Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Homophobia Abounds in DADT Survey

The Pentagon’s survey to servicemen has been leaked, and the questions, designed to gauge attitudes toward GLBT servicemen and women, are laden with homophobia. According to ABC News, among many questions intended to bring out the “ick” factor–as Mike Huckabee likes to dwell on it–are:

“If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities with an open bay shower that someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian Service member also used, which are you most likely to do? Mark 1.”

So asks the Pentagon survey of 400,000 non-deployed active troops regarding the pending repeal of the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

The choices:

“Take no action;

“Use the shower at a different time than the Service member I thought to be gay or lesbian;

“Discuss how we expect each other to behave and conduct ourselves;

“Talk to a chaplain, mentor, or leader about how to handle the situation;

“Talk to a leader to see if I had other options;

“Something else;

“Don’t know.”

What about a multiple-choice answer like, “It doesn’t bother me.” Or: “Taking a shower with a gay person is the least of my concerns.” Or: “I am a gay or lesbian serviceperson, and what’s important is that I want to serve my country.”

Servicemembers United is encouraging its constituents not to respond to the survey; Robert Gates encouraged active gay and lesbian troopmembers to respond, claiming that responses would not be used to discharge them.

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Filed under: gay rights, government, military, obama, , , , , , , ,

DADT Images, in Shadow and Light

A man in uniform, seated on a bed, his body turned away. His face hidden by a white windowpane.

Jeff Sheng’s photographs of gay and lesbian servicepeople are based on a simple premise: like our faulty “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the photographs focus on appearances: women and men in uniform, not being asked about their sexual orientation, and by hiding this part of their identity, safely secure in their military positions. The visual imagery, however, belies, comfort in a secure job: in one of the first images Sheng took, a hand covers one soldier’s face. In another, shadows hide two women in a kiss.

For Sheng’s subjects, the choice to participate was a complex, personal decision. Just being photographed, despite the fact that faces would not be shown, was to risk dismissal. One of the soldiers, Jess, describes the feeling of always asking whether to come out or stay closeted:

After serving in Afghanistan, Jess was moved from what he called a “more liberal” unit to one where he was “pushed back in the closet.” He finds his situation difficult. “You can’t get to know people,” he said. “You can’t develop bonds with the people you’re fighting with day in and day out. I can’t talk about myself. I’m afraid I’ll reveal something. I’m constantly on guard.”

Sheng’s image of two women is particularly striking. Facing each other, one woman in her navy uniform, her partner in a red dress with tightly coiffed hair, evokes 50’s glamour and style; it’s ironic to apply the secrecy and shame of a bygone era to an ostensibly more progressive 2010.

Though President Obama and legislative leaders seem to be crawling in the repeal process of DADT, the conclusion that DADT will be repealed is certain. It’s just a matter of time.

Filed under: art, gay rights, military, , , , , , , ,

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BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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