Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

This post isn't going to be about writing or about books.  I'm going to indulge myself today and talk about Don't Ask Don't Tell.  I was with my family on my way to an early Christmas dinner with the in-laws when I heard that Congress had voted to repeal it, leaving only President Obama's signature left to make DADT a relic of history.

I don't talk politics around the in-laws, and they've only just left, and I feel like I've been holding my breath all afternoon and evening to say this:


Although you know by know that I'm a woman married to a man and have two children, my online moniker Kate in the Closet is not a clueless accident (like Teabagger).  It's an intentional signal that I support the LGBT community and advocate gay rights; I have for my entire adult life.  I vividly remember piling into a bus with dozens of my UPenn classmates to attend a massive LGBT march on Washington D.C. in the spring of 1993.  At that time, gays and lesbians weren't allowed to serve in the military at all, but that seemed like the least of our problems.  Rampant violence against homosexuals was trivialized under the law as a form of domestic violence (itself trivialized under the law), the community was only just starting to understand how to control the spread of HIV (which was still considered a death sentence), and my gay friends were literally terrified that their bright Ivy League futures would end if they came out (or were outed) to one wrong person.

Nine months later DADT was signed into law.  The community wasn't thrilled about the compromise, but it was a step in the right direction, a temporary layover to full inclusion.

A 16-year, 11-month, and 27-day layover.  A time when the military, the supposed embodiment of American honor, forced its own to lie and hide.  A time when the law of the land told young gays and lesbians that no matter what service they performed for their fellow citizens, no matter what sacrifices they made, that we were ashamed of them.  A time when soldiers were required to fight for their country, but prohibited from fighting for themselves.  A time when thousands of servicemen and women and their families lost everything because of whisper campaigns, witch hunts, and cavalier carelessness by unaffected third parties.  It should have been called Don't Ask Don't Tell And Pray Nobody Else Does Either.

It's a little hard to grasp how far the rest of the LGBT community has come during this time, and there have certainly been setbacks, but relative to prevailing attitudes, this repeal was long overdue.  As chief opponent to it, John McCain has forever tarnished his legacy with his last-minute desperate and nonsensical arguments, and I can't express how relieved I am that his ultimately naked homophobia couldn't carry the day.

So now here we are.  Each of the gay men and women in the military, along with their families, will have to decide for themselves how to proceed, and the rest of us will have to decide how to react.  I hope that you will join me in openly supporting everyone in the military as this momentous transition begins, and offering congratulations to everyone who takes a step forward in their lives, their relationships, and their own attitudes.


  1. I will join in your hallelujah! A big step in the right direction. I can't wait for the day when we've finally moved beyond subjugating other human beings.

  2. I am completely in support of this! However, I am now confused about your blogging're marreid to a man but are you in the closetabout your sexuality? I just thought you were in the closet about your writing!