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Gays in the military


By now, you've heard all the arguments, so you're either in favor of Don't Ask Don't Tell, or you aren't. It isn't really Don't Ask Don't Tell, anyway, because the military diligently investigates all rumors of homosexuality in order to extirpate the so-called mental illness from the ranks. So even if gays don't come out, they must live in constant fear of being discovered.

As for the morale issue, I saw an interview once of an Army veteran from the Deep South who had gone to Vietnam as a young soldier in possession of all the usual cultural prejudices that one would expect. He came back a changed man. "There's something about being in a unit, knowing that all your lives depend on everyone doing his job," he said. "You put your life in your buddy's hands, and he puts his life in yours. You don't care about what color he is."

And as far as whether gays can make good warriors, there's a story about Alexander the Great, who, as legend goes, was gay. His troops were horrified to learn about his lover, who accompanied him on his campaigns as he conquered most of the known world.

What upset them wasn't that Alexander's main squeeze was a man; it was that he was a Persian.

So the problem isn't really gays serving in the military. The problem is with people who have a problem with gays serving in the military.

Categories: Culture Wars (199)
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Not as subtle as you usually go for, but I appreciate the point.

Who gives a rat's butt if a soldier is gay? It's such a stupid issue...20-30 years from now, we'll be looking back on this whole issue like we did with segregation, interracial marriage, etc.

Wonderful stuff, Mr. Lowe - thanks :) Reminds me of the inscription on the grave on Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, a decorated war hero who was discharged from the military for being gay. "They gave me a medal for killing a man, but dishonorably discharged me for loving another.'

Kudos on an excellent article and a superb cartoon. I saw it and chills ran up and down my body.

If people don't get the point from this article, it goes to solidify their ignorance.

If you read the arguments made to keep from integrating the military with black during Pres. Truman's term, or the ones to keep women out of the military - they are exactly the same. All you have to do is substitute the word "gay" and they use the same illogical statements.

You are foolish enough to think there are no GLBT people already in and the pleople that insist on "No Gays In The Military are only making them lie.
I would much rather have a truthful Gay Soldier, then a lying "Heterosexual" Soldier

Excellent article! My bf is active duty military and we have suffered the reality of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. We live in a constant lie and fear. I can not benefit from any of the economical, medical and psychological support that is provided to military spouses. Every day is an emotinal struggle for him full of lies, fear and pressure to portray himself as someone he is not. We feel like second class citizens, despite his 10+ years of service to this country. It's a daily struggle, but he loves this country too much to abandon the service and I will never quit my personal fight for equal rights.

I am active duty military. I do not think it has ever been a question of whether or not gay individuals are equally capable as straight individuals. Its a matter of sharing quarters where emn shower, change, and sleep. Would women think it was acceptable if they had to shower and share latrines and tents with men in deployed locations? I imagine they would be quite upset about it. The same can be said about gay and straight men sharing quarters. I had a gay guy in my unit in basic training. No one was happy about sharing the open showers with him, but there was nothing we could do. He lied about his sexuality to get in the military but admitted it to his peers once he got in.

"Its a matter of sharing quarters where emn (sic) shower, change, and sleep."

It's a shame some soldiers are such cowards they are afraid of being looked at by some queen.

To Juanita del Talams: Unfortunately male on male sexual assault happens every year in the military and more often then you'd think. It begins with, as you put it" being looked at by a queen". All military members are required to sit through a sexual assault awareness briefing every year. The military pays full time Sexual Assault Response Coordinators with YOUR tax dollars because it is such a prevalent problem. Furthermore, it is attitudes such as yours that perpetuate sexually inappropriate behavior. It is no different if it is between a male and female or between to males. As a woman would you be totally comfortable showering and dressing with men who were simply coworkers?

Thanks to Chan Lowe for "Which is the gay one? Great representation of of a wonderful idea that kinda says it all!

Hey all you tough soldiers that don't want to shower next to a gay guy--please explain how you have the courage (or whatever it is) to risk your lives in battle and are affraid that some gay guy might be checking you out in the shower. Here's a little secret....You have been showering with gay people for years and have never even known it.

I'm a gay man and love to play sports. I have been showering with my straight friends and gay friends for years after playing tennis or b-ball etc. Once in a while I even find myself attracted to one of or straight. But hopefully I know how to control myself and where and when it is appropriate or inappropriate to come on to somebody. Hopefully so do my straight friends!

Steve, it is not a matter of courage or fear. (To answer you first question: shower before or after them.)

You can spin it any way you want but the bottom line is that if gay men are legally allowed in the military they should be separated from straight men in the same manner and for the same reasons that men and women are separated. If I follow your line of reasoning then I could say, "Why would women be worried about guys checking them out in the shower? They know how to control themselves and know where and when it is appropriate and inappropriate to come on to somebody." I believe most people do, but it is the small percentage that don't that concerns me. Like I said in my earlier post, from what I'm told in our annual briefings, male/male sexual assault happens every year in the military.

