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Lesbian in the Military

My Thoughts on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."


Mary Ann Humphrey-Keever

Mary Ann Humphrey-Keever

© Kathy Belge
As a female, vastly affected by the still in place, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), I was forced to resign my commission in 1987, because a fellow faculty member at Portland Community College had an ax to grind. As a US Marine Corps officer, he was well-aware of the UCMJ and knew just what to do!

Back then, witch hunts were still going on in all of the militaries and I was but one victim of that process. After two years of going into drills every month, and doing my job as the Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer, I had to sadly give up 9 years of my Reserve career. The man who turned me in received his 20-year letter from the US Marine Corps Reserve and to this day enjoys that extra retirement income that I was denied, simply because I was gay!

The sad thing is that while the military tries to ignore the fact that gays are and always have been in the military, the higher commanders, still try to make excuses as to why the DADT policy should stay in place. Some of those very admirals and generals pushing for this are also gay!

Historically, President Truman, knowing he needed more troops and less segregation, integrated the military in the 1940's. The hue and cry from the white troops about "not ever going to shower with some [n-word]" went on and on. While the military is a microcausium of society in general, his plan was forced to work through this hate and discrimination.

A Black solider could have privileges in the military at that time, and yet be spat upon when actually wearing his uniform back in his own hometown. The military survived and adjusted and further set examples of what working together as equals can bring. Viet Nam saw thousands of Black soldiers die for their country. I won't say that there still isn't total harmony in the military between Blacks and Whites, but as evidenced by the likes of General Colin Powell, something worked correctly.

Still Not Equal

Our United States community is still is not completely equal to all its citizens. Human nature is what it is. Short and sweet. However, it is vastly different than it was in the 1940's. It will continue to change in the 2000's.

Many militaries throughout the world accept gay individuals into their ranks. They live closely together and are still able to function well. I believe it is unfair of the nay sayers to tell us that our military is somehow different and therefore one can't compare such situations. It is just not so, success is success. We as a country, need to step up to the changes happening in the gay community that basically ignited in New York City, in 1969. Gay individuals will not be forced back into any closet again!

The Shower Issue

The old shower issue, usually brought up by straight males, continues to raise its ugly head every time someone mentions having gays in the military, serving openly! Interestingly, it is seldom an issue brought forth by females serving in the military. It would seem that females are so used to be ogled by their male counterparts, that perhaps they say it is just about time the shoe were on the other foot!

Somehow, straight men fixate on the fact that certainly if there were an openly gay man in the shower with them, that they must find them sexually attractive and it would just be unbearable! Surprisingly, as a gay woman, I certainly don't find every female I look at as someone desired sexually, and for these worried straight male soldiers, it is the same thing for the gay man. Not every male is looked at as a sexual conquest. Get over it!!

The arguments are old and tired. The old corps is changing to one that is more open, understanding, and accepting. Again, overall, it is bringing in members that have lived around gays and lesbians, and can see these individuals should be offered the same opportunity to serve their country, if they so choose.

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