Mar. 5th, 2010

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This has been percolating around for a while, really, and I told [info]mckennl I would write it down. I cannot break a promise to someone who makes fantastic and amazing cookies.

For those of you not aware, I did 9 years, 7 months, and 1 day in the United States Navy, all of it under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. I served with two out gay men and two out lesbians but I really only want to talk about the two I was friends with.

C was a gay man. He was small, he was slightly effeminate, but he did his job. He did his job really well. Granted he was a postal clerk, but not only was he postal clerking the hell out of our teeny post office, he also had the usual run of collateral duties on the ship. None of his hetero male shipmates who shared berthing with him complained about his behavior in the showers. Like most conscientious sailors, he kept his relationships off the ship. He did his job and he was a good guy and he was out. The chain of command knew but didn't take official notice because no one asked them to. No one cared. C did his goddamned jobs, all of them, and he was part of the crew. No one cared that he was gay.

T was an out lesbian, fairly butch. Same situation as C: EVERYONE KNEW. Every. fucking. one. She never hid who she was, nor did she make a big deal out of it; she was comfortable in her own skin. She had a lambda tattooed on her forearm. She was part of the crew and she was one of us. She had our backs, we had hers. On the ship, you count on everyone for your life, because the time may come when Shit Goes Down and the most important question is "Can I count on you to drag my incapacitated ass out of a burning space?" The answer was yes.

T's story is kind of heartbreaking though. She decided the Navy was not for her. She decided she wanted out into the civilian world. So she approached our Senior Chief one day after quarters and said "Senior, I'm gay."

Senior's response ranks among the classics, he responded with "Yeah, I know. Get to work."

"No," she said, "I'm gay."

Again with the classic comments: "God fucking dammit T, you're making me do fucking paperwork."

So they did the paperwork and T got pulled off the ship that very day "for her safety" and stuck in the transient barracks while they processed her out and there, three weeks later, a shithead male took exception to her sexuality and raped her. Yep. GOOD JOB KEEPING HER SAFE, NAVY.

T was safe with us. Look, yes, I know, the military has problems with sexual assault but the command I was at during this time wasn't like that. If they had just left T on the ship while they processed her out, she would have been safe, she would have been fine, nothing bad would have happened to her beyond the usual boring daily round of maintenance and cleaning that was driving her batshit already.

That fucking Don't Ask Don't Tell shit, it pulled T out of a safe place and it put her in with a bunch of strangers and one of them was a monster and that is so fucking unforgiveable.

Her use of DADT had one other unfortunate side-effect: one of the officers on board decided if we had one lesbian we must have a bunch of people hanging around being homosexual and he was going to find them and he was going to get rid of them oh yes he was. For a couple days several of us walked in terror because if you didn't fit Lieutenant Junior Grade Asshat's idea of the appropriate gender binary, he went around asking people pointed questions about what they knew of your sexual habits. C was one of his targets, so was I. So were a few other people who may have been homosexual or may have been hetero or bi. Who knows, I didn't go around prying into the personal lives of my shipmates any more than I had to.

And then the Old Man came down on him like a ton of very angry bricks. It stopped. But that fucking witch hunt, man. That fucking witch hunt. All enabled by DADT and the atmosphere of fear and hatred it fosters.

This shit has got to go. DADT doesn't improve readiness, it doesn't do anything good for the armed forces. It enabled witch-hunts, it makes people LESS FUCKING SAFE. I don't care what it will do to the culture of the US Marine Corps to have to acknowledge that there are gay men who can hack it. They're going to have to fucking cope.
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