Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five years after

I would like to thank Bill Clinton for Don't Ask Don't Tell, in spite of what became a horrible law, which gave me the opportunity to serve our country. As a result of Clinton's efforts, I enlisted in September 1994, fulfilling lifelong dream of serving in the United States Navy.

Likewise, I thank President Obama for being tenacious and fierce in making it possible to serve without fear of being rejected for being nothing more than who I am. 

Five years ago today marked the end of DADT. Five years ago today, thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers sighed a breath of relief knowing we could now serve openly with dignity. We offered our country the same service and loyalty--no more, no less than our other fellow members of the Armed Forces.

In May 2010, I went to the halls of our Capitol with 300 gay former servicemembers and members of the Human Rights Campaign to lobby Congress to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. 

We were welcomed by some of our leaders and not so much by others. While there lobbying, and from what I learned I was the only member of this group who was currently serving in the military so you might imagine I felt a little bit scared being so public (especially since I had served in the Pentagon for two weeks a mere two days prior).

In reality, I consider myself very lucky. I served with officers who led and who realized that who and what we are was far less important than what we offered in service to the Navy, our country, and our people.

Funny thing is, even after DADT was abolished, I served exactly as I had before. My being gay was never an issue nor did I care to make it one. I was there to do my job and to do it as well as I humanly could. Anyone who serves in the military knows there is no 'I' in team.

During my 21 years of service, I never once came out to a fellow Sailor except to both Cmdr. Elizabeth Zimmerman and Cmdr. Ron Flesvig on my last day of service. Zimmerman's words made me tearful as she let me know that would never have mattered if she had known.

Nor do I think I ever properly thanked these officers: Cmdr. Tim Nosal, Cmdr. Christine Phillips, Cmdr. Robert Carr, and Cmdr. Nancy Harrity, who I more than suspect surely "figured me out," but never cared... (if anyone else knew, I thank them too) they went out of their way in subtle tones to let me know I was accepted for the job I did, for who I am, not for what I am. I am eternally grateful!

Since retiring a year ago this month, I have been active with a gay veteran's support group at our local VA Center and if I have learned anything, I realize I was one lucky Sailor. I served with some of the finest officers and enlisted personnel possible. 

Overall, my Navy career was one of great fun, but my VA therapist has told me on numerous occasions that my experiences were an anomaly, and I guess I can see that when listening to some of the horror stories from my fellow vets and what they went through. 

So you can understand why I have a great deal of gratitude for those with whom I served and with this President of ours.

One of my fondest remembrances after abolishing DADT occurred late in my Navy career. 

I remember the first time I walked into NOSC Chicago's drill deck during gay pride month 2013 and was greeted by a sign on the quarterdeck that read, "We welcome, celebrate and acknowledge our gay and lesbian Sailors. At lunch that day, Cmdr. Carr even dryly said, "Who thought we'd ever see that?"

I can honestly tell you, NOT me.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

'Nuff said?

There is nothing I can add that I have not (nor hasn't been) said before. I am reminded of the wise words of a famous science fiction character, "Remember." Nuff said?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

50 years trekking the universe!

I cannot remember geeking out on a topic as much as I have today.

Star Trek is 50 years old today (as least as far as when it aired... the show already was a year in production or so when it aired). Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, started putting words to paper in 1964.

I guess I would call Star Trek one of my oldest, and longest lasting friendships. I was nine years old when it first aired on this date in 1966. I've loved every moment that involved watching it, reading it, living it (I view my Navy adventure as something born out of my love of the show).

My imagination was captured from the moment I saw the USS Enterprise in orbit. The characters, the stories, the dilemmas, the morality plays, all have served to make me who I am today. If that sounds corny, so be it but I know it to be true.

The show was definitely a product of its time, and I certainly hope it has influenced our future. Can a TV show do that? Can a book? Can a movie? Can a comic book? Sure!

Star Trek has shaped just about every facet of my life. The show's view of humanity, of diversity, of tolerance, of a curiosity of the universe about us has inspired me. I would not be wrong if I stated that 90% of the friendships I have had through my life were with those who share my love of the TV show.

