September 2011


Reflecting on September 20th, and more importantly, coming out.

Yesterday I admitted a bit of ambivalence when it comes to the subject of gays in the military, and it’s mainly driven by the fact that, in general, I’m ambivalent about the military.

Certainly I will admit that it plays an important role in protecting the United States, even as, at the same time, I think that politicians misuse it, and that it’s involved in more missions than it can adequately accomplish right now – thanks to, I might note, George W. Bush.

But that aside, I need to learn better on how to distinguish between my ambivalence toward the military and those who are serving in the military: they have a job and most of them do it well.

So yesterday I found a video from a (formerly closeted) 21 year old American soldier stationed in Germany, who had stayed up late here in Germany, unable to sleep because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was ending. The video is of him calling his father back home in Alabama to tell Dad that he is gay.

Watching the video reminded me a lot of the angst that goes along with being in the closet – and honestly, I haven’t given that kind of internal angst much thought in years because I am totally and flamingly out now.

I’m at a point in life where Monday (and this is a true story), where one of my colleagues asked me if a woman that he was going to meet was beautiful or not – and I joked that I wasn’t in a position to judge. There followed a series of comments about my abilities to judge women and whether or not they are beautiful.

There’s a level of comfort here that is, for people who haven’t experienced life in the closet, inexplicably relaxing. Heterosexuals don’t understand how liberating it is to be able to have this kind of casual banter with colleagues and not fear reprisals.

And the truth is, there are times that I do feel some angst about being gay – typically when headed to small town America where being gay is, in some people’s eyes, a bad thing. I’m out and I don’t apologize for it because it is, for me, not a proclamation, just a statement of fact. I talk about cute men and flirt shamelessly with heterosexual men, even as I know that I have zero chance with them. And if they find the flirtation uncomfortable either I flirt even more outrageously or I decided I don’t want them as friends – and in my experience true heterosexual males are not at all put off by mild flirtation – it’s the people in the closet who are scared.

Regardless, I’ve forgotten what it is like to experience that base level angst of telling the people in your life who are already involved in your life, like close friends and family. The risk at that point seems incredibly high because if they do not accept the news you lose them – and this is a line I crossed a long time ago – my family didn’t care, and my friends, well… honestly, I lost one of my friends over the homosexuality. He was important to me at the time, but as he became an evangelical Christian and as I became more comfortable with being gay, he dropped me like a hot potato. At the time I was hurt, but today I don’t honestly care. I have newer, better friends.

But our soldier reminded me of these feelings.

It seems that he foolishly (or perhaps subconsciously) posted a video of a military band covering Rolling in the Deep that went viral on YouTube. And he posted it to his channel, the one where he’s anonymously coming to terms with being gay. And the audience for this concert numbered about 25.

Naturally when it went viral and his colleagues found the video, they found his channel, and it was easy for them to identify the local closet case.

And he took the trash out.

When he came back he was out to his colleagues.

And they didn’t care – they applauded and congratulated him. He felt that it was misplaced because it wasn’t anything he did, but something that he innately is – and on a certain level, he’s right, but on the other hand, it is brave to come out.

And I’ve forgotten the energy and fortitude required to come out.

>> Going back in time a bit — Back in Spring 1997 I started thinking about gays in the military for the first time. I reflected on this back in 2004.

>>> And I’m sad to report, another suicide due to bullying.  Why are kids such assholes to each other?

1 comment to Reflecting on September 20th, and more importantly, coming out.

  • Today, I saw two students holding hands as they walked across campus. Two male students, that is. All I could do was smile and hope that things are truly getting better for same sex couples.