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"Let's be honest, there have been aspersions cast on the navy for years"
October 30, 2010 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Out and Proud - Gay and lesbian personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force talk about their lives. In his 30-year career with the army, Wood has attended conferences with officers from American services. The notable difference is that Wood can stand alongside his partner of seven years, Gerald Johnstone, and introduce him as such.
posted by rodgerd (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd say there is at least one other notable difference: Wood serves New Zealand. They don't fight.
That said I'm down with anyone of any sexual orientation that is willing to kill and die for me. Ooh-rah.
posted by vapidave at 12:54 AM on October 30, 2010


Awesome article. I love this quote from a member of the New Zealand Air Force:

"The biggest fear is people worrying what other people will think. Well, who gives a s..., really? It's a significant decision, but once you get over that, you won't have to live a lie for the next however many years."

posted by mdonley at 12:54 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


They don't fight.

Not until you piss us off, no.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:05 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


They don't fight.

It almost sounds as if you think that this is a bad thing.
posted by WalkingAround at 1:24 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


vapidave: New Zealand's forces have taken part in military operations in Timor, the Former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, so I wouldn't exactly say they "don't fight".
posted by Major Clanger at 1:53 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Major, spleen, I read vapidave's comment as more a view on the contrast between the "warfighter" language surrounding the US armed services currently, as opposed to the language of "service of one's country" Wood uses.
posted by rodgerd at 1:55 AM on October 30, 2010


A year ago there was controversy about gays in the military in the Netherlands as well.

Were they allowed to take part in uniform in the gay pride parade on the canals of Amsterdam or no?
The minister of defence thought it did not befit the dignity of the army. Another minister encouraged gays to take part in uniform all the same.
This year they are allowed to take part in uniform but have to "behave properly".
posted by joost de vries at 2:07 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Agh, I should have commented a little quieter; mefi is asleep.
posted by joost de vries at 2:19 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is such a non-issue for many militaries. Our Army Chaplain is living openly in a civil partnership with his same-sex partner, and only a few olds-and-holds raised an eyebrow, as the padre is responsible for the 'moral training' of recruits. For most people, it was a non-issue. In Australia, I knew a few openly homosexual people in the Defence Forces and it was not a big deal - women serving in combat roles raises more vehement discussion.
posted by Megami at 2:20 AM on October 30, 2010


Women now serve in combat roles because of the changing nature of those we fight against. I have long been a believer that in most issues it makes sense to see how other nations do that which I question, esp.those countries in the western world. Gays are accepted in any number of armies elsewhere and there are no problems; women in some countries are beginning to fly planes etc and certainly serve on warships. From recent studies it seems our own military has no problem with allowing gays to serve, and thus it is the President and our Congress the usual leaders in non-change, who prevent the switch away from the present policy.
posted by Postroad at 4:36 AM on October 30, 2010


Well, someday we'll have this also. The current projection is once the baby boomers die off, we're good.
That, or we'll need some serious external force that requires everyone to gear up and then nobody will care, because we have bigger worries.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:29 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


difference: Wood serves New Zealand. They don't fight.

Well, not until the yanks start another war.

That is what you meant, right? Or are you just another ill-informed yank militarist?
posted by pompomtom at 6:25 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe cause it's 3am and I'm a bit drunk but I can't find any typos or ridiculous grammatical errors in this article. That's the first time that has ever happened in a stuff article for me.
posted by doublehappy at 6:51 AM on October 30, 2010


For some reason it bothers me unreasonably when people use the word gay as a noun, plural or no. That might just be me, though...
posted by Dysk at 6:55 AM on October 30, 2010


I'm less annoyed by the use of gay as a noun than I am at the idea that suggestions of homosexual participation in a branch of the armed forces is "casting aspersions".
posted by hippybear at 7:26 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd say there is at least one other notable difference: Wood serves New Zealand. They don't fight.

