The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is quickly approaching. On September 20th the repeal and certification process officially is complete and the sexuality that a person is born will no longer be grounds for discharge. As we approach this historic day that marks the end of seventeen years of institutionalized discrimination former and active duty service members are telling their stories of how they made it through and what it was like to endure.
GQ magazine has collected some of these stories and presents them here.
Like the story of Eric Alva, the first American injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When Alva signed up, before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," he had to lie on his paperwork. "I knew I was lying," he says. "But I loved what I did, I loved my job, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I said, ‘It’s going to be my secret.’ I knew I was not going to be happy in a way, but I knew this was what I wanted." In 2003 he was deployed to the Middle East, and on March 21 he crossed the border from Kuwait. His unit was part of a huge convoy that stopped outside Basra. Alva got out of his Humvee and went to fetch something from the back of the vehicle. "That’s when I triggered the IED. I was awake, my hearing was sort of gone. My hand was covered in blood and part of my index finger was gone. The chaplain was holding my head and I was telling him I didn’t want to die. I was taken off a helicopter in Kuwait—it was estimated that I was only in Iraq about three hours—and carried into surgery. I woke up later and when I looked down I saw that the right side of my sheet was flat. I cried myself asleep, only to wake up hours later and see that it’s true: My leg is gone."
DADT not only affected the lives of those who risked their lives on the battlefield. It also took a toll on those they loved.
"The relationship lasted for about four years, but I always felt like I was disrespecting him, to have to pretend he didn’t exist when I went to work. When I got deployed, he was there with my family when I left. It kind of sucked—to shake his hand and a little pat on the back and ‘I’ll see you when I see you’ kind of thing. And when you’re getting ready to come back, the spouses were getting classes—here’s how you welcome your Marine back into the family—and my boyfriend didn’t get any of that. I had a really hard time adjusting to being home. We tried to make it work for a year but he was getting more and more paranoid about people finding out about us. It killed me that he felt that way because of me. I don’t think we ever really had a chance, ultimately."
For some DADT became the weapon used by haters.
The harassment grew worse. Of a number of escalating events—Rocha was also force-fed dog food and locked into a shit-filled dog kennel—the most abusive and explicitly homophobic was when he was ordered by his commander to act in a dog-training scenario, repeated over and over so that every dog in the unit could be run through it. "The scenarios were supposed to be relevant to what the dogs or the handlers would experience. Like a domestic dispute, or an armed individual who has been spotted on the base, or someone strapped with explosives. This day he chose that the scenario would be that I would be getting caught giving another service member a blow job and, once the dogs came in, I was supposed to jump up from having been in between this guy’s legs. He would coach as to how exactly he wanted it played out, which was the sickest part of it." Rocha says he had to act this out between half a dozen and a dozen times, about fifteen to twenty minutes each time. As they repeated it, his commander ordered Rocha to make the scenario more extreme. "He wanted me to be very queer and flamboyant. He wanted me to pretend like there was stuff on my face. Loving it so much that each scenario was gayer and more disgusting—the introduction of fake semen, that I would have to wipe my face, or that I would have to make slurping noises. The level of humiliation I experienced that day, that’s when I knew I wasn’t safe in the military."
I highly recommend heading over there and reading more http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military#ixzz1WAXDJMrl
World of Warcraft
For the last six years I have spent much of my free time immersed in the Massive Multiplayer Online game World of Warcraft. It has consumed more of my time than I really care to admit to. For All but maybe 2 or 3 months of that time I was also guild leader of Foederati, one of the greatest groups of people I have ever gotten to know.
Over they last few months however I have found myself spending less and less time playing WoW. The game has just seemed to become monotonous and just doesn’t hold my attention like it used to do. Six years is after all a very long time to be attached to a video game. So I have finally decided that it’s time to move on and as of tonight I am stepping down as guild leader and officially retiring from the game.
Leaving the game itself isn’t all that difficult, but leaving behind the friends that I have made, some of which I’ve actually met in person, is difficult. These are people who have completely accepted me for who I am. They make me happy and are as much a part of me as my own family.
There will be a void of sorts where WoW used to be. I’m not really tied to any other game right now, although I’ve been playing a little bit more of Star Trek Online than I have in the past but my time there no where compares to the hours a week I used to put into WoW. Spring is just around the corner and I plan to plant a garden again this year, hopefully I’ll be a bit smarter about it. I’ve also been exercising more and hopefully when the weather gets a warmer I’ll spend a bit more time outside this year than those in the past. So there are things to keep me busy. And of course, I might actually get a bit more writing done now.
And of course this isn’t really goodbye to the friends I’ve made over the years. There are plans for a get together this summer in Minnesota that I’m planning to attend. All in all I’d say my experiences with WoW have been positive over the years. The friend sI’ve made and some of things I’ve learned about myself will be with me for a long time to come.
Late Sunday night Foederati; the World of Warcraft guild that I’m a part of, took down two more bosses in Blackrock Depths (Omnotron Defense System and Maloriak). The night went surprisingly well and everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits. It looks like our 25 man raiding machine is off to a pretty good start for Cataclysm. If your wondering what I’m talking about, head over to the Foederati website for a look.
This morning however, I woke up to snow and freezing rain. Not sure how many times I have nearly fallen on my butt today going too and from work.
You see that short green fellow standing there on the deck of what’s left of a boat? No; not the one in the purple shirt, the other one; yeah, that one. That’s me, and I’m getting a dressing down by Trade Prince Gallywix because the idea of tossing exploding bananas at monkeys just seemed lame to me and I made the mistake of actually flappin my lips while everyone else just ran off like nuts looking for a squirrel.
As I was standing there listening to Gallywix yell, “If you’re not here to make me money kid, then you’re not here” I quickly began to realize that this little unplanned pleasure cruise to the Lost Isles meant that the life I’d known in Kezan was over and done with like last week’s newspaper.
It may be a little late but tonight I finally was able to participate in a kill of the Lich King in 25 man Icecrown Citadel. For those that don’t know much about World of Warcraft, he is the last boss of the last raid dungeon in the Wrath of the Lich king expansion. In less than 7 days the new expansion, Cataclysm goes live.