Gay Peace Advocates v. Gay Warmongers
When did the gay movement take a vote that our advocacy orgs and pride parades are only to promote gay soldiers, with no questions about advocating for that beautiful five-letter word P-E-A-C-E?
Yesterday I read on Pam Spaulding's site about the formation of yet another org, Outserve, to fight for gays in the military. She posted most of Outserve's release, including this scary quote from one of the new org's leaders, who is based in Iraq and cannot reveal his identity:
"We are here to fight and win wars, serve with integrity and honesty and protect the people fighting next to us. We are proud to sacrifice for the nation we love, but we have a lot of educational work to do."
Questioning unjust and illegal wars? Advocating for peace, justice and diplomacy over bombs and bloodshed? Calling for cutting America's war budget and diverting Pentagon dollars to AIDS drug cocktails and new, affordable housing for gay seniors?
Sorry, those issues are not on Outserve's agenda.
Frankly, I'm long over being asked to battle for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and seeing Gay Inc and too many gay bloggers not raising any serious questions about the Bush/Cheney-initiated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let me say that I really don't care if the likes of Dan Choi ever get a chance to spill the blood of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, all in the name of gay equality. Choi, in another failed publicity stunt, over the weekend gave his military ring to Sen. Harry Reid at the Netroots Nation confab, and one gay peace activist in San Francisco, longtime independent thinker Marc Salomon, is pleased Choi no longer serves in the U.S. military:
One less gay man committing war crimes in my name, with my tax dollars is a good start in my book.
(My friend Marc is not to be confused with gay marriage advocate Marc Solomon at Equality California.)
Can you recall the last time a gay peace advocate was honored as grand marshal at either the New York City or San Francisco pride parades? This year's Big Apple parade included warmonger Choi as a grand marshal, a role he served out here in 2009, and one of 2010's honorees by the SF Pride committee was lesbian military advocate Zoe Dunning.
There are some gay voices piping up for a wider discussion about gays and the military. In a listserv exchange, pre-Stonewall Riots activist Billy Glover pondered what justice means for contemporary advocates:
I wonder if even the people active in the effort to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell know the long history of our community/movement attempt to get justice in the Armed Forces.
In response, NYC gay peace activist Bill Dobbs had this to say:
Like so many of those involved in the DADT repeal effort you only look at the workplace conditions for those in the military – hoping for what you describe as “justice in the Armed Forces.”
Did it ever occur to you to ask some questions about US foreign policy, about what the military is doing? There’s the slight matter of war – US led wars of aggression on Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. But for an accident of birth and geography you might be in the cross hairs of a predator drone operated remotely by a GI. If you’re really lucky, a gay GI might blow your life to smithereens.
The historical insights you offer are interesting but often your perspective suffers from the same tunnel vision that limits the vision of gays much younger than you. That’s the big difference between those who aspire to ‘equality’ and those who want social justice even ‘liberation.’
I'm old enough to remember when thousands of gays were happy to stay out of the military and our leaders openly, and consistently, questioned the need for warfare and enormous Pentagon budgets. Actually, we still have a significant number of gays wanting to bring U.S. troops, gay and straight, home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and who endorse cutting military spending so tax dollars can fund domestic social needs.
It's just that gays with these views don't get nearly the attention deserve to present the world with diversity of opinion. Not every sissy wants to be a soldier.