A Ring and a Promise Given
May 28, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

A Love Letter to a G.I. "This is in memory of an anniversary – the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known." The most romantic argument against Don't Ask, Don't Tell yet.
posted by roger ackroyd (44 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
And here are some vile and disgusting arguments being made this week for not repealing DADT: GOP Launches Campaign Against Gays on House Floor.
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on May 28, 2010


Absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful letter. Thank you for posting it.
posted by blucevalo at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nathaniel Frank, retiring Senior Research Fellow at the Palm Center has launched a comprehensive Unfriendly Fire Research Portal, which compiles research and statistics regarding gays in the military derived from his work and that of others.

Frank writes:
"...today I am announcing that I have completed the Pentagon Working Group's work for them, five months early, and have posted it all here on this new Research Portal. Since the 1950s, research has shown there's no need to ban open gays from the military, and it's not just research by gay advocates, but by government scholars, foreign militaries, independent academics, and indeed our own military, which has acknowledged the gay ban is 'inherently subjective in nature' and is the result of 'professional military judgment, not scientific or sociological analysis.' The point was reinforced last year when an article written by an Active Duty Air Force officer in Joint Force Quarterly, the prestigious military journal published for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, concluded 'there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.'

We also know that the vaunted polling of the military force is likely to tell us what several such polls have already told us: that a slight majority of military members would rather not serve with open gays, but that most are personally comfortable with gay people. Mountains of research also shows that such opinions do not mean there would be a mass exodus of soldiers if the ban were lifted, or that ending 'don't ask, don't tell' would impair cohesion just because many enlisted people would rather keep it in place. The relevant question is not what do service members want (as Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, told me in February, 'it is not our practice to go within our military and poll our force to determine if they like the laws of the land or not.'); rather, the question is whether troops are capable of serving with gays, and research shows that they are."
posted by ericb at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was gorgeous, it brought tears to my eyes.
posted by aclevername at 10:57 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was a beautiful letter. I'd love to learn more about Brian and Dave. Thank you for posting.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:58 AM on May 28, 2010


What a beautiful letter. There is a musical coming to Broadway next season, called Yank!, that could have been based on this letter.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:01 AM on May 28, 2010


That was indeed a beautiful letter, and I'm glad they found each other, but I really hope that the proponents of the repeal don't start using this kind of story as an argument for the repeal. It's a can of worms that provides ammo for the opponents who will argue that the military will become a huge ol' gay-boy meat market if gays are allowed to serve.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:05 AM on May 28, 2010


As noted in the linked article, this letter is from the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on May 28, 2010


There is a musical coming to Broadway next season, called Yank!, that could have been based on this letter.

Thanks for mentioning this show. I hadn't heard of it. Here's the official website for 'Yank! A WWII Love Story'.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yank! has been getting good reviews, and man that first paragraph - I call movie rights.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a can of worms that provides ammo for the opponents

It's from a completely different time, place, and mindstate, and it's way, way too poetic, hazy, delicate, and ambivalent for the GOP to use as anything like anti-DADT fodder.

The GOP operatives would mostly be scratching their heads and thinking, "What were those two soaked soldiers doing under that solitary tree on the North African plain? What 'score' did those two lieutenants know?"
posted by blucevalo at 11:45 AM on May 28, 2010


It's the Friday before Memorial Day long weekend, and here I am sitting at my desk, crying. Thanks so much for sharing this, that letter was beautiful.
posted by xedrik at 11:52 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's way, way too poetic, hazy, delicate, and ambivalent for the GOP to use as anything like anti-DADT fodder

Seriously? I can totally see them taking this letter out of context and using it to frame the letter-sharing campaign as "Gays want the military to be one more place for them to find their mates."

Maybe I'm just too cynical. (More like shell-shocked, actually.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:56 AM on May 28, 2010


This letter completely made my day.
posted by selenized at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wow. just beautiful.

"Memories of a GI show troop – curtains made from barrage balloons – spotlights made from cocoa cans – rehearsals that ran late into the evenings – and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice."

brilliant.
posted by marienbad at 12:19 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can totally see them taking this letter out of context

What's there to take out of context? Two men swooning over each other in a desert in 1943 with the equivalent of "Don't Sit under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me)" playing in the background?