Women are raped by men every
year in the military. Does this mean that we should keep
men out of the military?
Of course not. Gay men are
no more likely to rape another
man than a heterosexual man is
likely to rape a woman. In fact,gay men are statistically less likely to rape. A rapist is a rapist. A heterosexual is a heterosexual. A homosexual is a homosexual. I think you're a bit confused on the topic.

John C. Tryon: You are correct women are raped by men every year in the military. Don't you think it would happen much more often if men and women showered together? I think gay rape would happen much less often if gay men and straight men were separated the same way men and women are separated.

I am not confused on the topic. If you read my first post you will see that I disagreed with the point Lowe was trying to make with his cartoon. He was trying to say that gay men die for their country just the same as straight men and therefore the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy should be reversed. My first post stated that whether or not homosexual people are equally as capable as straight people is not the issue at hand. I have never heard any military member or anyone in the media ever say anything disputing that. It is a matter of forcing straight and homosexuals to share close living quarters.

As I stated earlier any defense of keeping separate showers and bathrooms for women and men can also be made for having separate showers and bathrooms for hetero and homosexuals.

To make my point concisely: If openly gay men and straight men are forced to share quarters, then why not force men and women do the same?

My point is that rapists are rapists. The focus on
keeping RAPISTS (whether
heterosexual or homosexual)
out of the military is what
needs to be addressed.
This is not an argument about
sexual preference.

Great cartoon to stir some thinking, except there is a difference in the gay coffin -- her/his survivors will NOT be given equal survivor benefits that heterosexual soldiers' families currently get.

As for the rape debate, rape is not a sexual act, it is an act of aggression and power. So yes, I think there is indeed some confusion on the matter. Heterosexual men can indeed rape other men, without being homosexual. They're just nasty people. And in the military's current recruiting, felons are acceptable recruits, while homosexuals still aren't. There's going to be a lot of cleaning up to do in the military if the bigots ever lose control.

Yes, I DO know what I'm talking about -- I led my dual life in the Department of Offense not that many years ago, for nearly 10 years. And my top skills meant nothing once I was Asked, then Told.

Johnny and John: I never made a claim that this cartoon is about rape. It is about whether openly gay people should be admitted into the military.

As of yet no one has given a response to my statement that since women and men require separate quarters why would not openly gay men and straight men be allowed the same? If that would be the case I would have no problem with openly gay people in the military. I would actually welcome them. It would give us a larger pool of people to draw from and significantly improve our armed forces.

To answer your question:

There are other reasons for
men and women showering separately in our culture,
than to avoid sexual attacks--
those being modesty and privacy among others.
You're assuming that Gay
men have uncontrollable
libidos. You are incorrect.
"Gay" is not synonymous with
"sex maniac." In the same
way that 99% of heterosexual men
would not rape women if they
shared a shower, Gay men would not automatically
attack straight men.

I'm afraid that after this
back and forth between us,
I can only assume that it
is your discomfort we are
discussing here. I hope
these words provide you
with some relief.

J, there's the beauty of this thread -- you, raising the fear of sexual assault. While you may not have said the cartoon was about rape, you spun it that direction. So here we are.

To James L. Bloor, I knew Leonard Matlovich's lover. Great guy.

Personally, I know many of us didn't lie to get into the military, but when the pieces all fell into place as we reached young adulthood, and we found ourselves neck deep in a homophobic culture, most of us were scared to death of being assaulted. By people like you. I know I was. Sailors disappear off ships not too uncommonly.

I think John answers well your question about separate quarters for men and women, but he didn't call you on still making this about sexuality, and rape is still not about sexuality. As I said before, it IS about power and aggression. So what will we do about all the felons who didn't even lie about that to enlist? That doesn't seem to bother you one bit, and yet, you're the one who brought up the violence problem. Fascinating.

And, from my original post, it bothers you not that the loved ones of gays servicemembers -- who you don't even know -- won't get equal treatment if their loved ones fall.

And, you'd also still prefer a servicemember to lie and stay in the closet, than be truthful. The facade means more to you than honesty?

You would have been well off to fight by my side, but I'd have been quite nervous to have ever depended on you.

Thanks, Johnny.

Both Johnny and and John have resorted to making unfounded assumptions about me and putting words in my mouth that I never typed, implied or inferred. That is not the way I was taught to have an intelligent discussion. Anything less is a waste of my time.I have made my thoughts on Lowe's cartoon known. That was my intention."Mission Accomplished"

J, your typed words support everything I've written, so no reader needs your deflection of responsibility for those words. Chan Lowe drew a great cartoon showing that in death, we are all equal, finally. I just wanted to point out that their survivors aren't treated equally. Hopefully, bigoted ideas will die long before the people who hold them do.