UK military does, right alongside US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. And UK troops are allowed to go on Gay Pride marches and can have married accommodation with their partner if they're in a Civil Partnership. To just take one example from the IoS Pink List for this year, "James Wharton; Trooper, Household Cavalry:The Iraq veteran was on the cover of Soldier magazine last year in a bid to combat the taboo against gay people that remains in many parts of the armed forces. But things are changing – for when Trooper Wharton got married in March, the reception was held at the Household Cavalry's Knightsbridge barracks in London."

It's the ten years since the rules changed, and the British Armed Forces have been in fairly constant combat since then. I've not heard any suggestion that there have been any problems. Well, not with this - things like not enough body armour to go around and having aircraft carriers without aircraft, yes, but unless there is some sort of Gay Mafia Aircraft Carrier Conspiracy I doubt this is related.

I think I've said this on previous threads where this has come up, but combined ops with forces with openly gay members make all the US knicker-wetting about not being able to fight after contact with a gay person just frankly pathetic.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:50 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'd say there is at least one other notable difference: Wood serves New Zealand. They don't fight.

Yeah. Thats why we don't have human rights issues about people not being able to serve their country based on their sexual orientation.

http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/operations/deployments/afghanistan/default.htm

Kiwis do fight...its just that they don't "accidentally" end up killing a whole town of children, so you get the impression that they must not engage in war.


NZ represent!
posted by hal_c_on at 1:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


they don't "accidentally" end up killing a whole town of children
Did... did Lampwick survive?
posted by Paragon at 2:06 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's really just an American politics/culture thing at this point. Even other very militaristic countries like Israel allow openly gay soldiers (and this is an interesting point to me --- many Americans feel that openly gay soldiers would weaken the military, yet simultaneously many of these people have deep admiration for the Israeli military [like many of the military-bound Southern Baptists I grew up with]).
posted by wildcrdj at 2:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


On way or another, DADT has to go, but people's attitude has to change as well. Even here in Canada, moving from a place like Toronto to Calgary has been shocking - the number of people I've met here who are outwardly homophobic is plain scary. It's like I've moved back in time 40 years.

It's not enough that LGBT can serve in the military openly. It's a start, sure, but it won't end discrimination. Australia is a country where a woman who openly admits to being an atheist becomes the prime minister, and America is a country where you can't even become a candidate if you don't invoke god in every other sentence. It's a really simplistic view, but it gives you a good idea of the people doing the voting.

To turn the argument around, DADT could be acting as protection for LGBT right now in the US. Think about the high incidence of rape and sexual harassment in the US military. If women who are serving alongside men cannot be treated with respect, how can we expect better treatment for LGBT openly serving in the military? It's not just laws that has to change. Deep-rooted dogma/prejudices has to go too.
posted by Sallysings at 2:59 PM on October 30, 2010


DADT could be acting as protection for LGBT right now in the US

This happened to someone I know: He was a United States sailor, and was badly assaulted at a gay bar. Pressing charges was out of the question, because that would lead to a discharge.

I'm not going to touch the broader context in which gay people are second class citizens in this country. But I'd like to know how this kind of thing counts as protection, please?
posted by 7-7 at 3:21 PM on October 30, 2010


To turn the argument around, DADT could be acting as protection for LGBT right now in the US. Think about the high incidence of rape and sexual harassment in the US military. If women who are serving alongside men cannot be treated with respect, how can we expect better treatment for LGBT openly serving in the military? It's not just laws that has to change. Deep-rooted dogma/prejudices has to go too.

Are you suggesting that, if GLBT US soldiers were able to serve openly, they would be subject to a high incidence of rape? Or that they would be subject to assault from those serving in their units?

I'm not really sure what this could possibly mean. Either you have a clear picture in your mind about how this would play out and haven't communicated clearly, or you're flat-out wrong with your assertion that DADT is protecting GLBT troops from anything.

I suspect the latter is true, rather than the former.
posted by hippybear at 3:28 PM on October 30, 2010


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