Sunday, October 31, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Like Lady Gaga playing for the New York Yankees

The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin)

October 24, 2010 Sunday

A federal judge has stirred up the gays-in-the-military fuss again. Until President Bill Clinton approved the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, I was unaware there was a problem. The issue didn't come up during my two years of active duty after I was drafted in February 1954.

Black men were accepted freely, and one of my three roommates in Germany was a black sergeant. The idea of women in combat units wasn't on the docket yet. Gay men were drafted just like the rest of us and they went where they were told without questions.

I'm still recovering from seeing "La Boheme," an opera written by an Italian about a Parisian courtesan, sung in German. I don't recall anyone failing to perform assigned duties because of sexual preference.

Years later, the "don't ask, don't tell" edict generated more media bombast than if Lady Gaga was playing third base for the New York Yankees. This was followed by stories of people with lengthy, honorable records being thrown out of the military because of their sexual preference.

Formal acknowledgement of the situation became justification for latent bigotry to surface. The bigotry was always there, but before the new policy announcement, it would have been seen as at least mildly disreputable. With official "recognition," bigotry became legitimate policy.

Earl Gates,

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