The Fight Has Only Begun

Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may be, at long last, on its way out, LGBT Christians must do more than merely rejoice. There is work for us to do yet.

Christians have been a big part of the reason why the grievously discriminatory policy of DADT was such a linchpin of military “discipline” in the first place. Chaplains in the armed services have largely — and vociferously — supported it. But gay and lesbian servicepeople tend, like most of the young folks who enlist, to be among the most religious and responsible members of society at large. There aren’t a lot of wild hedonists interested in risking their lives for their country.

For straight Christians to treat all gays and lesbians like aliens bearing some evil pox from outer space is a grave injustice. It is a shameful slander. The integration of the military cannot be completed while the integration of the churches remains a work undone.

If, indeed, we are to enjoy a new openness in the military ranks, it must not be only the opportunity to show photos of our families or mention our spouse’s name. It must also allow us to share our faith — and specifically what it means to us as gays and lesbians. This will be an important witness, but it will not be easy. The sad fact is that many of those most likely to bully and harrass us for our openness will likely be straight Christians. Many of whom come from backgrounds where we are still vehemently hated and feared.

Those of us who are willing to serve in spite of this will still need all the boldness and courage they can muster. In some ways, with the lifting of the ban on our open service, the battle has only just begun. LGBT Christians all over America need to be aware of the task that still stands ahead of us. We can be of tremendous help by showing support for those brave young people in a variety of creative ways.

Through our welcoming churches, we can send care packages filled with comforts from home. We can send letters to buoy spirits weighted by the worries of war. We can, perhaps, even adopt a soldier whose family might not be supportive. And by all means, we can monitor how our friends in uniform are treated. We — speaking out as LGBT Christians — can hold chaplains to their responsibility to represent Christ to ALL who serve.

Opportunities abound for us to be helpful. We can truly support the troops by helping to support our own: bearing the rainbow flag right alongside the Stars and Stripes. If DADT is really ending, we have reason to celebrate. But in its wake, we must not rest too soon.

The Giant Lavender Rabbit

All these studies and surveys about the effects of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell serve only to show one thing — something largely missed by the media and most of the public. They show how truly irrational many people still are about homosexuality. They’ve gotten ahold of the wrong end of the stick. We’re all supposed to worry about the reaction of bullies and bigots who fear gays. It never occurs to the hysterics to worry about the problem that actually underlies the bullying and the bigotry.

What the military has is a crisis of discipline. It is afraid it can’t make straights who fear gays behave. It is really not the behavior of gays that is causing the problem at all. We are being scapegoated because we are a minority, and minorities are always easy to blame. But in so doing, our military succumbs to a cowardice shamefully unbecoming to an organization built on courage.

It is like being afraid to leave your house because of the giant, carnivorous lavender rabbit you’re sure must wait outside. You must refuse all invitations to go anywhere, and warn all visitors away, because of that big, evil bunny. You must sneak out the back way and tiptoe past the threat if you wish to venture beyond the confines of your house. There is no meat-eating rabbit out there in reality, and all the sane people in your life wonder why you’re so afraid. But though they keep telling you otherwise, you refuse to believe them, crouching inside and peeking out the windows to catch a glimpse of the evil monster lurking there.

The military, and the bigots who encourage such nonsense, believe in the carnivorous lavender rabbit. At least their behavior is every bit as irrational as if they did.

It is, at root, the same problem we face in our schools. The “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere that pervades them is not caused by gay kids being themselves. It is, in fact, a lack of discipline. Conservatives should understand this better than anyone else. But in their panic, they have lost sight of reason.

If no one else can get them to be reasonable, LGBT Christians should certainly do our best. Jesus Christ exhorted His followers to overcome fear with love and understanding. That anti-gay Christians lead the charge into the hysteria now gripping the military is a scandal and a disgrace. They must be told to buck up and stop the freakout. They can’t go on persuading others to believe in their Savior when they clearly aren’t willing to trust in Him themselves.

They seem to think they can do nothing about the skinheads, or gang-bangers, or Nazis, or convicted criminals in their ranks. They’d rather pick on the gays, not because we are really frightening but because they’re actually more afraid of the mayhem they’ve let loose in our armed services. They want to appease the thugs because those troublemakers are holding them hostage. “We mustn’t make waves,” they claim, “because we’ll make them angry — and then they’ll REALLY show us!”

Who’s really in charge, here? Is it the thugs — or We, the People? Polls overwhelmingly show that the people think gays should be able to openly serve. It’s time to drive that giant lavender rabbit back into the darkness where nightmares belong.