touching as that is, my emotions get muddled by the gnawing radio voice of KRCL's Troy Williams. Williams' steadfast view is that many social issues are far more important that the issues du juor of the queer community--I often agree although it's harder to argue that here, in Utah, where homophobia is so acute. Wiliams gives the examples that various queer groups have fought for decades, company-by-company, for domestic partner "benefits" (sometimes really discriminatory benefits like at Intermountain Health) but were not organized to be a loud, solid voice arguing for universal health care during last year's political battle.

And here's Williams on why DADT is not an immediate priority:

I contend that ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a greater priority to the world than repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We should be under no illusion anymore as to our true motives for war. The U.S. invaded the Middle East, devastated Iraq’s infrastructure, eliminated their public sector, and sold off reconstruction as well as their natural resources to multinational corporations. Our purpose was to remake their economy into a free-market neo-liberal wonderland. Today, 64 percent of all Iraqi oil reserves have been sold off to multinational oil interests. Their tax and finance laws have been restructured to benefit U.S. interests. We’ve made Iraq our bitch. This is not a cause any soldier should die for. I say bring the troops home now and then let’s talk about ending our military’s discriminatory policies.

Italics mine. That sounds reasonable to me, but I hear some people squawking that "we" should do both. Well, that's always the easy answer, isn't it? Like the Republicans, who "want lower taxes, higher defense spending, more Social Security and, yes, balanced budgets," people who want the queer movement to focus on an anti-war agenda and a repeal of DADT agenda aren't being reasonable. Virtually all the resources in the queer movements are committed--there's not a stack of gold coins waiting to be deployed. Any refocus of efforts on a peace platform would necessarily take away time and resources from a DADT, ENDA, same-sex marriage, the Gay Agenda trifecta that's emerged in recent years.

Frankly, my attitude on same-sex marriage vacillates between never wanting my own same-sex marriage anyway and wanting five (that's a lil' joke). I've never, ever, seriously wanted to enter the military, although I'm from a military family and understand and appreciate the financial realities that entice people to serve. And while I have felt threatened by homophobia in past work places and would appreciate an ENDA-style protection for the short term, I don't think many queer people want to work long-term for homophobes that would fire us if they could, so even ENDA lacks some luster for me (although getting fired for being queer just before retirement obviously totally sucks).

I'm definitely not saying that gay rights issues don't matter. What I am saying is that much larger issues that impact everyone--poverty, peace, climate change--are sometimes much more significant in the lives of queer people than are issues that impact queer communities exclusively. I'm also not trying to convince you to lose your vigor for queers rights activism: this is Utah, after all.

What I would like to see is a long-term vision from leaders in the queer movement that there is a corner we will soon turn, where those of us who puke at the idea of having two kids and a husband/wife overseas in the wars will feel represented by the groups that claim to be working for them.

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // February 11,2011 at 14:35

Thank you so much for having the guts to say what alot of other people think about, Written very well.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // November 11,2010 at 11:43

Good post, Jesse. You've presented much to consider.

 

Posted // November 10,2011 at 11:13 - Last time i checked retired queers or queers currently serving can celebrate veterens day. Who is stopping you? Please no fudge packing to where the children might see it, they would be ruined for life.

 

Posted // November 11,2010 at 13:48 - Thanks Hayduke!

 

 
 
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