Ding, dong, DADT is dead!

Archive for January, 2011

Moving To Middle America: Reactions

Whenever I mention at a party or gathering that I’m moving to [a majority Republican state in middle America], I always get the same reactions from the white radicals who generally attend gatherings at my white radical house. “Why?”  “God, how awful for you!” “What on earth are you going to do THERE?” “I would never be able to move there. There are just so many rednecks.” “It’s so white there!”

Dear Radicals:

Yes, I know that you are radical. I know that you voted for Obama only because he was the lesser of two evils. I know that you are an anti-racist, so you have no desire to hang around other white people (except for this party, apparently).  I can see that you are ridiculously enlightened, because nobody in their right (or should I say left?) mind would voluntarily move to [a majority Republican state in middle America].

I understand that you have been to Europe. I understand that you stayed in hostels in London, Paris, and Amsterdam (and yes, I understand that they’re so enlightened there that you were able to buy weed in a café). I understand that you have even ventured to dangerous non-white countries in Africa and Latin America, always travelling off the beaten path.

I understand that you are far too worldly and well-travelled for [a majority Republican state in middle America].

But with all due respect, shut the hell up.

For one, you’re acting like I don’t know what I’m getting into. And it’s a little bit rude to immediately scorn a decision that I spent a lot of time weighing and calculating. But you know what,  I don’t mind that. That’s why I’m moving there and you’re not.

But secondly, in your attempt to sound worldly and cultured, you actually just end up sounding like a dumb-ass. When you think about it, middle America is just as foreign for folks like me and you as Antarctica. And majority Republican states in middle America deserve the same culturally relative approach that you supposedly took with you to Mexico and South Africa and wherever else you went backpacking recently.

Your immediate dismissal of the place just shows that you are prejudiced against something you haven’t even seen, and you have no intention of ever finding out whether your prejudice is warranted.  I freely admit that I have my own preconceptions. But I don’t go spouting them off at parties –  ’cause I haven’t BEEN there.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I can read statistics. I realize that I’m going to a place where very few people identify as I do. But you didn’t care about that when you went to OTHER racist, anti-gay countries  where people thought differently. In fact, you came back having actually LEARNED something from the ass-backwards racism in London and Paris. So why is middle America different?

Thirdly, you wonder why right-wingers say the left is vitriolic and hateful – it’s because we are. No, I don’t think it’s ever okay to form militias to drive brown people into Mexico. But you can be critical of policies and doctrines without being a douchebag. Like it or not, we are going to have to integrate middle-America Republicans into our brave new America when the revolution comes. They’re not going to just disappear because you think they’re stupid. We need dialogue, not dismissal.

I’m not excited about leaving a hotbed of political activism, but I don’t think I have nothing to learn from where I’m going.

Employment Status

My main worry in moving to Militaryville is finding a job. Militaryville is north of Texas, south of Canada, east of Oregon, and west of Wisconsin. That translates to the MIDDLE OF FREAKING NOWHERE, as far as my world-travelling self is concerned.

I am reasonably confident that between teaching piano and freelancing for different publications, I will eke out an income. But I may, especially in the beginning, have to work part time at what I call a Shit Job to make ends meet. This could include bartending, administrative work, or anything else.

On the one hand I’m a radical who thinks job culture is bullshit and only wants to do the minimum required to not starve, while focusing on meaningful things like exploring and reading and learning. But on the other hand, I enjoy telling people that I’m a producer/blogger at a national news organization. That makes people look at me. That makes people want to know my name. That makes people ask my opinion about things.

So career-wise, this move is a major step down for me, at least initially. And it’s a bit of a blow to my pride.

Captain Awesome’s been unintentionally rubbing me the wrong way about it. She’s super concerned about my move to Militaryville, and really wants me to feel good there – part of which obviously includes supporting myself.  The problem is, there isn’t a shit-ton of jobs out there. I mean, the Craigslist page for this region only adds an average of four new jobs a DAY. (In DC, one of my housemates got a job by sitting in front of Craigslist and refreshing it every ten minutes. )

So Captain Awesome keeps sending me all these suggestions and links like, “Why don’t you become a notary?” “You could be a dental assistant and we could work together.”  “My friend said the Shopette is always hiring.” “Have you thought about becoming a real estate agent?”  “Why don’t you enroll in this career certificate course?”

