DADT: A Repeal of Convenience
Am I the only queer person in the country that is sad about the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? I know the long-delayed bill just signed into law has destroyed my plan to avoid any future military conscription.
Let me explain. Many of my male friends in college photodocumented their participation in pacifist activities. They explained that this was their insurance policy against any eventual military draft: solid proof to support a history of conscientious objection. As a queer person, I had another plan, though: If anyone tried to compel me to serve in the military, before anyone could even "ask," I planned to "tell" by yelling, "I'm gay, and not in the happy way!" loudly and repeatedly, until no branch of the military would want me. Just for extra measure I would threaten to convert any and all women that I ran across.
Now, in the wake of another victory for queer rights in this country, it seems silly to not have taken pictures of myself at anti-war protests anyway.
But I have mixed feelings about the repeal of DADT for other reasons, too. With queer folks now allowed to serve openly, it seems that yet another oppressed minority group has been pulled into being exploited by the American military-industrial complex.
The American military's track record of inclusion is poor by even the lowest of standards. Black Americans were first allowed to serve in the military during the Revolutionary War, when Lord Dunmore, the governor of Virginia, promised freedom to any runaway slave that fought for the British army. George Washington, needing more soldiers, followed suit. I'll let you guess how many of them actually received their promised freedom. Due to fears of giving Black folks weapons and racist doubts that they were mentally capable of being good soldiers, they were not even allowed to officially serve and enlist until 1862 during the Civil War, despite having fought courageously since the revolutionary war. During WWI, US military leaders decided they would rather use black units for suicide missions where they would likely die, instead of sending their white counterparts. For their valiant efforts, no awards or citations would be given to those soldiers of color until 1996, nearly 80 years later.