All this homosexual wants is respect for her rights

ROGER SIMON

April 05, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

She grew up in Baltimore and led a normal life.

When she was about 16, she discovered she was a homosexual and things changed a little:

She learned she could lead a normal life only as long as she constantly lied.

"I am the same as everyone else," she said. "I want a happy home, nice life, good job. I am different from heterosexuals in who I sleep with, but that is the only difference."

She called to thank me for a column I had done about lifting the ban on gays in the military. She told me she had served in the Army for 20 years, had become an officer and had retired last year.

She had to lie to get into the Army, however, she had to lie to stay in the Army and when she got Top Secret clearance, she had to lie again.

"I don't know what causes homosexuality," she said, "but I know it's not a choice. Because anybody in his or her right mind would not choose this lifestyle.

"Nobody would choose the housing discrimination, job discrimination, harassment and gay bashing that you have to face every day."

She asked me not to use her name. She is not out of the closet and probably never will be.

"I just have too much fear after all these years," she said. "Once, in the Army, another soldier accused me of being a lesbian and my commanding officer called me in and confronted me.

"I lied and he believed me. But that could have been it for me. My job, my life, nearly 20 years, everything could have been down the drain in an instant."

I asked her when she knew she was a homosexual. (She prefers that term to lesbian or gay.)

"Probably when I was 16," she said. "I had done the normal dating routine with boys and it was fine but then a girl in school approached me and I felt more at ease and, well, the rest was history." She laughed one of the few laughs I would hear from her.

Were you scared? I asked.

"I was scared to death," she said. "I knew I was different, but there was nobody I could talk to. I couldn't even tell my best friend. Which brings up a point: You can have women friends who are not sexual partners.

"I realize that everybody keeps talking about the military showers and barracks, but that is ridiculous. If I am going to approach someone in that way, it will be another homosexual, not a heterosexual. For me to approach a heterosexual woman in a shower would be like, like . . . well, like you approaching a homosexual man in a shower. We are not looking to convert anybody. I am not even attracted to heterosexuals."

One need not approach or molest or even speak to someone in a homosexual manner to be drummed out of the military. You need do nothing. The mere act of being a homosexual, even if you never have a single homosexual experience, is enough to cause you to be court-martialed.

"I never dated any women in the military in my whole 20 years," she said. "I was too scared. Your whole life is on the line over this one issue."

When she got her Top Secret clearance she made a decision: If anyone tried to blackmail her to get secrets by threatening to expose her homosexuality, she would go to her commanding officer, admit what she was and turn the blackmailer in.

"But you know what?" she said. "If the military would just allow homosexuals, then nobody could blackmail homosexuals."

She supports lifting the ban on gays in the military, but she doesn't like the idea, recently floated by Bill Clinton, of keeping them in segregated jobs or housing.

"Even if the ban is lifted, I think most homosexual soldiers will not reveal their orientation," she said. "There will still be too many people with their own prejudices, so why reveal it? And having segregated housing and jobs will just serve to bring up the issue and throw it in people's faces."

What's the solution?

"I just think the same rules should apply to everyone," she said. "Just punish everyone equally. There should be no groping in the showers, homosexual or heterosexual. I don't see the need for two homosexual soldiers in uniform walking down the street on the post holding hands. Just apply the same rules to everyone."

So what is it you want? I asked.

"We're just asking for the same civil rights as everyone else," she said. "If we do something wrong, punish us. But don't punish us before we've done anything."

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