It's a real tale, but not all that divergent from what happened to thousands of GIs and WACs in WWII, with the exception that one of these men dared to put his feelings to paper.
posted by blucevalo at 1:14 PM on May 28, 2010


Seriously? I can totally see them taking this letter out of context and using it to frame the letter-sharing campaign as "Gays want the military to be one more place for them to find their mates."

So what if they do? My maternal Grandfather (Canadian Infantry) and Grandmother (American Red Cross) found each other through the military. This letter was touching and poetic. Kind of like a lost episode of Band of Brothers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:35 PM on May 28, 2010


Seriously? I can totally see them taking this letter out of context and using it to frame the letter-sharing campaign as "Gays want the military to be one more place for them to find their mates."

I think the letter itself presents a strong argument for why a warzone is not necessarily the most awesome place to begin a romance, though, yeah?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2010


My republican house representative voted for keeping DADT. He was a moderate on the state senate, and I liked him, but now he just lost my vote for good. I could kind of understand going against healthcare, but not this. This is acting like a codgey old man to keep outdated policy around.

I want someone borderline rational and empathetic to represent me.

And I've heard the "gays will use the military to seek out mates and convert impressionable, confused youths," which is ridiculous as A) Straights could do that, too, if people were really that old school bananas, and B) There's already a site called ManHunt that seems great at finding gay mates.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:04 PM on May 28, 2010


Thanks very much for the link—what a moving letter!

> It's a can of worms that provides ammo for the opponents

Once you start censoring yourself out of fear of what the opponents might say, you've lost.
posted by languagehat at 2:33 PM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


That very nearly made me cry. What a beautiful letter!

I think it's terrible that gay rights get so little support in the US... Is it simply that straight people don't speak up? Is it the "Not my problem" filter working? Or are there simply that many ignorant, hateful people in your country? Surely, there can't be.

I'm sitting in a country where gays are allowed to marry, adopt and serve in the military as much as they want. We have openly gay right-wing politicians. While the battle is nowhere near won, since gays are the one group it's still okay to mock, we're at least a step closer to equality. I just wish that the rest of the world could be at this stage, too, and I feel deeply for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people all over the world who are forced to hide who they truly are. It's just too sad.
posted by MaiaMadness at 2:58 PM on May 28, 2010


I think it's terrible that gay rights get so little support in the US... Is it simply that straight people don't speak up? Is it the "Not my problem" filter working? Or are there simply that many ignorant, hateful people in your country? Surely, there can't be.

Tell us when you're off your anti-US soapbox so we can get back to the thread subject.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:09 PM on May 28, 2010


> I think it's terrible that gay rights get so little support in the US

Gay rights get quite a bit of support in the U.S. You're confusing the population at large, who have made huge strides in the past few decades and now largely support gay rights (though the word "marriage" still makes a lot of people queasy), with the corrupt, cowardly politicians, who are busily engaged in sucking up to the most retrograde elements of society because those are the people they're most afraid of. They don't give a damn about ordinary people, and won't until people start voting them out en masse.
posted by languagehat at 3:09 PM on May 28, 2010


Tell us when you're off your anti-US soapbox so we can get back to the thread subject.

Tell me when you're done willfully misunderstanding, and I'll get back to you.

Honestly, I was just asking a question. My sincere apologies if it sounded like anything else.
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:20 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gay rights get quite a bit of support in the U.S. You're confusing the population at large, who have made huge strides in the past few decades and now largely support gay rights (though the word "marriage" still makes a lot of people queasy), with the corrupt, cowardly politicians, who are busily engaged in sucking up to the most retrograde elements of society because those are the people they're most afraid of. They don't give a damn about ordinary people, and won't until people start voting them out en masse.

I guess I'm just still confused as to how they managed to pass proposition 8 in California...

