Back in the early eighties, I was in the Navy and had the privilege of being aboard the USS Carl Vinson as part of the pre-commissioning crew, and for the maiden voyage, a world cruise in 1983. I am glad for the experience. I made many friends whom I will never forget, some of whom I am in contact with to this day. I had friends of all races, backgrounds, from different states and from many of the different cultures within our great country. However, a few friends I had were actually in the Navy…illegally.
So, let’s cut to the chase. These young men were gay. Of course, the U.S. military had strict rules about homosexuals. Basically, the rule was that homosexuals were not allowed to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. A few times on the Vinson, someone would be investigated by the legal department for being a homosexual. If the person admitted it or was proven to be gay, they were given an administrative discharge and sent home. This is just the way things were.
The hot issue here is, should we allow gay people to serve in the military?
I look back at the men, who were gay, that I knew during my time in the Navy. They served as well as anyone else. Each wore his uniform as proudly as the man next to him and did his job with confidence, competence and honor. This had no bearing on the long standing rule against gays serving in the military, however. One thing that saved their job or career was their superiors overlooking the fact that they were gay and focusing on their stellar service.
“I don’t mean to interrupt again, John, but are you suggesting that it is a good idea to allow homosexuals to serve in our nation’s military? What if they spread their idealism…what if they express their perversion…what if they rape someone?”
Oh, good. You again. As I mentioned, I was on the Vinson during its maiden voyage, an eight month world cruise. We had two periods where we spent over sixty days out at sea. If any such things that you suggested were to happen, being cooped up in a ship for two months would certainly bring them to light. I never felt even the remotest threat of being “indoctrinated” or violated. The notion is a bit ridiculous.
Should gays be allowed to serve in the military?
I see no reason why not. I know that some feel uncomfortable with the idea – get over it. You don’t have to agree with a person’s lifestyle to enjoy working with them and having them as a friend. We need to concentrate on changing our own attitudes rather than trying to change other people. People only change as a result of what is happening within themselves – in their own hearts – not because we make laws ban them from what we feel they are not worthy of participating in.
Any citizens who love our country should be allowed the opportunity to be able to serve in our Armed Services, if they so choose to do so. As long as people can maintain pride and professionalism, let them serve and serve well.