Gay in the military: ‘Things don’t change overnight’
A few of us went out to have a drink to mark the event. It wasn’t a “Yay, we’re gay” night, but more of a quiet event. There’s still some apprehension about it. It kind of feels like we’re little mice and there’s this great big thing of cheese, and it sort of feels like a mousetrap. We know how fast things can change.
Q: Have you ever had issues with colleagues over your sexual orientation?
A: It’s a lot easier as a female being gay in the military than for males. In my barracks, we kind of joke around. But for guys, it’s about machismo. They still have to hide it a bit, and get picked on a lot more. People make gay jokes all the time — “yo homo” or “stop being such a fag,” but I don’t think they are meaning to be mean. You don’t get offended by it much.
You have to have a thick skin to be in the military. Think about boot camp — you learn to let things roll off your back. It’s interesting, though, because you wouldn’t make similar jokes about race.
We actually go through sensitivity training. We even had “don’t ask, don’t tell” training when I joined. We had our commanding officer talk about it and what the repeal meant, but lining up to go into the auditorium, there were lots of derogatory comments. More often, it’s younger people who don’t have much worldly experience who make the derogatory comments. I don’t feel singled out because of it. I don’t feel that I would be in any grave danger.
But I don’t say, for example, on my Facebook page that I have a girlfriend. I still feel nervous going out anywhere with my girlfriend on or near base. I’m anxious about holding her hand anywhere within the base. I don’t have to worry about being kicked out now, but I still feel uneasy. These things don’t change overnight.