As far as the population at large is concerned, I sometimes don't know what to think. I used to post on Topix, where I was involved in quite a few gay rights discussions, and while I encountered loads of tolerant, accepting, pro-gay rights, lovely people (many of whom became my friends), there was an equally large portion of, well, nutters, to be quite frank. Reading all these people's hateful comments, one couldn't help but wonder, you know? It's hard to get a complete and accurate picture of a country when ones only source of reference is the Internet and the media.
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:26 PM on May 28, 2010


Tell us when you're off your anti-US soapbox so we can get back to the thread subject.

That's a pretty douchey response to an honest sentiment. Our country is doing better, but we're still not there yet when it comes to gay people having the same rights as everybody else. That is the thread subject.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:26 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


For Dave:

.
posted by DataPacRat at 3:29 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a musical coming to Broadway next season, called Yank!, that could have been based on this letter.

I am so seeing that if they ever come touring in my part of the world... I'll be in England all of next year, do you think it at all likely that they'll bring it to the West End by then?
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:34 PM on May 28, 2010


Quite touching. Thanks.
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:01 PM on May 28, 2010


> I guess I'm just still confused as to how they managed to pass proposition 8 in California...

So am I, frankly, but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the power of money, advertising, and lies than the sentiments of the population. And remember that (like humanity in general) it's a work in progress; different people progress at different paces (with occasional backsliding), and even though the overall story is one of progress, as with getting past racism and sexism the details are messy.
posted by languagehat at 5:24 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or are there simply that many ignorant, hateful people in your country? Surely, there can't be.

MaiaMadness, there was surely a time in Norwegian history when homosexuality was viewed in the same way that a significant number of people in the US view it today. And I'm willing to bet that that time was not as long ago as you may believe, given the fact that the majority religion in Norway is Lutheranism. That time may even be right now in parts of Norway.

So rock on Norway and all that, I love Scandinavia to death, but take a step back and look at the context a little before asking whether there are "that many ignorant, hateful people" in a country. There are hateful, ignorant people everywhere.
posted by blucevalo at 5:31 PM on May 28, 2010


Like I said to another poster, blucevalo, I meant no offense, it was really just an honest question.

As for Norway, we've had domestic partnerships since the 1993. About 80% of our population may be members of the state church, but only 20% of the population say that religion is important to them, and only about 5% attend church weekly. Norway is a very secular country, and has been for a rather long time.
posted by MaiaMadness at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2010


I guess I'm just still confused as to how they managed to pass proposition 8 in California...

So am I, frankly, but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the power of money, advertising, and lies than the sentiments of the population.


Exactly.
"This measure [Prop. 8] was losing resoundingly just before the election.

Yet for the past decade, the Mormon Church has been planning to outlaw marriage equality. The church hoped to conceal its efforts in a broad-based coalition.

For the past six months, Mormon volunteers, directed by the Church, misled Californians about the effects of the Supreme Court ruling by tapping into a war chest of Mormon cash and contributing up to 70% of Prop 8 financing, in spite of being a mere 4% of the voting population."*
New York Times | November 14, 2008: Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage
"...the extraordinary role Mormons played in helping to pass [Prop 8] with money, institutional support and dedicated volunteers"
posted by ericb at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2010


I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the power of money, advertising, and lies...

National Organization of Marriage (NOM) and ProtectMarriage.com television advertisements (full of lies):
The Gathering Storm.

Yes on 8 TV Ad: It's Already Happened.

Yes on 8 TV Ad: Everything To Do With Schools.

Yes on 8 TV Ad: Truth.

Yes on 8 TV Ad: Have You Thought About It?

Yes on 8 TV Ad: Where Do Babies Come From?

YES on Proposition 8 California.
Exposing the lies:
Yes on 8 Ad Deceptive, Opponents Say.

More Prop 8 Lies Examined.

Proponents of Prop 8 Are Using Lies to Scare You.

Prop 8: Five Little Lies.
posted by ericb at 6:53 PM on May 28, 2010


MaiaMadness, I'm aware that Norway is a predominantly secular country. What I said is that it was not too long ago that Norway was not a secular country. It's surely the case that there are Norwegians alive who have memories of a time when homosexuality was against the law. Norway did not decriminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults until 1972.
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 PM on May 28, 2010


I guess I'm just still confused as to how they managed to pass proposition 8 in California...

