Miriam Mannak
Miriam Mannak

Once upon a time there was a gay American soldier…

The United States of America is one helluva weird country. On the one hand, the land of the free and home of the brave claims to be the world’s biggest, bestest democracy. Indeed, it has a crispy clean Bill of Rights and on paper everyone is equal. In practice, however, things are a wee different. Take the social position of gays.

Only in a handful of US states are lesbiennes and homosexual men allowed to officially tie the knot and while heterosexual Americans who want to join the army are allowed to brag about their spouse, boyfriends and girlfriends, their homosexual counterparts up until very recently were ordered — by law, nogal — to shut the hell up.

South Africa, a country with a bad reputation for various reasons, in that respect could be an example to the US. In SA, gay marriage is legal and gays can freely join the army without legal restrictions. I am just saying. That does not mean I am not seeing the problems this country is facing with regards to homosexuality, such as the gay women that have been subjected to corrective rape and even murder. This country has a long way to go before homosexuality is regarded as normal as buying a ham sandwich. SA is, however, advanced in some areas.

Back to the US of A. Finally some hotshots seemed to have woken up from the 19th century: yesterday US District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the military to accept men and women who are openly gay within their ranks. Finally.

Of course, as always, there is some kind of a catch and that is that the scrapping of the “don’t tell, don’t ask” policy — implemented by the administration of Bill “I did not have sex with that woman” Clinton — could be overturned in the near future. Why? Because The Pentagon is decidedly in favour of this particular law and has toddled off to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to block Phillips’ order.

I just wonder why it is so bad to have gays in the armed forces. Is a gay man not manly enough? Is a gay woman to manly? Why have the American authorities such a problem with homosexuality? Well, according to the Pentagon “an abrupt change in ‘don’t tell, don’t ask’ policy would hamper the military”. Err, in what way I am wondering. What makes a gay soldier different from his or her heterosexual counterparts? If you decide you want to protect your country from whatever threat, it does not matter what race you are, what the colour of your skin is, what religion you have or whether you have a penis or va-jay-jay. So why would people be bothered with whether you’d prefer a man or woman in your bed? As long as you are able to do your job, defend your country and protect your fellow colleagues. Right?

  • Nyathi

    Ehh Miriam are you comfortbale undressing in front of a man you are not intimately close to? Will you feel comfortable doing the same in front of a lesbain?

  • Johan

    ”This country has a long way to go before homosexuality is regarded as normal as buying a ham sandwich!” Please let’s leave the Jews out of this!

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/miriammannak Miriam Mannak

    Nyathi: I don;t have a problem undressing or changing tops in front of a lesbian. Why? Because being a lesbian does not mean she fancies me. Like you do not fancy every woman out there, not all gay men fancy all men.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/miriammannak Miriam Mannak

    Johan: Er? Who said anything about Jews? Fill me in please.

  • hds

    Good Lord, can we get off the gay marriage wagon? People who carp at the US about that seem conveniently to forget (or never knew, and simply spouted their ignorance proudly) that we are a federalist system: ie, some responsibilities are delegated to the national government, and some to the states. Marriage is a state responsibility, which is why the age of consent differs state to state as do laws about requiring blood tests before marriage, etc. There will never be one sweeping law as in SA. It is case-by-case, state by state. It’s the way the system’s designed. Leave it be.

  • Stephen Browne

    Another stunning victory for conservative christianity I guess. So wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind.

  • Steve

    Actually, Nyathi has a point. Even if I did not fancy every woman out there, my (male) eyes would light up if a woman undressed in front of me. Not sure therefore that I would feel comfortable being naked in the shower in front of a homosexual man. And that would be perfectly normal.

  • X Cepting

    @Miriam – Nice. We have the Right to be hypocrites seems to be the only right not written down in the US Con but practiced vigorously nevertheles. I agree with your point about undressing. The thought that it should bother one is probably linked to the other urban legend that homosexuals are ill. One would be uncomfortable undressing in front of a mentally ill person, wouldn’t one? On the other hand, if one see people as people…

  • http://hardcopyink.com MLH

    It’s got nothing to do with the state’s opinion of gay people. It has a lot to do with homophobia. If you give your people the tools to kill, you don’t want them using them on their fellows, you want them used on the enemy. Sadly, in any society, homosexuals of either gender are often regarded as the enemy by their fellow countrymen. I’d say it takes an exceptionally brave one to want to join the military.
    But then I’ll never really understand the gay penchant for screaming my sexuality from the rooftops. While straight people often feel less need, that’s probably because they are less judged and more able to behave naturally in public.
    There was much to be said, I think, for the old-fashioned morals which decried public petting. It was also great not to let it all hang out. My secrets were exactly that: virtually secret. No one spent his or her life wondering whether my private life was lived above or below the national norm!

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/gavinfoster Gavin Foster

    So by your logic the women and men might as well share changing rooms, toilets, sleeping quarters, because they don’t all attract everyone of the opposite sex?
    I’m old and ugly enough not to worry about the gays, but if I was a young hunk I certainly would feel uneasy sharing too much with them.

  • X Cepting

    @MLH – Good comment. I detest public displays of any kind.

  • X Cepting

    @Gavin Foster – “women and men might as well share changing rooms, toilets, sleeping quarters” Why not? I think the sooner society gets over its body fetish the sooner it will grow up. Nudist beaches being a point in case. Bodies mostly go unnoticed there.

  • Eric Williams

    The undressing thing … There are already gays serving in the US military … they have always been there. if you are in a communal shower you are already naked in front of homosexuals … you just do not know who they are. Would knowing who they are change anyting?

  • Rory Short

    @Miriam you have confronted us with a difficult situation. I was once in a coffee bar run by a very accepting group of people. From my point of view it was an excellent place to meet women but obviously from others points of view it was a place for men to pick up other men. It was fairly densely packed with patrons and in the jostling I became aware that another male patron was intentionally rubbing himself up against me. I voiced my unhappiness with what was happening and the man shifted his attentions to someone else. I thought to myself, Whew! that is the sort of thing that women probably have to put up with all the time so I can’t complain.

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