- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.
An Army officer writes about being a lesbian in the 10th Mountain Division — and, in a courageous move, does it on the division commander’s discussion board. I think this is one of the best pieces of writing I have ever seen on the subject. Imagine your partner not being able to wrap you in his or her arms when you come home from a deployment.
Although many think homosexuality is a behavior, I beg to differ. I used to pray to God every night to change the way I am. Ever since I was in Elementary school I have known I’ve been different. My friends all had boy crushes and never talked about liking other girls. I did and felt all alone. I asked my dad what a “lesbian” was after reading about a woman named Ellen who came out publicly that she was gay. My dad told me that it was a girl who liked another girl and she was going to hell because of it. I cried myself to sleep that night and for many years after. I did not want to like girls. I tried dating boys with no success of changing my feelings. I figured I’d live a lonely life, until I allowed myself to be who I am. I was raised Catholic and my family was very homophobic until they realized they had a gay daughter. My other siblings are heterosexual. That was not conditioning, a trend, or some form of faulty upbringing that made me who I am today. I believe in God and know that he made me who I am. No one else can judge me but him and I put my full faith in him everyday as I go through life.
I also currently serve as an officer in the Army. I know exactly how hard it is to serve knowing that my career could end at any moment if someone were to find out about my sexuality. I have never gawked or looked at a woman inappropriately whom I serve with. That is not out of fear of being caught, it’s out of respect for other women. I would never want someone gawking at me while I change, so I don’t do that myself. I have deployed with 10th Mtn proudly and when I came home I was not able to share my relief and joy with my girlfriend as others could at the welcoming home ceremony. I live in constant fear that my career could end at any moment. I hate having to hide who I am and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t struggle with it. When I ended my relationship of 7 years, I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. My relationship lasted longer than most military marriages and yet I have no support. I still go to work everyday having to put up a front that everything is fine, because as far as anyone was concerned I wasn’t even dating anyone.
I can’t express the insurmountable stress it causes to have to hide a piece of who I am. When DADT is overturned, I won’t be jumping out of my office screaming “I’m gay” to the world. I’ll just be able to breathe easier knowing that my job is secure and relax. I won’t discuss my personal life with coworkers because it’s none of their business, but at least I would have the option to. I wouldn’t have to pretend to have a crush on a guy or go on a date with a fellow CPT in order for others to not get suspicious.
For those saying that gays shouldn’t be allowed in the military, the news flash is that we currently do and are allowed to. Under the current policy, no one is allowed to accuse us without evidential proof nor ask us questions about our sexuality. I am also not able to talk about my relationships as others are free to discuss their husbands/wives/girl/boyfriends. Could you heterosexuals imagine not being able to say anything about your partner? What if the policy said no one discusses their relationships, period? I bet the suicide rate would skyrocket. Don’t discuss your wife’s new attitude or husband’s infidelity. Don’t talk about your girlfriend getting pregnant or boyfriend proposing. Imagine going throughout your entire career not being able to discuss your relationships and not being able to bring your loved one to any military function. I bet you couldn’t.
It’s easy to say the policy should stay the way it is when you don’t have to live it.
Meanwhile, in the May issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, 2nd Lt. Matthew McCallum argues that the right and honorable thing to do is to let gay Marines be openly gay: “The Marine Corps needs to keep its honor clean and allowed declared homosexuals to serve with pride.”
Bottom line: I’m with these guys. I think some people are born gay. Who are we to second-guess God?