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No, I'm not active duty (any longer), but I spent 20 years in the navy before retiring a few years ago. I am gay. It took me a while to figure it out (blame it on me being a good Catholic boy who didn't want to believe he was gay, despite evidence to the contrary). Obviously, since I completed my 20 years, I never revealed this to anyone *in* the military (and precious few outside). I don't present as obviously gay (I have none of the stereotypical gay traits, and don't have friends who do either). Outside of the fact that I like guys instead of girls, you'd have been hard pressed to figure out that I was gay. A few close friends wondered, but since I never said anything, nobody really suspected. Some of the people who worked with me (or for me) would have had a problem if they knew that I was gay; most would not. I never acted inappropriately with any of my shipmates, and it didn't take a superhuman effort to do so. Much as most straight men are able to conduct themselves in an appropriate fashion when around attractive women, I simply ignored my hormones and got the job done. If I had been allowed to serve openly, it's likely that I would have allowed a bit of my personal life to slip out, but I still wouldn't have been a militant homosexual trying to convert three guys in order to win a toaster. Even now, while I am open about my relationship with my partner, it's not the totality of my existence, and for most gays in the military, it would be the same. When DADT was first introduced in the early 1990s, I thought it was a bad idea. (Even though I was in denial at the time, I still think it was not a good idea, as society as a whole was not really ready for it.) However, times have changed, and the military has changed with it. Most of my junior servicemembers don't have a problem with gay people (at least in the abstract), and some of those opposed will change their minds once they interact with openly gay shipmates or fellow airmen, soldiers, or marines. As a supervisor, I constantly had to deal with relationship problems with my heterosexual subordinates; I never had any problems with gay sailors (and it's likely that I had one or two, although they too never revealed their identities.) Since gay relationships don't result in unexpected pregnancies, they are less likely to be problematic than hetero relationships, as dealing with paternity, child support and related issues consumed far too much of my time as a supervisor. Dealing with a gay or lesbian relationship gone south is not nearly as big a deal. We already have fraternization policies in place; the wording doesn't even need to be changed to expand the definition in include same-sex couples. Sexual harassment policies also don't need tweaking, as harassment is harassment, regardless of the sexes of the supervisor and subordinate. As a gay man, I really resent the assumption that because I am gay I am somehow totally different from straight men in a way that is detrimental to unit cohesion. Twenty years ago, that would have been true, but not any longer. It's time that we jettisoned DADT as a relic of the past, something that no longer serves the good of the military, and recognize that some of our most talented servicemembers, particularly linguists and some medical personnel, are gay.
Toggle Commented May 13, 2010 on DADT statement from Milbloggers at BlackFive
1 reply
How terrible. MAJ Olmsted was a wonderful guy. My condolences to his family.
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2008 on Andy Olmsted at Obsidian Wings
1 reply