By: Brandy Black
I interviewed John M. about being gay in the navy and his thoughts on the most recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Brandy– John, tell me a little about yourself.
John – Well, I first discovered I was gay in my preteens…I had my first gay experience when I was 7 and it was from a babysitter and that started the whole process of being interested. Then, probably when I was 12 or 13, I started noticing my friends and having feelings for them that I probably shouldn’t have had…all my other friends were talking about their girlfriends and I was interested in them.
I joined the navy when I was 19 and tried to fit in and tried to be somebody that I wasn’t. I was trying to conform to the norm…and then I ended up getting married, which was an experience, that’s for sure.
I was really in denial to myself about who I was and what I was. It wasn’t until I was 27 that I realized, it’s ok to be gay and it’s ok to be attracted to the same sex. But for a long time –for years –until I was 27, I tried to find that babysitter because I thought he made me gay and it wasn’t until late 26, early 27 that I realized that he didn’t.
Brandy– How old was he when this happened?
John – He was 13. For the longest time, I wanted to find this guy and I wanted him dead and then I started remembering that it wasn’t a horrible experience; we never had sex, it was just touching, feeling –and it didn’t feel awkward. Like having sex with my wife felt more awkward to me –felt weirder –than what happened with the babysitter. So at 27 I finally came out.
Brandy– Your mom is gay, right?
John– Yes, I know she’s gay and I brought it up to her and she admitted it but she’s not comfortable talking about that subject at all…she’s a closeted lesbian. And my dad…it’s like a Jerry Springer show, really. They both cheated on each other with the same woman…they had a mutual female friend and my dad had been cheating on my mom with her and it turns out that my mom, when she moved to Arizona, she moved out with that same woman and then filed for divorce from my father.
Brandy– So what was it like being gay in the military?
John– When you are in the military you literally feel like you are living a double life. You can’t talk in your sleep, you can’t get so intoxicated that you don’t get emotional and say things that you would definitely regret later. You have to monitor everything. You know guys, they talk about women…I had to make stuff up. I actually had to go look up a few things when it came to certain issues in the bedroom because I didn’t know. I was in the navy; I could have been kicked out for lying on my application and it wasn’t until Clinton was in office when he came up with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…but if you told you were still kicked out.
Brandy– Did you know anyone in the Navy that was gay?
John– There was a guy on the ship that we knew was gay and they sent him away on an “errand” if you will, and we all had a big meeting about him and they said, “Look, we all know he’s gay but we can’t do anything about it. But if any of you know anything or see anything, let us know because then we can do something about it.”
Brandy– Was he just more obviously gay?
John– He was the first in the showers and out of the showers…he had feminine mannerisms, stuff like that.
Brandy– Did you talk to him at all?
John– No, the moment you start talking to someone like that, you get grouped in with them. The sad part was we could not openly serve…we can die for our country but we couldn’t be gay. It didn’t make sense to me.
Brandy– Do you feel better now that you are finally speaking the truth about yourself and able to be who you are?
John– Yes. When you’re in that closet, you don’t see any good of “coming out”. All you see is losing your family and your friends. Your life is a disease. You feel trapped and like you have no out. You honestly don’t have anyone you can talk to. And I think the Ellens (Ellen Degeneres) of the world are important because things are changing.
Brandy– How do you feel about the recent repeal of DADT?
John– I am very happy that this policy has changed. This is a good step in the right direction for equal rights.
Brandy– Do you think gay people will be treated equally in the military now?
John– I do not think this will change much, right from the start. I feel that some of the older generation will have to retire to weed out the conditioning that has happened over years before we really start to see a huge impact. I think some people will come out of hiding right away…but I feel that those people will not be given a fair deal. I think in time it will not even be a concern, but it will be a rocky start. To some degree, I think if the homosexuals will ease into being open about it (not that we should have to, mind you), but again, with the years of programming and conditioning of the older generation and even some of the newer generation it will take some adjusting on both sides. We all have to be respectful of others’ beliefs, even if they differ from our own. One side cannot cram their beliefs down the other side’s throats.
Brandy– Anything else you want to leave us with?
John– I hope that both sides –gays and straights –really work at this and keep open minds about the other side and remember that we are all people. We all have different paths in life to take.
I hope that this will open up options for gays and lesbians, so they will be able to serve their country without lying or hiding who they really are. I also hope that in time, the heterosexual population can see that we are not that different, that we can fight alongside them and defend our country just as well as the next person…that our beliefs in Honor, Duty, and Family are not all that different.
The Next Family would like to thank John for this interview and for serving our country.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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