akite: from a painting of an old fashion dressed girl on a bench  (Vendetta)
[personal profile] akite
With all the buzz about Congress possibly overturning the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the U.S. military, I thought I'd tell you all how it was for me back in the olden days.



As some of you might know, I served in the U.S. Army from 1975 - 1981. Yes Virginia, there were homosexuals in the Army then; some of them very openly so. My first encounter with the attitude held by most of my superiors was very curious. When I was going through the communications school at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, one of the first things they warned us about was staying away from a certain barracks that women who were stationed (rather than we who were just there for training) at the post lived. According to our First Sergeant, the whole barracks was filled with lesbians, and they were always looking for new recruits. We were told we could tell them by the black rose they had tattooed on the backs of their hand. The whole post knew about these women, but nobody ever did anything about them. There were no court martials and no one getting kicked out for being gay.

There was also "Mr." Green who worked in the branch PX across the street from my barracks. Mr. Green wore full make-up and nail polish. I heard one of the guys saying one day that he'd gone in the snack bar that was there by the PX and "Mr." Green was there with a bunch of his buddies. I assumed that they also worked on the post in some capacity. One thing amused me; Mr. Green would hand change back to the men, but wouldn't touch a woman. Our change was slapped down on the counter.

When I was stationed in Germany, there was a guy in the Infantry unit at the same post where I was who was a flaming queen. And I do mean flaming. He had the mincing walk and the limp wrist. He used to tie his shirts up under what would have been his breast if he had had any. OMG! Some of the colors we wore would knock your eyes out. There is no way anybody could have missed seeing him, but the higher ranked people turned a blind eye to it.

My ex-husband was in the Cavalry unit at the same post, and he worked at headquarters with a guy that kept a locker full of women's clothing and had a picture of himself in drag on his desk. When their rooms in the barracks were inspected, that extra locker was ignored.

Even when it was shoved under their noses, the people in charge, the higher ranked non-commissioned officers and the regular officers refused to acknowledge anything about anybody being gay. Two of my roommates and I tried to tell our platoon sergeant about our fourth roommate and this girl down the hall that were gettin' it on, in a relationship, whatever you want to call it. He said he didn't want to hear about it and got up and left the room. They refused to see it, even when these two women moved out of the barracks and in with each other off post. Which was a big relief to us, not that we had anything against them being gay, we just got tired of them waking us up or keeping us awake at night. We only said something our sergeant to see what he'd do.

What I'm trying to say is back then officials in the Army did their best to ignore that whole thing, with the single exception of my first story about being warned about the Black Rose Gang. I know there are other places and other people that got court martialed or kicked out of the armed services for being gay, but I think they had to have done something extraordinarily bad or stupid first. Everybody knew who was gay and who wasn't and guess what? The sun still came up every morning, and the Army was still there.

Please note these are my experiences and my opinions. Someone else that was in the military at the same time may have had a completely different experience.

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akite: from a painting of an old fashion dressed girl on a bench  (Default)
akite

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