(Updated Repost) If I may, I’d like to give a shout out to all the gay military vets, today on Veterans Day. They don’t often get a mention, but they sure deserve the thanks. For myself, I can’t help but remember all the young gay men I met and served with during my time in the US Army. Most of all, I remember being stationed in Germany during the late ’80s. Back then there wasn’t a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy towards gays. If anything, the policy was “Don’t Even Think About It.”
I joined when I was 18 and, surprisingly, it was in the military that I came to accept my sexuality. And though it was a totally secret society, there was actually a very vibrant gay scene in the military back in the day. I remember two gay clubs in particular, both in Frankfurt. The dance club was called Construction 5 and the cafe/bar was called something like NYC Cafe, which I remember only because the decor was of the Manhattan skyline. Both clubs were off-base and owned by German civilians. This was essential, because it hampered the MPs (Military Police) from patrolling them to harass and spy on us like they could if we were on base. The clientele was almost exclusively American gay military service members – Army and Air Force with a few German civilians sprinkled in for good measure. I can remember walking into those clubs like it was yesterday. I remember so many friends and faces of gay soldiers who were forced to serve in silence and the struggles we faced. So today I just want to remember them and give thanks to all my fellow veterans both straight and gay for their service to and sacrifice for our country.
Update: I would also like to add my thanks and praise to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) for all their tireless work on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and their continuing efforts to achieve equality for gay and lesbian service members. SLDN has called on President Obama to sign an executive order mandating the inclusion of sexual orientation protections to the military’s current nondiscrimination policy (sadly, their calls on the president concerning that issue continue to fall on deaf ears). SLDN has also recently announced plans to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of laws that make married military same-sex couples ineligible for the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. The struggle continues. Keep up the good work. And Happy Veterans Day!