Gays may now serve openly in the military (My bumper sticker worked; you’re welcome, gay people!) And some day, one imagines, they will be allowed to be marry each other too, at which point I would hate to be a young, bullet and commitment fearing gay person.
But this is a good day for freedom, if not a particularly good day for Mr. or Ms. Don’t-Shoot-Me-I’m-Not-Ready-to Settle-Down-And/Or-Die-Yet.
Another downside is it takes away a really handy excuse out of military service for the rest of us (well, the rest of you, I have cleverly aged my way out combat viability,) and while admittedly, there is no draft at the moment nor will there be in the foreseeable future, it is still a good idea to have oneself prepared for all possibilities. This is why I wear suspenders and a belt and where a helmet whenever I drive a car.
But that is the way with the civil rights: Lady Liberty never gives with one hand without taking with the other, and from most of the pictures of Lady Liberty I’ve seen, the other hand is holding a torch, so that’s likely to cause some pain as well.
It also should be remembered that when we say gays may serve openly, we probably don’t mean all that openly. They need to be gay the same way Sidney Poitier was black back in the 60s; which is to say, not too gay. And also very noble and stoic. And also perfect in every other respect. I am thinking Rupert Everett but less bitchy and without the English accent—which isn’t really very Rupert Everetty at all so Hollywood may have to build the perfect gay guy from scratch, probably using parts from straight actors.
And pity the first gay soldier who has a publicly bad relationship in the military. It is not hard to imagine all the cries of “see we told you it was a mistake to let them in” from the right. Which would be fair perhaps if they said the same thing about letting heterosexuals into the military every time one of them embarrassed themselves and their kind by having an affair or posing for pictures or forcing their heterosexuality on someone else in an overly aggressive or felonious fashion.
I would also like to take a moment to address the “gays in the military will cause a dangerous distraction” argument put forth by John McCain and several other prominent figures that have made a habit of not making any sense for the last decade or so. As far as I’m concerned, any soldier who is distracted by the concept of gays being somewhere nearby him while bullets are flying past his head probably does not have the proper focus to be an effective fighting machine anyway. In fact, I bet that guy is wondering the same thing no matter what laws congress passes or repeals. I bet that guy is ready to punch out the clerk at the Seven-Eleven for eyeballing him funny. So maybe that guy is the guy we should be banning from service.
But let us put aside these bits of sand in the Ointment of Freedom for a moment to celebrate not just the New Year but a New Age. We have become, with this small step, a slightly more enlightened nation. And though it is true that my friends in the gay community may have shortened their statistical life span a bit, never fear: I have just put a sticker of a peace sign on the back of my car. You are welcome in advance.