BY: CHRISTINE CELIS
“Law enforcement and the military are both boys’ clubs,” said Carlos*, 22, as he sat down in front of me. “No matter where you go, those two fields are always full of manly men. Of course, there are ladies, but they’re always expected to be lesbians. I wish it wasn’t like that.”
Carlos belongs to a family full of servicemen. The second of four boys, he was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and his older brother, both with high ranks in the military. His family threatened to not send him to college if he didn’t go to military school or a police academy.
“I purposely botched both entrance exams. My hands grew tired of answering all questions. They were forced to let me take up legal management instead, since it was the next best thing—for me to become a lawyer. Up until now, they still have no idea that I’m gay.”
According to a study made by a scholar from UCLA’s Williams Institute, there are about nine million people in the U.S. that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. So far, there are no definitive facts about what percentage of that nine million serves in law enforcement and the military. In 2011, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy put into effect by the Clinton administration was revoked. So far, there are only 46 countries (mostly developed nations) that openly allow gays in their military forces—six fewer than the 52 countries that disallow them from serving.
“The revocation of DADT is such bullshit,” Carlos said. “I have trans friends that joke about stuff like how they’ve spent too much money on themselves to be sent out to battle. But then, they’re quite outspoken how it’s still unfair. It’s like these people think that transgenders aren’t capable of serving their country. They get disqualified based on psychiatric evaluations and that their genitals are defective. It’s like they’re implying that these wonderful people don’t have the capacity to be normal. No, they’re normal. You’re just a discriminative asshole.”
He also mentioned his distaste in the Israeli Defense Forces. “Sure, it’s amazing that a country is open to the idea. You allow gays to serve, but if you let them suffer from homophobia and violence, you’re still doing something wrong.”
Carlos, now a law student, recalled how his father and his older brother beat him up when he cried or went “soft” when he was younger. “The worst thing about that was my Muslim upbringing. My dad was uptight about that. A lot of Muslim countries are very anti-gay. My dad always told us about how gay people are invalids, useless to society. That still sticks to me up until now because I automatically have this mindset that people think that way due to my sexual orientation. Sometimes, I don’t know if I’m sad or glad that Dad’s gone. Sad because he provided for me as a child and I know that he was a good man. Glad because I only have my brother to answer to now.”
LGBT and women’s rights are gaining ground. The freedom of one segment of the population does not dilute the freedom of another. It just simply means that freedom is uniform. Contrary to popular opinion, not all men have had it easy throughout history. Discrimination can’t be eliminated in one snap of a finger with a wedding band. Carlos plans on using his education as leverage in the fight against systematic LGBT discrimination.
“I grew up playing with toy guns and soldiers, but, when I was in fifth grade, I just knew that something was different with me. Men rule the world. We get it. It’s sad because I think those that are homophobic tend to be the least educated and experienced with the LGBT community.”
Being gay is not something that you can beat out of your child. It is more than a sexual disposition. You can’t touch what’s deeper than skin.
*Name changed to protect the anonymity of the subject.