The Civil War & Gays in the Military

When I was young, I remember my Dad, who was old, much older than most dads; he was 52 at my birth. Anyway, Dad once told me something, whether it was something he’d read, or just his opinion, it seemed to make a lot of sense, and still does.

Dad told me that after the civil war, all was not forgiven, and certainly not forgotten most places, especially in the south. There was deep rooted hate and distrust of those DamnYankees. (Dad explained that Damn and Yankee were one word down south. So along comes World War I and the Federal Government actually did something smart,which was, when drafting young men into the Army they sent them to other parts of the country for training. So lots of boys from the north went south, and vice-versa.  Of course when on liberty from the base, the boys met local girls and nature took over from there. Families might not be overly happy about this new DamnYankee in the family, but ‘well heck fire, he’s not *that* bad and he’s good to Betty-Sue and all those young’uns.’  All of that can be boiled down to one axiom, which I hope catches on, “Familiarity breeds acceptance”.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m in the Navy meeting my first gay friend. Well, first that I knew was gay, I almost certainly had some before that were still in the closet, but that is from hindsight; at the time, I didn’t realize it. But here was a friend telling me he is gay, now what do I do? Honestly it bothered me at first, but this guy is my friend, my shipmate, and he’s always been loyal and fair with me… am I going to turn on him, because he is gay? What did that matter anyway? I have friends that are other religions, other politics, other races. Did it matter that I didn’t practice, or even fully understand his lifestyle? These were the questions I asked myself, and the answer I’m happy to say was, “no, none of that matters you dummy, he’s your friend!”

So my point, if I have one, is the more people get to know each other, the more accepting they become. Gay people need to come out if they aren’t out already, as long as you can do it safely. Let your friends know you are gay, especially the gay bashers. Make them put a friend’s face on their ignorance and hate and see what kind of friend they are.  If they are still haters, then they were never very good friends, but I’m hoping and betting that most of them will have that talk with themselves and realize that being gay isn’t being an enemy or a threat, it’s just a friend that has a different lifestyle, and as Jerry Seinfeld taught us, “there’s nothing wrong with that.”

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