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Marching orders
February 7, 2006 3:33 AM   Subscribe

He wasn't asked. He didn't tell. Now he's out — and discharged. Eye-opening tale of Jeff Howe, courtesy of Raw Story. After 9/11, feeling personally unfulfilled and wanting to serve his country, Howe enlisted at the age of 29. Knowing he was gay but realizing that Army guidelines forbade his kind, he re-entered the closet, underwent basic training, and was shipped to Iraq. After a two-year stint on the front lines, with five commendations, he returned stateside. Then he was stop-lossed, shipped back to Iraq, and started writing a blog. That began a chain of events that, through no apparent fault of his own — or loose lip-flapping — led to Jeff Howe and the Army parting company.
posted by rob511 (37 comments total)

 
I'm so scared of terrorism I'm happy to give up my Fourth Amendment rights.
But I'd rather die than be defended by a faggot-ass ass-fucker.
--yours, the Christian Right.
posted by orthogonality at 3:41 AM on February 7, 2006


In July, some of the unit's trucks were hit with enemy rockets. His company commander told Howe to take pictures and post them on his blog. When the brigade commander was told about the posted pictures, he balked, feeling the pictures would hearten the enemy. Howe was ordered to delete his blog. Quickly thereafter, a background investigation was started to see if Howe had terrorist ties.

terrorist ties?? wtf?
posted by three blind mice at 3:52 AM on February 7, 2006


It *is* a bit on the ridiculous side, his whole story. His blog was approved by his commanding officer, who incidentally ASKED him to take pictures of the truck and post them, and that results in a background check to see if he's connected to terrorists? Jesus.
posted by antifuse at 3:55 AM on February 7, 2006


three blind mice writes "terrorist ties?? wtf?"

Makes sense: both Muslims and faggots refuse to accept God's laws as written in the Bible.

After all, we all know atheists can't be citizens or patriots.
posted by orthogonality at 3:57 AM on February 7, 2006


Oh cool! Does that mean I'm not an American now? Awesome!
posted by beerbajay at 4:11 AM on February 7, 2006


So the thing about unit cohesion?

Does it mean that the army doesn't want gay soldiers for the same reason that some mountaineers don't like taking women on their expeditions? ie, when the gay soldier starts having a sexual relationship with a member of the unit, all the others will get jealous and start fighting to show that they are the true alpha male and therefore they should be the one getting sexually serviced?

I can see how that might be a threat to unit cohesion...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:24 AM on February 7, 2006


Not directly related but first UK military gay civil partnership . (Apologies for linking to the Sun, the reporting in that article is dreadful.)
posted by ninebelow at 4:28 AM on February 7, 2006


Sounds like Jeff just gave us all an excellent way to dodge the draft, should it come in the next few years. If they dropped 10,000 non-hetero soldiers in the midst of this stop-loss, lowered recruitment standard storm, then they'll certainly carry that through to a draft situation.

Since MetaFilter is a public forum, I encourage everyone who wishes to establish their "Don't ask, but whoops, I told!" status by placing a tilde (~) below.

We're all Gays now?
posted by VulcanMike at 4:51 AM on February 7, 2006



Don't ask, Don't Tell, Girlfriend!

posted by eriko at 4:53 AM on February 7, 2006


through no apparent fault of his own

Without even entering the discussion on whether or not the military's attitude on homosexualty is idiotic or not, Jeff violated the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy by posting the personal ad. He told. So saying that there was 'no apprarent fault of his own' seems a little disengenious.
posted by Dagobert at 4:57 AM on February 7, 2006


orthogonality's quote is by George H. W. Bush.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 5:00 AM on February 7, 2006


Does it mean that the army doesn't want gay soldiers for the same reason that some mountaineers don't like taking women on their expeditions? ie, when the gay soldier starts having a sexual relationship with a member of the unit, all the others will get jealous and start fighting to show that they are the true alpha male and therefore they should be the one getting sexually serviced?

You are aware, Peter McDermott, that there are women in the Army.
posted by three blind mice at 5:22 AM on February 7, 2006


Heh. Do what you're told, get fucked. Niiiiice.

