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Out of the Closet and Into a Uniform
November 19, 2012 6:02 AM   Subscribe

For their club’s big debut this semester, the cadets at the United States Air Force Academy hammered out talking points, printed fliers and hung their logo, a rainbow-colored globe, in their booth in Arnold Hall. Then they held their breath.

On the day known as Blue Rush, when incoming freshmen learn about extracurricular activities, Lydia Hill and Brandon Reams were making history, introducing their fellow cadets to Spectrum, the academy’s first club for gay, lesbian and bisexual students and their straight friends and supporters.
[SLNYT]
posted by hippybear (20 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Outstanding. I approve of this use of my taxpayer dollars.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:14 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


As someone who protested ROTC in my college because the armed forces didn't accept LGBT people, I have to say that this does my gay heart good.
posted by xingcat at 6:16 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given the recent history of extreme bigotry at the Air Force Academy (and the greater Colorado Springs community) this is an incredibly brave move and these people are amazing.
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:17 AM on November 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


As much as the computer I keep in my pocket and the satellite navigation in my car, this article makes me feel like I am living in the future. Bravo to these brave people.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:18 AM on November 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Out of Annapolis Project - "A Detailed Study and Documentary Film about LGBT Alumni of the US Naval Academy"

Mids describe smooth transition from 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' - "Eight months after the repeal, midshipmen both gay and straight describe a quiet but significant transformation at the Naval Academy. Gay midshipmen are seeking recognition for a student club. Last month, for the first time, faculty members and staff attended an off-campus dinner that had been organized secretly every year by and for gay midshipmen."

Gays graduate openly at military academies, May '12, Navy Times.

Gay Marine’s husband surprised at respect shown by Naval Academy
Fliszar, a Marine aviator who served two tours in Vietnam, survived that heart attack. But last July the Albany Park resident suffered another one that killed him at age 61.

Hoping to fulfill Fliszar’s wishes, Ketterson contacted the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and told them that Fliszar, Class of ’71, had wanted to have his ashes interred at the USNA’s Columbarium, a serene white marble waterside crypt next to the school’s cemetery
...
Ketterson sent a copy of the marriage license. That changed everything.
“I was respected,” he said. “From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.”
The damn Air Force is getting credit, grumble grumble.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


The damn Air Force is getting credit, grumble grumble.

The article itself mentions not only the Air Force Academy, but also the Naval Academy and West Point, and also includes a bit about a gay Marine who gave a presentation to a student group.

I think all the branches of our military are doing all this quite well, from my outside vantage point.
posted by hippybear at 6:36 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The damn Air Force is getting credit, grumble grumble.

To be honest, my mind was blown more at the fact that same-sex couples went to the dance at the Naval Academy. I mean, my high school had a GSA by the time I graduated and that was after two English teachers had fought for one for several years. No one was going to go to prom as a couple.
posted by hoyland at 6:37 AM on November 19, 2012


And, uh, I have no point of reference for college. I hear there were dances. No one I knew went to such things, regardless of sexual orientation.
posted by hoyland at 6:39 AM on November 19, 2012


Welp. 'In The Navy' is in my head now, for good or ill.
I guess I shouldn't have discovered that YMCA last night.

And I swear: those are true facts. I mean, if I was going to make a joke I would reference Pansy Division.

I guess this is a new world, then.
posted by Mezentian at 6:41 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The commenters at NYTimes brought up two things:

Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich and his grave at the Congressional Cemetery.

and great use of the 'Fashion and Style' section, NYT.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:56 AM on November 19, 2012


I think all the branches of our military are doing all this quite well

Why wouldn't it go well? It would seem that the American military is at the end of the day a professional organization. Policy changes and the military changes with it. All of the previous arguments about this being disruptive to military discipline is absolutely undermined by this display of military discipline.
posted by three blind mice at 6:58 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why wouldn't it go well? It would seem that the American military is at the end of the day a professional organization.

As someone who has spent lots of time in "professional organizations" I can tell you these organizations have cultures and are filled with humans. Culture can be hard to change and humans are not machines that take new instructions and execute them flawlessly. Change doesn't always go well and when it does, it's almost always because people worked hard for it (and should be thanked for it).

And also there's the American military and then there's the Air Force academy. It's like expecting Bob Jones University to quickly reflect changing societal attitudes to, well, anything.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:05 AM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I know that there are plenty of people who think that gays and lesbians being able to serve in the military isn't progress--progress to them would be no one serving in the military--but I come from a Navy town and now live in a (to a lesser extent) Air Force town and I am really happy to hear this news.

There will always be people who want to sign up for the military in the US and serve in that way their country, and I'm really genuinely glad that folks who aren't straight won't have to hide themselves during their service anymore.

I am also awed by these students' courage: my high school didn't even have a GSA when I graduated under a decade ago and certainly no one came out publicly or went to dances with same sex partners--and that resistance is nothing compared to the conservative culture of the service academies.
posted by librarylis at 7:09 AM on November 19, 2012


And also there's the American military and then there's the Air Force academy

I get the whole culture is hard to change thing, my point is that the culture of obeying the chain of command is the core of military culture.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen set the end of DADT for September 20, 2011. The Commander in Chief issued new orders. Why should we be surprised - or even grateful - that the Air Force academy carries them out?
posted by three blind mice at 7:17 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to see what happens when the Christian Dominionists meet up with their fabulous military brothers.

Petraeus, btw, was a member of this crusades cult. Nutty fucker.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: Because culture is hard to change. I also believe it's important to keep the perspectives and experiences of minorities who are integrating into places where they had previously been barred at the forefront of discussion. Eisenhower may have ordered the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, but the Little Rock Nine were also heroes for daring to go to class.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:17 AM on November 19, 2012


Goddamn courageous leaders. The kind of people I want signing up to defend my country.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:20 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why should we be surprised - or even grateful - that the Air Force academy carries them out?

people can drag their feet and look the other way and obfuscate, not to mention intimidate. raping fellow soldiers has been illegal for awhile now but the armed forces have a pretty shitty record when it comes to enforcing and following through with legal proceedings. i'm going to go out on a limb and say if the opinion of the average soldier were 80/20 against out gays in the military, there would be a lot more friction. it's not working because soldiers are so disciplined, it's because they're young. and yes, the article does mention some minds changed etc, but that's about what you'd expect from a civilian going through college. young people meeting out young gays? that is where homophobia goes to die.

Christian Dominionists meet up with their fabulous military brothers.

you know what? it's a long shot, but the conservative christian obsession with homophobia has turned out more than a few straight atheists. if uncle sam being forced to accept gays in the military drives a teeny bit more of a wedge between unthinking religious beliefs and reality, all the better.

i'm that type of cynical DoD-hating lib that kind of dies a little when i think about 22 year olds all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed talking about serving their country and honor and whatnot. that being said, these are the type of people that get shit done when they put their minds to something. congrats on their bravery. it's only been a year since the repeal of DADT. the incoming class will be graduating into a much different military than the one they joined. (it's a couple years like college right?)
posted by twist my arm at 9:40 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'll be even better once the US military allows trans people to serve. (DADT wasn't repealed for trans people, in case you didn't know.)
posted by jiawen at 6:02 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]




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