Hold the phone. Not to sound like an elitist snob, but I have a DEGREE. I am a PRODUCER.  My next step is gonna be LAW SCHOOL.

What on godsgreenearth do I need a “career certificate” for?!?

I hate that my career goals (such as they are) are being thrown by the wayside while Captain Awesome gets to be a dentist. I know this was my choice, and is not her fault. But all these suggestions just rub it in for me.  I mean, I can totally live with a shit job. I’m not too good for any work. I know I may have to end up DOING a shit job. But to hear Captain Awesome talking about it like it’s already a given does NOT get me psyched about moving to Militaryville. Everything she mentions makes me think of the stereotypical military spouse without options who’s trying to make a little money on the side. I mean, I’m a classical PIANIST. I’ve had my work featured in ART SHOWS.  My articles are viewed by thousands of PEOPLE.

What am I gonna work at the Shopette for?

Got Headphones On.

I’m listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s song “America”.  Though I despise tobacco smoking with an unholy passion, I still think the saddest line in the world is  “Toss me a cigarette; I think there’s one in my raincoat…./We smoked the last one an hour ago.”

I mean, they’re already disillusioned about the American dream, they’ve lost their innocence — and they don’t even have SMOKES. I mean dang. That’s gotta be the nadir of your life. And then the A minor chord on it… You can’t really go wrong with A minor.

It makes me think of how I’ll be off to discover America, too. Where Captain Awesome lives, there’s nothing but plains and Regular Americans. There used to be Native Americans, but now it’s Real Americans. Who knew. I’ll be taking the train across the prairie, looking at new sights and seeing new people and never really fitting in — just the way I like it.

Captain Awesome just texted me and said she’s number 27 on her region’s deploying list. Who knows what that means. But it reminds me that even when we live together, there’ll be no guarantee that we can actually live together.

The Dark Of The Year

It’s my least favorite time of year, and it’s a crappy time for queer issues, too. January and February have absolutely nothing going for them unless you count my birthday. It’s kind of a no-man’s-land as far as the year goes: it’s after the holidays, but before summer starts inching back into the northern lands. All there is to do is go to work and hide out in the house, crocheting and playing languid songs on the guitar. It gets so lame that sometimes I’d rather work late than go home.

Military queers are kind of in a no-man’s land too. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed, but there’s no sign of implementation coming anytime soon. When they first counted up the votes there in the Senate gallery, I was ecstatic because I thought that DADT would be lifted at the same exact time that I moved to live with Captain Awesome. But even without the 60-day waiting period, that doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen soon. And support is trickling away as the issue falls out of the public eye – most people think that we’re “done”, even though it’s still technically illegal to be out and transgender issues STILL don’t have a place in any of this debate.

Captain Awesome is kind of down in the dumps, too. She doesn’t have the effervescent company of five gorgeous women in her house like I do, so all she does besides dental work is play with her dog and watch movies while cuddling with her dog.  The worst thing is that the anniversary of her father’s death is approaching, and I know I’m not going to be able to be with her on it. It makes ME want to cry thinking about it, so I can’t imagine how she must feel.

I want to fast forward through January and February and arrive at March. I mean, yeah – I’ll be moving to a place that has 84 percent white people and about the same amount of conservatives. But at least the daffodils will be blooming (if daffodils even bloom in Militaryville).

Post-Repeal: Should You Come Out?

The recent vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell changed my and Captain Awesome’s future overnight. At the Senate galleries in Washington DC, gays were jumping up and down and hugging each other all over the place.

We still have to wait for the Pentagon to “certify” that repeal can be successfully implemented, but it’s safe to assume that discharges until then will be minimal, if they happen at all. I mean, there would be no point in discharging someone if you know they can sashay (as one Militaryville writer put it) right back in the door the next month.