Why on earth did they think he might have ties to terrorists because he posted some pictures he was told to post? That is just insane. They must be totally desperate and have no legitimate leads to follow if they're wasting their time (and our money) doing investigations on a soldier who is totally above-board and compliant with his blog.
posted by beth at 5:24 AM on February 7, 2006


Don't ask, don't tell, don't act surprised when you tell people you are gay via an internet profile and subsequently are discharged.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:35 AM on February 7, 2006


The article doesn't say, but due to the outrage, I'm guessing that the online dating profile was put up *before* he joined the military?
posted by antifuse at 5:54 AM on February 7, 2006


Quick, run suck for your life!
posted by Goofyy at 5:55 AM on February 7, 2006


Why they don't want gay soldiers:

Announcer: And now a precision display of bad temper.
Soldiers: My goodness me! I am in a bad temper today, two three! Damn damn, two three! I am vexed and ratty, two three! And hopping mad!
Announcer: And now, the men of the Second Armored Division with their famous close order swanning about.
Sergeant: Squad... Camp it up!
Soldiers: Ooh get her! Whoops, I've got your number ducky, you couldn't afford me dear, two three. I'll scratch your eyes out! Don't come the Brigadier bit with us dear, we all know where you've been, you military fairy. Two, three, one, two, three, four, five, six. Whoops! Don't look now girls, the man has just minced in with that jolly colour Sergeant, two three. OOOOH!


Courtesy M. Python.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:58 AM on February 7, 2006


You are aware, Peter McDermott, that there are women in the Army

And do they share sleeping quarters now? That sounds like a lot of fun...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:29 AM on February 7, 2006


And do they share sleeping quarters now?

With men, I mean.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:31 AM on February 7, 2006


So let's take a gay soldier and see what happens

* Pentagon wants you to fucking risk life or die for your country in war and then kick you in the ass because you are gay ; did I mention body armor and unarmored humvee suck even if you are not gay ?

* Corporation wants you to protect their profit from oil and then buy expensive gasoline to drive an gaz guzzling vehicle. Excuse us if we retire support for gay anything, our family customer is more valuable to us.

* Governments wants you to win a perpetual war on a virtual enemy that keeps changing because, you know, if they said it's a war to conquer middle east oil it would kind of sound like a crusade and man, these terrist mean serious business the mofos explode themselves.

* Church zealot say homos are bad evil , but they can kill enemy of faith, but then they are gay so when you come back just please stay fucking away from the community, mkay you fag ?

* Republicans .......are trying to figure out how to honor you in a zealot friendly way. Sorry, YOU are gay, we are not..but we like you to vote republican :D it's a MAN choice *twink* so many musclar MANMEAT *twink*

Guess being a gay soldier kind of sux in U.S. 2006
posted by elpapacito at 6:35 AM on February 7, 2006


With men, I mean.

Gay or straight?
posted by three blind mice at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2006


This sucks (no pun intended). He was obviously an excellent soldier, yet he gets kicked out for his sexual preference? Lame.
posted by mrbill at 7:17 AM on February 7, 2006


"Everybody says, 'Don't let them in.' lf they wanna fight, let them fight, 'cause l ain't fighting. l wouldn't give a fuck if l saw a Russian tank rolling down Flatbush Avenue. l ain't shooting nobody. So call me a faggot. When the war is over, l'll be the faggot with two legs, thank you." ~Chris Rock
posted by AllesKlar at 7:34 AM on February 7, 2006


Expect an explosion of gayness if the draft ever comes back. I wonder if at that point people will actualy need to prove that they're gay to get out of the army.

Of course, if that ever happens don't-as-don't-tell will go by the wayside.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on February 7, 2006


I wasn't aware the "don't tell" policy meant "Don't tell anybody."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:53 AM on February 7, 2006


I wonder if at that point people will actualy need to prove that they're gay to get out of the army.

Don't worry, you will certainly be noticed
posted by elpapacito at 7:55 AM on February 7, 2006


Not even the Army supports its troops.
posted by wakko at 8:35 AM on February 7, 2006


Clearly what we need to counterbalance this are more yellow ribbon magnets.
posted by wakko at 8:35 AM on February 7, 2006


*cough*

*hums*

Oh, I'm just a typical American boy
From a typical American town.
I believe in God and Senator Dodd
An' in keepin' old Castro down.
And when it came my time to serve
I knew better dead than red,
But when I got to my old draft board,
Buddy, this is what I said:

Sarge, I'm only eighteen,
I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse.
I got eyes like a bat,
My feet are flat,
My asthma's getting worse.
Yes, think of my career,
My sweetheart dear,
My poor old invalid aunt.
Besides, I ain't no fool,
I'm a-goin' to school,
And I'm a-workin' in a defense plant.

I got a dislocated disc
And a racked-up back.
I'm allergic to flowers and bugs.
And when the bombshell hits,
I get epileptic fits,
And I'm addicted to a thousand drugs.
I got the weakness woes,
I can't touch my toes,
I can hardly reach my knees,
And if the enemy came close to me
Why, I'd probably start to sneeze.

Yes, I'm only eighteen,
I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse.
I got eyes like a bat,
My feet are flat,
My asthma's getting worse.
Yes, think of my career,
My sweetheart dear,
My poor old invalid aunt.
Besides, I ain't no fool,
I'm a-goin' to school,
And I'm a-workin' in a defense plant.

