With most people who belong to a group that’s typically seen as a “minority”, there’s a concrete moment in your life when you realize what being part of that group really means. I mean, you’re not born knowing you’re supposed to be oppressed. You have to be told directly. There are countless instances in the memoirs and anecdotes of people of color where the narrator realizes what race meant in a sudden and visceral way, often by being betrayed by a close friend or getting kicked out of something they thought they had a right to be in.
Same goes for don’t-ask-don’t-tell. I don’t know if Captain Awesome had a moment like that. She tends to think things through more than I do, so maybe she already knew what was gonna go down.
I definitely had a moment. Like, I knew what the law WAS. I knew we were gonna be operating under some restrictions. But it didn’t really hit home until the day Captain Awesome graduated from dental school. She was just Lieutenant Awesome back then. You don’t get commissioned as captain until you graduate. So it was a big day. All her family came down from her home state to see it. It was great. She looked almost as sexy in her robes as she does in her uniform.
It wasn’t until after the graduation, when all the people had gone away and it was just her and me, me telling her how proud I was of her, that she said, “So… I had my commissioning ceremony today.”
I was shocked and hurt. “What? You mean I missed it? I thought you were gonna tell me what time it was!”
She shrugged and mumbled something that was not a reason.
“Aw, come on,” I said. “You knew I was excited about that! Didn’t it occur to you that I would have wanted to see it? Your family’s gonna think I don’t support you!”
She shrugged, not meeting my eyes. “I guess I didn’t wanna seem too gay,” she said softly.
That shut me up like a slap in the face. “Oh,” I said. “Sometimes I forget we’re gay.” I didn’t want her to feel bad about something she couldn’t help, so I continued in a bright tone, “I mean, it’s not important. You guys took pictures, so it’s not like I actually had to be there. I needed to practice piano anyway, so it actually worked out.”
I don’t know if she believed me. We went out and had a great evening. I mean, we couldn’t change it, so why worry.
But that was when I started watching my behavior.
I’m afraid that when the law is repealed, we won’t remember how to be out together.