You made your thoughts on
Lowe's cartoon known. You
were not misunderstood. I
believe that both Johnny and
I completely understand where
you were coming from--and that's
what we have problems with.

Now I know how the black man felt while defending America.

To John and Johnny: since you two can not see where you made false assumptions about me and my posts here, I will point them out to you.


I do not assume gay men have uncontrollable libidos. I did say that rape does happen both homo and heterosexual in nature.I have had numerous gay friends in my life and have never been concerned about being sexually assaulted.I never showered with them and would not want to, not because I was afraid of being raped but because I knew what they thought when they look at guys. The same things I would think if I saw a naked woman showering. How did I know what they thought? They told me. I am not uncomfortable in any way around gay people. The only exception is in matters of privacy. I made the analogy of women being separate from men which you totally missed. Why do women deserve privacy from individuals who look at them in a sexual manner(straight men)but men don't deserve privacy from individuals who look at them in a sexual manner(gay men)?? You ignored my whole analogy by brushing it off as "customary".


You even have the nerve to accuse me of being homophobic and that I'm the type of person that would actually assault someone for being gay!!! How can you possible make the huge assumption from a few measly posts??

Then you bring up a different topic(felons in military) that I said not a single word about and yet you proceed to state my opinion on the matter for me. I guess you can read minds. "Fascinating"

I will restate what I said earlier: I think homosexuals should be allowed to openly gay in the military. I think the military just needs to make a few small changes(showers, sleeping quarters) to accommodate how they are different. It's is no different then how the military treats different religions. They have chaplains of various faiths as well as places of worship on base/post for different faiths also. They do not have one "preacher" and one "church" for all religions. All religions are accommodated for, why not all sexual preferences?

BTW, it does seem that I interpreted the cartoon differently than you two. I saw it as saying that gays should be openly admitted in the military because they can die the same as straight people. I did not glean anything about survivors rights from the carton.

I am in the military..I have served my country for 34 years now...All active duty time. And I must say this...WHO CARES!!! Shame on all of you...We are defending this country...and for anyone to think it's OK to use a family's grief and loss of a son or daughter in a carton relating to gay issues is crossing the line.... Which just goes to prove another point..there are far worse people in this world than the gay population..Just look in the mirror. And Mr. Lowe.. My opinion for what it is worth.. is that you owe an apology to those families getting their loved one back in a draped casket.. to all that serve.. Thank You

Your arguement was used a few decades ago, except the used the words "black" and "white" instead of "homosexual" and "heterosexual".

"Seperate but Equal" was ruled to be discriminaion back then, why would it be different now?

This cartoon is still being circulated by well-intentioned opponents of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. As a gay man who served honorably in the US Army, I also oppose the discriminatory DADT policy. I'd like to go on record, however, as being sick to my stomach from the use of this particular means to an end. I almost feel compelled to apologize for it - especially to my network of friends and family for whom the military plays or has played an important role in their lives.

Images of young Americans in flag-draped coffins are not appropriate pawns for any of us to use for advancing political agendas.

As a veteran and an American, I find the use of images like this to be profoundly disrespectful of military families and in very poor taste. I don't care what your issue is.

If anyone was offended by the image, I hope they realize it was probably propagated by someone unfamiliar with the military who hadn't really thought through the pain it might unwittingly cause a large number of Americans who have borne great personal and family sacrifices. They probably saw the image and had the knee-jerk reaction to pass it along as evidence of their feeling that discrimination of any sort is wrong. I look forward to the day when we can all agree on that point. Until then, please know there are hundreds of thousands of opponents of the DADT policy who support, respect and honor the US military. They are not mutually exclusive, even if they get twisted around sometimes to look that way.

This is the first time I've seen these political cartoons. This one really blew me away. Its amazing. I'm a straight, white female, but I cannot understand why people cannot get along. I have no predjudices that I know of. A soldier is a soldier. They (both men and women) fight for our freedom everyday in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. There is no reason anyone should be categorized (especially as "defective") just because of where their heart leads them.

The 'funny' thing about the whole male/male rape occurrences is that it's the straight men raping the gay men when they find out that the other member is or is even suspected of being gay.....Hypocrisy anyone??

Gay men aren't women, buddy. Most of the members of our military are from the 21st century and aren't scared to shower with other dudes and women. The logic of all this is so so weak - always has been. Our silly ass politicians cave to the old homophobic brass who are most likely in fact closeted gays themselves (see: Ed Shrock, etc.)

Hmm. Well I have been in full support of gays being allowed in the military ever since I can remember, but I have to say that J. brings up a valid point and I guess I'm the only one that sees exactly what he is saying. He clearly says that he has no problem with gays serving openly but that the govt would need to make some concessions to allow this.

