Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Admiration and Respect

I love this guy. Not in a creepy stalker way, but in an admiring way. I wish I had his courage.

Meet Army 1st Lieutenant Dan Choi. I'm sure you have all heard his story. West Point graduate, Iraq war combat veteran, fluent in Arabic, and oh yea, he's queer. He is being kicked out of the Army. I don't know what the taxpayers paid to give this guy the education he has, but that investment is going down the drain. All because he was born gay.

One of the things I hear him say in an interview is that telling the truth is the most important thing. There is a conflict between the Don't Ask Don't Tell law and the Honor Code in the Army concerning telling the truth. There is no way for him to be on compliance on both policies. Gay men and women who just want to serve, have to lie about who they are. They have to sit quietly while their buddies develop "normal" relationships, start families. They are banned from living their lives.

Dan Choi said no more. He could no longer hide who he was from his friends at work. He could no longer deny himself a relationship of a man he fell in love with. He could no longer lie. He could no longer pretend to be something he is not. A gay American.

I admire his courage. His father is a baptist minister so I doubt he is receiving a lot of support from home (though I don't really know.) He is losing his job and a career he trained for and by all account loved and was good at. The US Army is losing a man who was an effective leader and an Arab language specialist. Certainly something we need right now. He did not commit a crime. He did not go AWOL. He did nothing other than tell the truth about who he is. That's it.

Why does that have to be so fucking hard?

I mean really. If things were not so fucked up, I would not be in the position I am in right now. I would not be breaking the heart of my best friend. When I realized I was different all those years ago, it would have been OK for be to think of myself as gay. It would have been OK.

I admire Dan Choi and all the other gay men and women who took a stand and said, "I will not lie about who I am. I will not hide in the closet. This is who I am." They did not have to wave a banner, march in parades, or appear on the TV to get my admiration. They just came out to themselves and did not live a lie.

For those of you who, like me, did lie to themselves, but have since come out to the world, I admire you too. As I am learning, it take a good deal more courage to come out late in life. When you are young your deception may be just to yourself, or to a small group of family and friends. When you are 40, or 50 , or older, you have a life time of people you have convinced that you are normal. You have emotional investments in a lot more people and from a lot more corners. In the eyes of others, young people come out as gay. Older people become gay, or they decide they are gay. It is perceived as a change so coming out means you have to admit that you have been lying to them for a much longer time. In some cases, a life time.

Thanks to Dan Choi and others like him. And my other blogger friends who are showing me there is life after coming out. It is an inspiration to me.

1 comment:

manxxman said...

Jim.....you are normal as apple pie.