Last night, my partner and I spent New Years Eve in Dallas, Texas counting down the end of 2010 on the balcony of JR’s Bar and Grill in Dallas, Texas. It is within walking distance of our condo and was a great location to view the fireworks and the people driving and carousing in the streets below. More importantly, I struck up a conversation with a group of Native American kids celebrating. One of them asked if the hat Charlie was wearing was an OU hat because she had graduated from the University of Oklahoma. It wasn’t, but that led to the discussion that followed about Native American politics in Oklahoma, and their gay friend’s graduation from boot camp. I was able to tell him my story and ask him about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
It made for a positive and inspirational New Years Eve to have this young Native American soldier profusely thank me for what I had done to help pave the way for him, and relay to me how much the military has already changed in welcoming the policy. I’ve said before that those who hysterically worked against us were a bunch of overwrought “Chicken Littles” and his story proved it. He told me how the military was already telling the soldiers not to worry about their bunkmate’s sexual orientation before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed and that one day a gay or lesbian soldier might just save their lives. For someone who remembered the homophobic statements, “Not in my Navy!” by the older more homophobic supposed leaders in the military regarding service of openly gay and lesbian sailors, it was refreshing to see and hear first hand from a young Native American soldier testifying just how welcoming the military already has become. I’m impressed by the obvious foresight, military bearing and leadership and hope that same tone will be set in the other branches, especially considering the ridiculous assertions by General Amos during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal fight. I still think Amos should be asked to resign for his outrageous insubordination.
The new young gay soldier was also excited to hear I would be writing about our conversation on AMERICAblog Gay, but didn’t want his name used because he wanted to continue to blend in as “just another soldier who just happened to be possibly gay.” He said some of his friends knew he was gay, and would kid him by asking, “Are you gay?” and then follow it up with teasing laughter then shaking a finger while giggling, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!” Like those before him, he expressed how relieved he is to know if he does choose to come out then he will get to keep his career and benefits.
We must keep fighting, but we are winning this war for inclusion of LGBT Americans in all the promises laid out in our U.S. Constitution, and that chat with that one Native American soldier was most definitely the highlight of the evening besides the long kiss I shared with my man on the balcony of JR’s.