Gay rights groups, activists, and the LGBT community in general has been in the public eye for so many reasons over the past handful of years. With marriage equality slowly creeping up, state by state, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell being repealed, everyone has been pretty busy. With the six month anniversary of DADT upon us, I want to take a look at where we’ve come since gays were given the right to openly serve in the military, free of worry about losing their jobs.
A year ago, you probably recall uproars happening what seemed like every other day about the prospect of overturning DADT in the military. People were literally treating the issue as if it would bring us to the end of the world. Would the possibility of having to serve with a gay soldier deter others from joining the military? Would those currently serving retire their camouflage if they happened to find out that someone in their unit was a lesbian or gay man? The idea of our military wasting away seemed to be a pretty prominent one.
But what were people really that scared of? The argument that I heard the most was that straight soldiers were afraid to sleep in the same rooms as gay soldiers. Honestly, I feel senseless and uneducated even typing that. I’m not sure how people got the idea that gay soldiers were peeping toms or night time lurkers, but I think it’s a
pretty ridiculous one. I think the fact that numerous gay soldiers hid their relationships, one even for thirty years, in order to continue to serve their country, is a fairly logical sign that their intentions were not to hit on straight people. Furthermore, the coinciding fact that non gay soldiers threatened to leave the military if DADT passed is a good indication that their loyalty is not nearly as strong as the former.
With that said, what has happened in the past six months of having an LGBT accepting US military? The answer: not much. Many gay soldiers returned to the military with no disasters or catastrophic events. Some who had left the military before DADT was repealed were asked if they would return to service. A microscopic two percent of soldiers decided to change their housing situations after finding out about a gay soldier in their unit. The majority claimed that they were completely unaffected. Others had already known about gay unit members before the repeal of DADT, and hadn’t even been concerned then. The fact of the matter is, it’s not that big of a deal. Gay people can serve the country, too. Who knew?
I find myself feeling somewhat sarcastic while writing this post. The thought of people being scared to serve with a gay soldier, a person whom might be there to save a life during battle, seems completely ridiculous. It’s hard for me to fathom such a worry or concern. However, the issue is real, regardless of how “stone age” it seems to me. Unfortunately, there are still so many people in the US who don’t see eye to eye with me on this matter.
I want everyone to keep tabs on the progress of the repeal of DADT in the months and years to follow. I want you all to sit back and watch. Watch as nothing changes. And when you see that our military functions no differently than before, I want you to think about it. Think about the fact that there are still wars going on; think about how you still see soldiers at the airport, and you probably don’t sit there and wonder if they’re gay or straight. After mulling all of that over, though, I want you to reflect on one last thing. Think about the fact that countless people can now risk their lives in an effort to protect your country, without the fear of being discharged. If we all took a minute to think about these things, we just might come to terms with the fact that granting equality for gays just isn’t really that big of a deal for those opposing it, but it could mean a lifetime of pain or happiness for those fighting for it.