Everyone has a right to their physical privacy from members of the opposite sex or members of their own sex that are homosexual. This means that I, being a straight female, should not have to knowingly shower with a lesbian and he, being a straight man, should not have to shower with a gay man. It comes down to basic rights to privacy that we all have in regards to showing our bodies. As he points out, you know that if a man is attracted to women and showers with them then he'll be looking. Does that make it ok for him to shower with them? No. Same theory goes here. Straight men or women should not have to shower with people that they know are going to be "checking out the goods." And that is all he is saying. He didn't say it was about gay men raping straight men. He merely makes a point that facilities would need to be separate for privacy reasons.

Taylor, comparing this to segregation is laughable and not even near the same thing. Black men showering with white men...who cares. Black men showering with white women...uh that's a problem. Even if you switch the races because it's not about race but gender. And that is J.'s point. All of you that are misconstruing his words and attacking him need to rethink your position. Would you gladly shower with a gay man if you're a straight man? Would you women happily shower with a lesbian? No? Well now you understand what he is saying.

Distraction and discipline.

They're a distraction from the mission at hand. A person who can't decide of they are a man or a women, can't be truthful with themselves or others. Presently they had to lie to enter the military, are liability and a distraction. Distractions get soldiers killed. No integrity, no discipline, and will find no unity from other soldiers. Their beliefs and actions are still unaccepted in society even today as they were thousand of years ago. It's against natural law of procreation and morally degenerate. Moral people don't give kinship to Homosexuals and look at them as a evil contradiction in life. Even a child knows the difference between the genders, this should say something about the mental ability of a Homosexual.

I'm a combat Vet of 26+ years. They weren't accepted before, they still aren't, and won't be in the future. A soldiers focus must be on the mission at hand, not on the reliability or integrity of his subordinates.

There's just something physiologically wrong with a man or woman who can't cognitive decide their gender or their sexual orientation. You only have to look at nature to help affirm it.

Note to the Author;

You haven't served, you haven't been there, and you don't know. Everything you comment to is personal speculation. It was Adam and Eve who fostered the races of mankind not Adam and Steve. I haven't seen a man yet who could procreate by themselves or with another man or women together who could and bear a child for 9 months.

There are problems with gays in the military and in life generally. It's a contradiction of moral and ethical behavior rather you choose to realize it or not. If you believe in a spiritual life and the immortal soul you can't help to see something wrong. What you do in your privacy of your home is your business but what you do in public and the children you influence has great impact on the future of mankind. It is not rational nor and the insanity of such will affect the future.

Homosexuals are not different races of people they are just people. People who require only to look at the natural order of things to realize they're actions and lifestyle are contrary to everything in life and the beginning of life itself. I may have to tolerate your desistance on this earth but I don't have to like it.

I don't expect to have these comments displayed because they bear the truth of life itself but I can say, I didn't sit idly by and except the degrading of a our society by a few who are incapable of realizing their true purpose in life.

P.S. I saw the movie "Alexander," also and it was a jollywood lie. Maybe you need to quit watching so much TV and have more fellowship with people of integrity and understanding. They say you emulate the actions and emotions of those you continually associate with. I can see you're in dire need of a bit of morality and realism.

Audie Murphy:
It's people like you who fill the world with hate. It's people like you who are the beginnings of discrimination, murder, and genocides. The fact of the matter is, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have been around since ancient times. In several of these ancient cultures, they were completely accepted and even celebrated. In Rome, many of the men were gay and bisexual. This was considered normal. In America, several Native American tribes considered homosexuality as a sort of gift from the gods, and thought of it as the ability to take over both the male and female roles, making the person extremely successful.
Homosexuality is, however, not always about a "difference between genders" as you put it. As a bisexual female, I know I'm female. I know my gender. LGBT people all know their true gender, whether that corresponds to their physical sex or not. Homosexuality is purely about attraction and love. I dare one person to tell me there's something wrong with love.
Homosexuality is also present in other species. Dolphins, penguins, lions, elephants, swans, and several species of monkey are known to show homosexual behavior, to name a few. So your comment about only having to "look at nature to help affirm it" is untrue.
With modern technology, anyone can reproduce. It's called adoption, sperm banks, and surrogate mothers. Besides, humanity could use a little population control, especially with the rate the world is going. We're going to run out of space. My personal view is that both gay and heterosexual couples should try to adopt, if they must have children. But that's a separate argument.
By the way, the Bible talks about being pro-slavery more times than it mentions homosexuality. Whether you're spiritual or not, the Bible was written by man. That was a different time. We've moved on from slavery. Hopefully we can get past homophobia as well.

I've been in military for 11 years now, and just wanna say: who cares what people do in their free time? I certainly don't. Nor my fellas.

I am a Marine and I also want to share that it may be a personnel issue it has nothing to deal with the battlefield so don't worry

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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