Don’t ask, don’t tell

In 1991 I made the worst decision I’ve ever made and the best. I joined the Australian Army. I was recruited as a musician and it was the worst decision because the Army and I ain’t a great combo, but also the best because I learnt lessons about people that have made me more understanding of every type of human ever since. The military certainly attracts the full diaspora of any society…

In the early days of my army time, I had to do three months basic training and it was a hideous time, although strangely satisfying, and that experience will stay with me forever. At that time, nearly 20 years ago (yikes!), it was still illegal to be gay in the military. My corporal and two out of the other three female corporals in charge of us recruits were lessos, but it wasn’t widely discussed or acknowledged. I just knew.

Anyhoo while we were in basic training one of them got “discovered” for being a carpet muncher (how, I don’t know?) and she was immediately put under house arrest, along with her girlfriend who was also in the army. They couldn’t leave the house, certainly couldn’t be seen together and they were treated like shit – it was a disgusting way to treat any human being and definitely victimisation at its ugliest. In the end, they were kicked out of the Army, which was a shame because they both loved it. Definitely an eye opener witnessing that.

Not long after that, ‘the don’t ask don’t tell’ policy came into being and it’s stayed pretty much the same ever since. Apparently 29 nations allow gay recruits, including Israel, Canada, Germany and Sweden, so the precedent has been set, but some governments remain pathetic in fighting this battle and still don’t have the guts to make it legal. Then again, a lot of the 29 countries’ have compulsory military service, so it’s already a little different for them. If they were anti-gay, everyone would claim being homosexual just to miss out on their military service.

But don’t ask don’t tell is better than nothing and at least gay people who want to be in the military have been able to do it without being victimised – well victimisation still happens, but it’s a little bit of progress.

So now the argument comes up again in the US – this time the fight for legalisation – and a California judge, Virginia Phillips, has ruled that the policy is illegal and has ordered a global injunction to halt it. Now homosexuals in the US can join the military and admit that they are gay, BUT as an appeal is highly likely , anyone who does admit it will probably be kicked out once this happens. So don’t ask don’t tell still stands.

The thing that shits me about it is the argument against accepting gay recruits. I actually think it’s the same as the argument against women in the “proper” military, which only happened in the 70s and 80s, but in reverse.

For example, the main bollocks that came up from my fellow male soldiers was along the lines of “imagine being in war and you have to share sleeping quarters with a gay? They might try and shag you!” Not only would a musician never be in that situation, but hello, what an ignorant comment to make in the first place! And the other I used to love “what if they’re senior to you, they might force themselves on you?” Well as we can see, with women in the US war machine properly for the first time in modern history, rape of female soldiers is very high, so I’m not worried about the gay recruits, the straight ones are far more dangerous.

The reality is, gay people are just like anyone else, they just tend to have a preference for the same sex and generally that preference is towards gay people of that sex, not just anyone with the appropriate appendage. They are no threat to anyone, are not “sick”, and they’re as keen to fight for their country as anyone else. You know what, with the state of chaos the world is currently in; people in the military should be welcoming them with open arms. They need the numbers and they’ll fight as hard as anyone else, until the day comes when military is no longer a necessity. I hope that day comes soon.

Yours, without the bollocks

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