“Just-a-Joe,” a gay American soldier, has been plugging away at his anonymously written blog RepealNow.org only since March 20, as far as we can tell. He’s stationed in the Middle East. He’s been writing about the politics of LGBT equality, Dan Choi’s White House chaining, and what he’ll do during his leave. Last week, abruptly, he came out of the closet to his fellow soldiers. And now he’s on his way to a dismissal. Ugh.
On Thursday, he wrote, “Today, I came out of the closet.” He wasn’t planning on it. But when a regular political conversation among he and his comrades got to gay marriage, the “conversation kept building, and I felt the voice inside of me screaming. If from that conversation it was not noticeable that I was gay, they were crazy. I did everything but say this. The bubble finally popped though, I spoke rather loudly (outside I remind you) and stated ‘I am gay.’ I proceeded to give a speech fit for the public. I was rather impressed with it actually, I am a much better speaker than a writer. I rather hastily discussed the issues that we face, and how I give my blood and sweat just as they do. I told them flat out, ‘You know Ryan? My girl? Well… She does not have tits, he has a dick’ and continued to explain how long we have been together and why he has sacrificed more than any of there wives.”
He told his peers about how he’s doing his own things to fight for equality and repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, like reaching out to his representatives. And so: “Following this I walked off, and started cracking up! I do not know why, but I could not stop laughing. My boss came over and sat down, and started a conversation. He told me this. ‘I just want to let you know that this does not change my opinions at all. You are not going to be able to do that. However, my opinions are not changed concerning you either. I am not going to single you out. I am not going to out you. This can stay between us. You did make it real for me, however. I never thought about it from that perspective. If something was to happen to you, your partner would not even know. I do disagree with that, its wrong.’ My warrant officer came over, shook my hand, and left. I think he was genuinely confused. I think in his mind he was surprised that gay people actually exist, that gays are not, just a conspiracy theory.”
That was a good day. The next few were not.
On Saturday, “I was informed that my command would be initiating an investigation on me. My luck with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is up. To be honest today has thrown so much in my face, I want to cry. I am at a loss of what to do. The other day, I felt honorable. I felt prideful. Today, I feel like a fucking criminal. I am tired. After serving this country for three years, in two deployments, I am no longer a soldier. I am now a prisoner. Let me be clear, because I thought this would be freeing, I thought I would be happier. I am not. Today, I am worse off than the previous three years.”
It turns out, his boss — his first sergeant — who told him he was “not going to single you out” was the one who reported him: “I told him that I understood if he wanted to go to the command about it, but to let me do it. Let me keep my dignity, my integrity. I have a lot of respect for my First Sergeant and I wanted it to come from me. He agreed, and he said he was not going to. He is a liar, and I have no respect for him as a soldier, NCO, leader, man, or human being. He did not keep his word. He talked, to more than just my First Sergeant. He posted this on his facebook, which I have no evidence that he is directing at me, however it speaks for itself.”
So what happens now? This:
It is interesting to be told that “I can not afford to loose you right now” while filling out a sworn statement. This is what my unit is doing. They are preparing the paperwork to discharge me under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while telling me that it will sit in a manila envelope and not be pursued. Essentially, do to the fact that we are at war they need me. But when we return home they could effectively fire me. If I am not “qualified” to serve you would think that would insinuate any circumstance. However, at times of war those rules are overlooked.
I have been contacting Senator Claire McCaskill’s office because she is one of my Senators. I can never get through, and they tell me to send an email. Unfortunately, I send emails and get fact sheets about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” back. I live under this policy and now I live on top of it. I do not need facts, I need support. I just got off the phone with her Columbia office and I made them listen to me. Hopefully she will actually get the message. Hopefully she will see that I am one of her Missouri constituents and she needs to support me. If I am good enough to serve, if I am so important during war. I am worthy of my job in the states as well.
Instead, they will table the discharge until we return from Iraq, and then they will fire me. When they no longer want me. Enough is enough. Our Senators need to understand that we are real individuals. We are here. Every one of them has a gay soldier as a constituent begging silently for a voice. Hoping they will get that help. This is a congressional issue. They are going to make the decision on this.
We’ll leave you with these words: “I have a message to our government, to President Obama, to our nation! I fought for your freedoms! I am in Iraq now! I am currently fighting for your freedoms and if you can not give me the decency of honesty, of my integrity, my dignity, then I am done serving you. I will not be subjected to cruel acts of religious morality checking. That is not for the government nor my leaders to decide. I am an American soldier, not a terrorist! A soldier, what they call a hero. I give my blood and sweat to this country just as much as some of you and more than most of you! Change this for me.”
(We’re reaching out to Just-a-Joe for some more information. We’ll let you know what we hear.)