A historic new law repeals Don't ask don't tell (DADT), allowing gays to serve openly in the military for the first time in our nation's history. I spent 6 years in the Navy. Never knew a single gay person before I enlisted.
It looked similar to the ship you see pictured here under the watchful gaze of lady Liberty.
Ours was being overhauled. The galley was gutted, the ship uninhabitable. So the crew was assigned to barracks some 10 miles inland.
Nice place. Quiet, rural. Summertime in Maine. Two guys to a room. Community showers. Had my sportster there.
My roommate, after about a month, says, "We need to talk."
"What's up?" I ask, certain I'm a cool dude, cuz I'm a man of the world now, earning my own keep for the first time. Out on my own (.. at 18). But we'd been talking for more than a month, so this sounded serious.
"I'm not straight," he says.
"What?" I ask, honestly not knowing what the heck he was talking about. "What do you mean?"
Four or 5 times he repeated "I'm not straight." Each time with a different emphasis & inflection.
I finally asked, "You mean, you do drugs?"
He finally came out and said, "No, I'm gay."
» I Can Only Imagine the Look On My Face
Caught me completely off guard. Can only imagine the look on my face. Musta been priceless. You know, my roommate. My only roommate. He's gay. He likes to have sex with other guys. I'm a guy. These are things that flashed thru my mind.
He was from Charleston, SC. Black. Pre-med drop-out. Intelligent. Articulate. Slightly feminine. No lisp, but soft spoken. Had a delicate air about him. Very pleasant. Excellent social skills. Good sense of humor. Cool.
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He'd even got a little PMS-y every once in a while. Cranky. That's after we had our little chat .. and it's also when his most feminine characteristics would emerge. Funny as hell.
Privately my ego was convinced he was lying when he told me, "You're not my type." Yet he never tried to come on to me.
We got to be good friends. Everybody liked him. And so did I.
As you might imagine, I had many questions for him. We spent almost a year together.
He would come back from the gay bars in Orlando (Florida) and tell me of his conquests.
I am not trying to stereotype, but he was well-endowed. I mean, in Maine, they had community showers. We're talking human tripod.
I found the underground gay culture/world very interesting. He asked if I wanted to come along, but I was too scared. "Don't worry," he said. "I won't let anything happen to you." But I never went. Maybe if he was more persistent.
After he told me, I did however, feel awkward showering in the community showers with him. And not just cuz he was so much bigger, either. But that was the only time I felt weird around him.
Sometimes he'd wake me when he returned, Friday or Saturday night. 1AM. 2AM. 3AM. Sometimes 4AM. In Orlando, I mean. He'd sit on the edge of my bed and tell me all about his gay escapades and how the night went.
It was all about scoring other gay guys. He had a big ego where his 'charms' were concerned. Fancied himself a modern-day Queen of Sheba. He'd crack me up, and sometimes shock me with these stories. Very entertaining.
[ We were no longer roommates in Florida. Rather he lived right down the hall. 10 steps. ]
He even introduced me to a few of his lovers. The more masculine they were, the more proud of them he was. The more he liked them.
This was a little wierd, I admit. He become more feminine around them. Cracked me up the way he would diss other (more-effeminate) gays as "sissies."
We even stopped at his house (in Charleston) .. for a couple of days .. before heading down to Orlando to start Nuke school. (We drove down together from Maine. His idea.)
Never been in a place before where I was the only white person (.. far as the eye could see). That was more of a culture shock than being exposed to my first gay.
I met his mother & sisters. Aunts & uncles. All very nice. Serious southern drawl. Drove from here to there and back again, visiting his relatives, and never saw another white person. Knew other gays during my enlistment, but he was my 'first'. =)
He met my family, too. I didn't tell them he was gay. He totally charmed my mother. Obviously he spoke her language. They were talking some deep stuff .. especially for having met only so recently. Like two girls holding a private conversation. Hushed tones.
Lots of guys used their gay-ness to get discharged from the Navy when they grew weary of it. After school was over, the jig was up and they sent your @ss packin' to the fleet. It could get ugly in a hurry.
If you told them (the Navy) you were gay, you would get out. They would send you to a shrink, who would ask pointed questions, that only a real gay could answer.
Long story short .. good move, Senators. About time. Welcome to the 21st century. Can't believe this took so long. People who risk their lives and die for their country shouldn't be treated like second-class citizens.
The Dog says the U.S. is the last major Western government to allow gays to serve in the miltary. These people are heros who have had to a live a lie cuz their sexuality makes some uncomfortable.
The military, above all, is a bureaucracy .. which tend to change at a glacial pace. Everybody on our ship knew who the gays were. It was no secret. And we even gave them the space they needed.
The fact that one gay person isn't necessarily attracted to another .. came as quite a surprise. Gay people are generally more educated about sexuality .. in my experience, which is admittedly limited.
For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » gays serve openly military law