Have a word with the rich bigoted motherfuckers from Utah.

Thank God the rest of the world is somewhat more enlightened. In Canada, not only is being out in the military fine, but the Canadian forces have made it very easy for personnel to request postings near/with their loved ones, whether gay or straight. And were doing so long before equal marriage was legal here.

But, y'know, Americans are different.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:06 AM on May 29, 2010


That was a heartbreaking letter.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan the US military has no problems taking command of UK forces which are fine with open gays in the military. If nothing else, its combined ops like these that make a total joke of DADT - openly gay people in your own forces will destroy morale and fighting capability; but the openly gay British soldier next to you? No problems at all!
posted by Coobeastie at 3:00 AM on May 29, 2010


I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the power of money, advertising, and lies

This is why I'm so happy that political advertising on TV is illegal in my country... You want media time? You let people interview you, or you go on debate programmes. Other than that, you stick to billboards and the occasional ad in cinemas. Televised ads are a big no-no.
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:09 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Norway did not decriminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults until 1972.

This is true, but not all that relevant... I mean, we are talking about right now, aren't we?
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:12 AM on May 29, 2010


Norway did not decriminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults until 1972.

This is true, but not all that relevant... I mean, we are talking about right now, aren't we?


Well, yes and no. You brought up that the US hasn't fought hard enough for GLBT equality and that your own home country has done better. It is relevant in that context to point out that yeah, we've got a long way to go, but no one's perfect.

Making this about "man, the US sux, amirite?" isn't going to engender a productive conversation about American military policy and the repeal on DADT. It's just going to make American MeFites feel defensive and non-Americans feel smug.

But, y'know, Americans are different.

Like that. There. With the smugness.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:53 AM on May 30, 2010


Smugness at being slightly more enlightened is pretty much the only reasonable reaction to constantly-trumpeted American exceptionalism.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2010


Smugness at being slightly more enlightened is pretty much the only reasonable reaction to constantly-trumpeted American exceptionalism.

Are those claims being made here? This is about an US political issue, sure, but are there actual comparisons being made with Rest of World policies and claims made that we're somehow "different?" The way I was reading it was that this was a piece on how American policies are moving forward not "We Can't Actually Have Nice Things Because We're DIFFERENT." If I'm wrong, I do see your point - Americans saying "Well, yeah, but, that doesn't apply to US" does suck. It sucks when anyone does that.

But there's no need to be smug at being one rung up on the ladder when no one's actually saying that.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:04 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that the atrocity of DADT still exists in your country, that gays and lesbians cannot get married in vast swathes of your country, and that many of your fellow Americans simply ignore the reality of the rest of the world--up to and including all levels of your armed forces serving with openly LGBTTQQ soldiers and seeing absolutely no problems arising therefrom--is that claim, that somehow your country is different and the steps the rest of the world has taken into the future somehow don't apply. Sorry if we behave like the educated cousin and treat you guys, if somewhat fondly, as the rather backwards and regressive side of the family, but that's the way it is. Yes, many individual Americans, yourself included, don't fit that mold. But your country as a whole? Yeah, we're going to be smug, and we are going to look down on you until you get your shit together.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:57 PM on May 31, 2010


But your country as a whole? Yeah, we're going to be smug, and we are going to look down on you until you get your shit together.

Fair enough. That's your prerogative as it's mine to think that this is a bit of a dick move. Looking down on us isn't helping anything except making us feel defensive. Defensive people don't get shit done, they just entrench themselves further.

I'm not asking that you clap your hands and sing everytime we make a baby step towards progress. Maybe just roll your eyes a little quieter. Like you say, I don't fit the mold of the backwards hillbilly cousin, but damn do I ever feel that way when I read stuff telling me that that's how my country is. And you know what the hillbilly cousins do at that point? No, they don't go off to college to dress up like the better respected branch of the college. They fling cow pies.

Let's not go there.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2010


« Older Magma perform a tribute to Otis Redding, 28/7/81 N...  |  In 2008, The Nation Institute ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments