For anyone who wants to know how we came to this pass I strongly reccomend you get ahold of a copy of Contested Closets by Larry Gross This uniquely informative volume tells the whole Gaysinthemilitary story which began with the “outing” of under-secretary of Defense Pete Williams — who was Dick Cheney’s press rep during Gulf War I.
Remember him? He was the guy who stood in front of the blackboard every night explaining to the assembled press whores what we’d supposedly done that day to beat back our evil former underling Saddam Hussein
That was back in the days of the old “No Gays at All” policy, which the military was ever-so-eager to forget about when it needed fresh meat. So all sorts of people were allowed in, sent over to Kuwait for that little bit of next to nothing and then when they were returned home shit-canned right out of the army with no “if,” “ands” or “buts.”
Michaelangelo Signorile had all the skinny on Pete — who technically was protected by laws concerning government personel created thanks to the pressure of a gay rights movement that he (Pete) couldn’t care less about. Thanks to fearless editor Richard Rouilard, Mike’s epose ran in The Advocado –causing such a stink that Cheney was forced to have Pete leave — sending him to NBC where he works as a reporter on legal issues to this day.
NBC being at that time owned and operated by General Electric ( the largest purveyor of weapons of mass destruction the world has ever known) it was a lateral move.
What Mike didn’t include in the article, but later revealed at the first tumultuous session of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association back in 92 was the fact that Patient Less Than Zero was a close pal of Pete’s. In Fact Sully and his boyfriend du jour and Pete and his respective love-muffin had a summer share in the Pines during the Gulf War.
For a more “up close and personal” angle on all of this try and get ahold of a DVD of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s lovely film Where Are We? The makers of The Times of Harvey Milk and the recently Sundance-premiered Howl, took a trip down south during the war and visited military bases where they met a number of gay and lesbian soldiers.
With Pete “outed” the fat was in the fire. A full repeal was demanded, and promised. But Clinton, being the lying scumbag that he is, relented and gave us “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) and it’s Evil Twin “The Defense of Marriag Act” (DOMA)
My own exper4icne with the military has been rather salutary. Back in the late 60’s when the Vietnam war was raging, I got my draft call-up. Repairing to Center Street I stood in line with hundreds of other unfortunates in our tighty-whities, clutching the form we’d been given to fill out. I, unlike far too many others, had checked The Whoopie Box:
“Do You have homosexual tendencies?”
Daaaaaaarling. Back in Kindergarden I had tendencies. Now I was in Full Homosexual Bloom.
Seeing what I’d checked, the nice young soldier (so nice in fact I considered hitting on him) cleared his throat gruffly and announced to my fellow-victims “Let’s back up a bit and have some room, OK?”
They all complied as he gestured for me to lean forward. “UH,” he began in a soft whisper,”Do you play the man or do you play the woman?”
What a strange thig to say, I thought. So I simply replied “Both.”
He then stamped my form and sent me off to see the shrink. But it was exceptional,y crowded that day, so they sent me to anothner desk where my form was stamped awardign me (drumroll please)
AND THUS I WAS SPARED DEATH AND/OR COMPLICITY IN MASS GENOCIDE IN THE JUNGLES OF SOUTHEAST ASIA!
The rest of “military career” unfolded stateside where I entertained all branches of the serve save for the Marines (viscious, greedy little pillow-biters the lot of them.) My favoirte was of course the Navy
As Jean Genet has noted the sailor’s outfit is “The most erotic article fo clothign ever devised.” It certainly looked sensational on the sailor I met one late afternoon in The Ramble in Central Park — as the sun was setting and what Tennessee Williams called “all the superflueous people” had fled. He liked to start group sex scenes then stand back and watch them for a bit before moving on to another one. Wedid several of these before repairing to a nearby coctail lounge (not a gay one) for Vodka Gimlets. Then back to the park for more well into the wee smalls. Finally, both of us exhausted, we said out good-byes. We made plans to meet the next day, but those plans never panned out. Just as well perhaps. The memory of his smile, and his cock, remains. All’s been told. Nothng to ask. Or explain.
Sing us out Lady Day.