It’s been twenty-four hours since “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was buried in the national cemetery of shame and despite all the dire warnings America continues to exist. WAIT! you say, it’s too soon. Give it some more time; unit cohesion takes time to fall apart, morale may be high now after ten years of two long wars, but once those gays start to serve, just wait. Everyone else will leave the military, it’s going to happen, just watch!
For those of us living years or decades ahead of our time, we’re used to feeling edgy or avant garde, misunderstood and ridiculed. But once in a rare, brief while time catches up to us and for a moment, we experience what it must feel like to be…mainstream? Not quite, but close. Yesterday was one of those days. Don’t ask don’t tell disappeared.
There were many ridiculous aspects to the policy. In 1993 the debate was whether the USA should allow gay men and lesbians to serve, completely ignoring the truth that we were already serving. Then the argument switched to whether we should be allowed to serve “openly.” The truth is that gay men, one in particular, served in the military…not just as a semi-closeted Marine like many of my friends and me, but as an out-and-proud homosexual.
Meet my friend, Justin Elzie. His story is remarkable. In the nineties, Justin came out…on national news…and remained in the Corps through a fluke of timing. Justin’s written a book that you should read about his experiences. Playing By The Rules.
I recall Justin’s interview and he was an inspiration to me and thousands of others serving in silence. When people complain that there are no gay heroes, I say … Meet Justin Crockett Elzie.