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It is Gay Pride season in most American cities so there will be parades, celebrations, observances, marathon bike rides and other events designed to heighten the awareness of what critics like to call the â€œgay agenda.â€ This year it coincides with a growing call to do away with the ban on gays in the military, growing objections over President Bushâ€™s nominee for Surgeon General and increasing acceptance of gays in the fabric of life in America. It is also a time to begin to question whether anything is â€œso gayâ€ anymore.""
All Democratic candidates for President have vowed to abandon the failed â€œDonâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tellâ€ (DADT) policy put forth by President Clinton after his attempt to remove the ban entirely was met by a firestorm of criticism. In the 14 years of the policy, sold as a way to permit gays to serve in the military so long as â€œthey didnâ€™t flaunt itâ€ the result has been an increase in service discharges because of being gay, quite the opposite of that predicted at the time.
The most infamous examples of the failure of the policy came with the disclosure by the 9/11 Commission that 58 Arabic linguists had been discharged from the military for a breach of the DADT policy. At a time when our military in Iraq is severely hampered by its inability to provide service members who understand Iraqi citizens, this turns â€œsupporting our troopsâ€ on its head.
Repeated surveys of Americans in general and troops in particular show widespread support for allowing gay Americans to serve in our military. Apparently our soldiers have more fear of ridiculously extended tours of duty than of someone seeing them naked in the shower. Gays serve in the military of nearly all our â€œalliesâ€ and have done so without incident and with distinction for many years.
It is way past time to remove this discriminatory ban and honor the willingness of all who wish to serve their country.
As for the nomination of Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., as Surgeon General, there is little surprise that Bush would pick someone who would appeal to the conservative religious base of his party, but it is disappointing that he did so when it is clear this would be yet another divisive move on his part. The doctor has publicly taken stands upon his religious beliefs and eschewed objectivity. As a private person that is his right. As the doctor for all America, it is intolerable. Odd that Dr. Joselyn Elders was removed for making a common sense observation that masturbation might avoid complications from sex among young people yet Holsinger is free to incorrectly stigmatize gay sex as unhealthy by its nature.
The nomination should be withdrawn and the President needs to put forth someone who will heal America, not further divide us.
Despite the remaining division of opinion about gay marriage, gays have for the most part quite successfully been assimilated into the larger population. An overwhelming percentage of Americans feel they should be treated as any other citizen is and that gays are â€œnormalâ€ human beings. Among young people, there is not only high levels of acceptance, but also an attitude of â€œwhat is the big fuss about?â€
This long sought for acceptance raises an interesting question. Is there really much that distinguishes gays from the rest of America anymore â€“ other, of course, than what we do in bed. (Although even on that front there is a growing convergence of behaviors and even choice of partners when it comes to recreational sex especially)
In other words, do we need â€œGay Prideâ€ anymore?
Being a gay man, it used to be fairly easy to rely upon my highly honed â€œgaydarâ€ to pick my fellow queer men out of a crowd. No longer. Not only have the fashions of gay and straight men become nearly indistinguishable, the behaviors have merged as well. The days of the â€˜flaming queenâ€ are passing and despite the appearances of those who march in Pride parades, it is darned tough to tell us apart anymore.
This really is a dilemma faced before by all those who were once different but who have become assimilated into the mainstream. How to preserve the beauty of oneâ€™s culture and still gain acceptance and â€œnormalcyâ€ in the larger culture?
Some in the gay community resist this loss of identity and feel the calls for gay marriage are unwanted. But as with most things cultural, the votes that count are those made with the behavior of our young people. On that score, the votes are overwhelmingly in favor of â€œweâ€™re just like you except what we do in bed.â€
So I say fine, America, come on in and join our Pride celebrations and parades! Letâ€™s instead celebrate and have pride in everyone, each one of us, for our uniqueness, or individual personality and quirks.
Lets be proud to be, just as we are.