I met my best friend in high school Randy and girlfriend, later wife because of the show. My South Bend friends including Sherri, Jane, and Brian. Many of my friends from the Navy (a good many) are Trekkers too... Barnes & Noble employees are all too often nerds (we love books and a lot love Star Trek too).

My son Wes and I share a lot of interests in life and no one should be surprised knowing that Star Trek is one of them. Poor kid never stood a chance. Wes was born but four months before the release of Star Wars, but in our household, there were always books and most of them were Star Trek.

One of my Navy friends, Tim, with whom I served with in Afghanistan, told lots of people there I have a huge tattoo of the Starship Enterprise embellished between my shoulder blades. I don't. But it sure was amusing because just about anyone who knows me wouldn't have been surprised if I had... and they were somewhat let down when they learned I don't. Maybe I should?

Star Trek has led to conventions, to book groups. Heck, Sherri and I taught a Star Trek class at IUSB's Continuing Ed program back in the 90s. It was a blast! Sherri and I belonged to a Star Trek group (USS Magellan) in Chicago for 20 years. No, we didn't wear uniforms at our gatherings, but we did do an awful lot of community service work (blood drives, charity drives for PBS and the like).

 is what Star Trek is about.... being a part of our world, not retreating but working to make a better tomorrow for everyone.

I think Gene Roddenberry and the hundreds, if not thousands of people before the cameras and those behind the scene, the authors, directors and technicians would all be proud of how their contributions to this little sci-fi dream have changed the world for the better.

Happy 50th anniversary, Star Trek! Here's to the future!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ding dong, the bitch is dead... the wicked bitch, the mean old bitch

So, I hear Phyllis Schlafly is dead. Good. Few women could lead me to use the c-word (no, not Coulter but close), but Schlafly could. I always wanted to wipe that smug, sanctimonious smile from her haggard face. The woman was pure evil and I would happily dance on her grave.

As you may have surmised, I do not like her Mrs. Schlafly. Not one bit. The world will be a better place without her (and her ilk).

Ever since women achieved the right to vote, a movement was afoot to see the Equal Rights Amendment become the law of the land. In the late 1970s and early 80s, the ERA was on track for passage until Schlafly scared the bejeebus out of the American public and a spineless Congress.

Today, women who bemoan that the working place treats their gender unfairly can thank Schlafly for her tireless efforts and fearmongering.

She argued the ERA would lead to unisex bathrooms and forcing women to join the military. Really, where do these idiots come up with this stuff? She argued that the ERA's passage would lead to same-sex marriages.

(the horror)

Schlafly, not content with destroying women's chances at equal rights in marriage, family and in the workplace, set her sights on arguing against gay rights, never mind that her own son John was gay.

When her son publicly came out in 1992, Schlafly denounced the press saying they were manipulating and using her son's "truth" to embarrass her. Good. Way to go, wench.... make your son's story all about you. AND...

Any parent who can so publicly work to make even their own child's life difficult deserves any humiliation that can be hoisted against them.

So, the woman who argued against women working in the job market claiming it would destroy the mores of the American traditional family, DID work outside the home--on the road from city to city, state but state. Her campaigns made the lives of millions of women more difficult. 

The woman who called homosexuals Godless were also responsible for the destruction of the American family, in turn, led a nasty campaign that surely caused her own son a great deal of pain and suffering.

Needless to say, she will not be receiving, let alone be nominated for any mother of the year awards--or humanitarian, either.

Few people have caused so much pain for so many as Schlafly. She was a 1950s throwback. A hypocrite. A fearful person who made it her mission in life for us all to live in a past best forgotten. Rather than making for a better tomorrow for future generations, she chose bigotry, fear and ignorance.

Personally, if there is a hell I know she will make great company for the likes of Anita Bryant (not yet deceased) and Rev. Fred Phelps. 

And yes, I know it is not nice to spit on someone' grave but I can think of few persons more deserving.