As a result, some troops have come out — my lady Captain Awesome among them. It wasn’t a big fanfare. For her, coming out meant that the next time a coworker asked her a personal question, she answered honestly. That was it. The coworker didn’t react at all. There have been no repercussions.

But that’s not the case for everybody. For some, coming out will never be an option because the people in their units are complete HATERS.

For those considering whether or not to come out, I give you this message from my friend Chief, posted on a networking site a few days after repeal:

Message to my military friends about coming out at work: You probably won’t get kicked out, but before implementation of policies, there is nothing saying you can’t be harassed or discriminated against based on your sexual orientation. Therefore leave, awards, and promotions would be at the mercy of your command climate, and would depend on how gay-friendly they were pre-repeal. Please act with caution and careful consideration of the politics involved in HOW you come out.

She hit the nail on the head. Those issues are still gonna be there even when repeal is enacted — because there is no language including sexual orientation (or gender, ut that’s even farther off the map) in the military’s non-discrimination policies.

So you see that coming out, for military queers, is not a simple issue. It’s not like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is repealed and we’re done with this. Coming out could cause you grief. It could impact the rest of your career.

The only thing military queers have to decide is whether that possible grief is bigger than what they’re facing now.

Military Wife Life

Now that I’ll be moving to Militaryville to live with Captain Awesome, I think it’s time to get this off my chest: I have a huge aversion to being an Army wife.

It’s not that I look down on them. It’s the opposite – I know too well the sacrifices they make.    A lot of those sacrifices can’t even be measured  because it’s stuff that will never happen if you’re a military wife. How are you supposed to have a career when you have to pick up and move jobs every two or three years? How do you go to a top-tier law school and live with your partner at the same time?

I’m gonna come out and say it: The Army has a lot of BALLS to be asking what they ask of military partners. (more…)

Preparing (in my head) to move.

The holiday is over, and I’m back from Seattle and then Militaryville. It was great to come home to the close-knit community that is my house, and nice to be back in a place that has actual people of color and multiple gay bars. But all I want to do is pack up all my stuff and go live with Captain Awesome already. We had a great time. Unfortunately, I still have to wait for my bosses to find someone to replace me. I mean, I don’t HAVE to – I could give them my two weeks – but there’s no point in ending things badly. Plus, every week that I stay makes a big difference to my savings account.

But Captain Awesome and I had such a nice time! Militaryville doesn’t have much to recommend itself, especially with the freezing temperatures, but Captain Awesome and I did our own thing. We basically just hung out in her apartment (which will soon be our apartment) and talked and laughed and made tea and baked cookies and crocheted and taught her dog tricks and watched movies and took showers and made out. Also we went to the single Thai restaurant in the area (I wanted Indian food, but that doesn’t exist in Militaryville. So sad). I met the two friends she’s picked up since I was last there – between all of us we had two Great Danes, one Black lab (that’s Captain Awesome’s dog), a fat old shepherd mix, and a little coyote dog.  That’s five dogs. So of course the logical place to meet was at the dog park, where we spent an hour freezing our butts off.

We also went to the grocery store, which did have some natural foods (though they were off in their own special section, much like “ethnic” food is – as if the food in the section is abnormal or something).

The best thing was that we weren’t afraid people were going to report her for looking like a big gay homo. Captain Awesome has basically decided to come out. She says she’s still being careful, but her actions said otherwise. She kept taking my hand in the street. I felt nervous about it, but we talked and she said she had considered the risks and chosen to ignore them. So I stopped saying anything  — it’s her choice.

But even without Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, it’s still going to be tough work being fabulous there. Militaryville seems to be half military people, half frat-boy university students, and half Bible-thumpers. There were several times when we walked into a room or restaurant and were the ONLY people of color there – which I hadn’t experienced on a regular basis since I lived in Europe (which has a whole different set of problems). And we were definitely the only queer couple. I caught all kinds of stares, and one lady at the arts and crafts store was just straight-up rude to me.

I’m not saying I can’t handle them – but can Militaryville handle us, I wonder.