I hate Chou En Lai,
And I hope he dies,
But one thing you gotta see:
That someone's gotta go over there
And that someone isn't me.
So I wish you well,
Sarge, give 'em Hell,
Kill me a thousand or so.
And if you ever get a war
Without blood and gore
I'll be the first to go.

Yes, I'm only eighteen,
I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse.
I got eyes like a bat,
My feet are flat,
My asthma's getting worse.
Yes, think of my career,
My sweetheart dear,
My poor old invalid aunt.
Besides, I ain't no fool,
I'm a-goin' to school,
And I'm a-workin' in a defense plant.

posted by jokeefe at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2006


But he did tell.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:13 AM on February 7, 2006


I’m for changing the law and the culture. But that statement:
“He says members of his unit have been unsupportive” - speaks volumes.

I knew a guy in the service who was openly fruitier than Carmen Miranda’s headgear, and when he got out he was in an article in a national magazine and said that no one realized he was gay.
I mean - what!? Everyone knew he was gay. Everyone’s brother knew. He never got harrassed as far as I saw. Not on the job. He could well have taken some crap elsewhere, but no one gave him any flak because he really didn’t bother anyone personality-wise. I didn’t know him that well. He said ‘hello’ to me I said ‘hello’ back. We talked about the weather or got coffee, and went off and did work or whatever. Had a lisp, walked like he was in heels, obviously gay, but a nice guy so no one shit on him.
If someone did I suspect the guys in his unit would stick up for him. I would have if I saw him taking any undeserved crap.

But in the national magazine it’s not that we were tolerant or accepting or we’re not philistines, no, it’s that we didn’t know. Uh huh.
This is anecdotal of course, but if you don’t have the support of the guys you serve with something more is going on.
That or they are a bunch of assholes, which could be too.

That said, I think the don’t ask policy is stupid anyway. You can’t ask a person to be honorable, yet force them to conceal something like that. Stupid.

I do believe it does affect morale, but that is because of the current culture, which can be changed. But hasn’t been because the guys at the top apparently believe it’s worth flushing money and time in training down the toilet rather than break with set tradition.
Some traditions are good. This one isn’t.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2006


Does it mean that the army doesn't want gay soldiers for the same reason that some mountaineers don't like taking women on their expeditions? ie, when the gay soldier starts having a sexual relationship with a member of the unit, all the others will get jealous and start fighting to show that they are the true alpha male and therefore they should be the one getting sexually serviced?

They don't want gay soldiers because (a) they abhor change more than anything else, (b) they think that sexual relationships in general between people in a unit cause problems, and (c) the higher ranks are pretty homophobic. But honestly, I think it's (a) more than anything else. I think (b) is a valid concern. Once they do change, I wouldn't be surprised if homosexuality becomes mandatory! "Make your buddy smile!"

As for who services who, I was a gay soldier, and I got plenty of servicing from "straight" guys. Situational homosexuality is a running joke in the Army, and when you have a bunch of horny 18-21 year-old guys, all kinds of wackiness happens. How do you know if someone's straight? He doesn't swallow!

This is anecdotal of course, but if you don’t have the support of the guys you serve with something more is going on. That or they are a bunch of assholes, which could be too.

I think there's a pretty wide range of acceptance within military units - some units are pretty live-and-let-live, others are very unpleasant. I think that a lot of this is driven from the battalion officers. The units I was in were pretty ok with this, but I was in before "don't ask, don't tell" - I think that made things worse in some respects.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2006


me & my monkey writes "Once they do change, I wouldn't be surprised if homosexuality becomes mandatory! "


Hey, a thread with Phil Ochs and an allusion to a Joe Haldeman novel!
posted by orthogonality at 5:37 PM on February 7, 2006


enough bs.

Either he did a good job or didn't. Either he served us well or not. It's not not because he's gay--it's only not if he was a Lyndie England and the like, which now is rewarded.

He was a fool to go back in the closet, and he was a fool to trust his superiors--They used him, and threw him away when it was convenient, and hopefully they'll pay for that one day.
posted by amberglow at 5:44 PM on February 7, 2006


amberglow writes "They used him, and threw him away when it was convenient, and hopefully they'll pay for that one day."


Yeah, but the only way they're going to "pay" is if the whole country "pays". Which it may well end up doing, especially in the case of the translators.
posted by orthogonality at 6:26 PM on February 7, 2006


He was a fool to go back in the closet, and he was a fool to trust his superiors--They used him, and threw him away when it was convenient, and hopefully they'll pay for that one day.

Well, they won't pay for anything. And you know who to thank for this "don't ask, don't tell" BS.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:10 PM on February 7, 2006


There are people here who have a negative affect on my morale and make me feel uncomfortable.

Can we make them go away? Please?
posted by srboisvert at 5:02 AM on February 8, 2006


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