May 2004


Gays in the Military

I’ve been rereading José Zuniga’s book Soldier of the Year (?1994). It’s kind of strange as its taking me back to the early years of the Clinton administration. I still remember the early months of Clinton’s first term quite clearly-in part because I was taking a class on political campaigning at the University of Wyoming co-taught by James G. Watt, the former Secretary of the Interior Department under Ronald Reagan. In retrospect it was clear Mr. Watt was laying the groundwork to run for US Senate from Wyoming, although it never actually happened.

What I do remember was a moment in time that crystallized my stance on gays in the military-remembering of course that I was still in the closet. Our class sat in a circle each Tuesday night and one week we were discussing gays in the military and one of the guys in the class, sitting virtually opposite of me in the circle said, “I’m against gays in the military because when I was in the military some of them hit on me.” This was a strong statement, of course, and one that most of the class supported (remember, this was in Wyoming); except by the few lefties in the class.

Michele, who was sitting next to me had the perfect retort: “Well, were you dressed provocatively?”

Unfortunately that remark was lost in the larger class dynamic, but it crystallized a lot of things for me.

I spent the next week pondering Michele’s comment 24 hours a day: in the shower, while eating, while sleeping, while taking other classes. Even to this day I can still picture it-down to the classroom in UW’s Engineering College building. I think the room number was something like 2120-physically speaking it was the first classroom on the right on the 2nd floor when you entered the College of Engineering not through the front and center door, but through the door furthest to the left when facing it from the front.

One of the things that surprises me about Zuniga’s book is how bitter he was toward Clinton. He seemed to expect more from Clinton. I guess that while I would have preferred that gays and lesbians have been fully integrated into the military, I am willing to accept that there was a political cost for doing so, and that perhaps it wasn’t worth that much political capital at the time. I wanted GLBT rights expanded, but I also wanted Clinton to improve environmental policy, energy policy, tax policy, and defense policy.

Did Clinton strike the right balance with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” I think considering the time and the resistance, he did; especially if it had been implimented as promised. I would expect my president to go much further today. Unfortunately my president isn’t in office, but I’m hoping my president gets elected in 2004.

1 comment to Gays in the Military

  • Chris C


    1. Adam, don’t take this the wrong way but you were never in the closet. 😉 The others I hung out with at UW used to give me grief for being your friend, with the exception of Crystal and a couple others. In spite of that I found that your wit and personality won out over their objections to my being friendly with you. Look who I still talk and pal around with 10 years later. I’m a better person today for knowing you.

    2. I was in the military and the futhest thing from my mind was hitting on my fellow soldiers. Quite frankly, when sitting in a foxhole getting shot at I’d like to believe the last thing I’m thinking about doing is putting tab A into slot B. When in that situation I think I would be more worried about making that enemy SOB die for his country. Now after that I might work on the A/B thing.

    3. I know this is likely 10 years on, but that schmo in your class really needs to take a look in the mirror if he thinks he’s all that. What made him think that he was so special all gay men would be looking at him? Perhaps he wanted all gay men to look at him.

    That’s the stupid little paradox that grates at me… these macho heterosexual guys that are so against gay men thinking they have to get upset if you look at them, then they get upset if you say to them, “what makes you think I’d be interested in you?” They usually reply with something witty like, “what, am I not good enough for you?” We can’t win.

    Lately my attitude is fuck the military. If all those straight bastards want to go off and die for god, glory, and country they can be my guest. If being gay is such a crime I’ll sit back while they get their heads blown off. I can live with that.

    Anyhow, enough of a rant/showing of feelings. 🙂