diversity, and Equality
Our American Armed Forces
By Denny Meyer
Sometimes I wonder if opponents
of gay rights are somehow anti-American.
Isn't this nation of immigrants all about
equality? Many Americans would agree that
our military's mission is to defend freedom
around the world. When our armed forces show up,
their unique diversity is in-and-of itself a light
unto the world. Nowhere else on earth will
you find an armed force so fully integrated.
Just seeing the faces of our troops, speaks of
freedom to people everywhere who are fleeing
oppression simply because of who they are.
Afghan guide, coming to his first meeting with
American soldiers whom he has been hired to
guide to local villages where their mission is
to meet with elders and provide aid and
education in democracy. As he enters the room,
four American soldiers are examining a map of
the local terrain. The first thing he
notices is that one of the sergeants looks
Russian; the Russians killed his grandparents,
he hates Russians. But this American
sergeant is merely of Lithuanian decent; his
name tag says, "Epstein," he's Jewish American
from New York City.
notices the senior officer in the room, an
Asian American Major whose name tag says "Chin."
For a moment, he wonders whether he's Chinese Communist; but of
course he can't be, he's an American Army
officer. He doesn't trust Communists,
Russian or otherwise. He later learns that Major
Chin is from Los Angeles, the son of a
Baptist Minister; he's a Christian.
sees the Lieutenant standing next to the major; he
clearly looks middle eastern, and his name tag
says, "Abdullah." My God! Well, this Abdullah
hasn't got a beard, so he can't be Taliban.
The Taliban killed his parents; he hates
Taliban. Lt. Abdullah is from Detroit and
is a Muslim, but he does not speak Arabic; he's
not the interpreter of the group.
sergeant, named Jones, is the Arabic
interpreter, he's stocky and black and a member
of an AME church in Chicago. The Afghan
guide had heard that many of the Arab linguists
in the American armed forces are gay. He
wonders if this Sgt. Jones is gay, he certainly
doesn't look like he is. In fact, Sgt
Jones is not gay, he has a wife and two
daughters back in Chicago, just like the
American president. Unbeknownst to
everyone in the room, except Lt. Abdullah, it is
the Major who happens to be gay. Lt. Abdullah doesn't give a flying duck about that;
as tactical officer, he has more important
things to worry about.
guide was speechless at seeing this group of
American soldiers. They weren't glaring
at one another nor arguing. In fact they
seemed to be working comfortably and calmly
together as if they were on the same team.
Clearly, they seemed to be totally oblivious to
their differences of ethnicity, religion, and race. The guide's head began to
eventually asked them, politely, whether they
had been specifically selected to work together
on this mission, because they were so different
from each other. "What do you mean?
We're not different, we're all members of the
3897th Civil Affairs Brigade." The
told him. And thus transpired the first
lesson in American democracy and equality for
purpose of this example, I've made up every
detail about the above fictional unit; the names
chosen are intentionally common American
could be any ordinary US Army unit, of
course. Any Army Humvee rolling through
Iraq could have the same diverse American
composition. It is astounding to people in
countries in crisis, where clans and ethnic
groups distrust one another deeply. In
places like Kosovo and Northern Iraq, it is
nearly impossible for people to imagine getting
along and living side by side in peace.
When our American troops arrive, clearly
oblivious to their own diversity, their very
presence is the first lesson about equality and
democracy, without a word being said. Our
troops are a light unto the world.
not end there of course. Our troops are,
in fact, a light unto one another. After
all, our American people have not always gotten
along that well with one another. We have
had plenty of discrimination and distrust among
ourselves. Even today, many members of the
minorities in the example above really never
worked together until they volunteered to join
our armed forces. Even today, there are
Americans who feel very strongly that gay
Americans should not be allowed to serve in our
military. Interestingly, our own young
troops, serving together in diversity don't have
any problem at all serving alongside those who
are gay or black or white or Asian or Hispanic
or Jewish or Baptist or from Alabama or Oregon.
It is the act of patriotically volunteering and
training together that makes them one, that
makes them professional service members,
that makes them Americans on the same team
oblivious to their diversity. What sort of
American could object to that?
*In the original version of this article, the
'major' was written in as a female officer in
order to portray the total diversity of our
armed forces. But, the merciless GMT
fact-checkers shot that down because, currently,
female officers are still not permitted in
infantry units to which such a Civil Affairs
unit would be typically attached.
2009 Gay Military Signal