I see Obama has signed the repeal of DADT into law. While this is encouraging, my primary thought is finally.
My aunt served in the Army for 25 years, beginning in the early 1960s. She was stationed in Vietnam when things were exploding everywhere, and served tours in Japan, Germany, Korea, and other places. Wherever she was, she would send us kids coins and paper money from the country, which was totally awesome.
My aunt bought me cowboy shirts and boots when I was 4 years old and had a hankering for Western wear. She had a Palomino horse when she was stationed in the US, which was so cool.
After she retired from the military, she owned a bait shop and named it “Top 3” after me and my siblings. She was also a member of a motorcycle touring club, which is where she met her husband.
But, while in the military, she primarily had girlfriends.
Somehow, this did not ruin troop morale and bring about the downfall of the US.
I’m not about militarism, but I’m glad queer military folks will now receive their due respect. Finally.
When I first came out to my parents, there was tremendous uproar because OMG, do you know what happened to your aunt?
The way my mom said this, do you know what happened to your aunt?, I thought something crazy horrible had happened.
Here’s what happened to my aunt: her parents were asses to her when she came out to them in the 1960s, so she cut off contact with them. My mom helped her parents track down my aunt, and apparently there was all sorts of drama.
To which I said, my aunt’s bi-ness didn’t cause the drama, her parents’ stupidness did.
Before I came out, I had no idea my aunt was bi. She was just my bait-shop-owning, horse-owning, motorcycle-riding aunt who was super awesome (but smoked, which wasn’t cool).
I had to explain to my parents that nothing outside of myself, or outside of my aunt, caused us to be not-straight. It’s just who we are (and considering the genetic link, unsurprising). The military didn’t make my aunt bi (as my mom postulated), and women’s studies classes didn’t make me gay (for one thing, I’ve known I was not-straight since I was at least 9 years old). To thine own self be true, Free to Be You and Me, and whatnot.
Despite my parents’ wackiness about some issues, I give my mom kudos for allowing us to hang out with my aunt and remain in contact with her, even though she has the bi-ness. If being around my aunt did anything to us kids, it made us want to travel outside of the US.
I think the loss of contact with her sister back in the 60s made my mom realize that sticking together as family and supporting each other is more important than someone being not-straight. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and I’m not saying my parents learned it perfectly. But even when they were telling me that if I just grew my hair long, I wouldn’t be gay, they were also sending me rent money. As much as I wanted to cut myself off from them on some days, I still knew that they loved and cared about me (even if it was expressed in a convoluted manner). Life and family are complicated, no doubt. It took more than 40 years, but I think my parents are finally okay with the not-straightness of their family members.
In a similar manner, the repeal of DADT hopefully heralds a new era of openness and acceptance in the US. Let this silly matter of straight/not-straight not impede the truly important matters of justice, equality, and compassion. If my family can get over it, so can this country. End post-script.