Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One more step

So here we are one step closer to those dreams. "Don't ask, Don't tell" was officially repealed today. Gays and Lesbians can now openly serve in the defense of their country. It puts me in a reflective mode. Having actually been there and done that I can take time now, almost 20 years since I left active duty in the Army, to look back and possibly share what this means to me.

Funny how with a 20 year gap and the perspective of age(yeah I was young once and didn't believe that shit then.) how you can see events with a different clarity. Please don't take this as a sob story, or the plot for a really good movie of the week (showing my age there). So there I was a young man in his early 20's that knew it all but was desperately trying to figure out what was wrong, and why I was 'different' from all of my friends in that one crucial area. Sure we'd just returned from WAR and having 1/2 a bottle of MGD kick my ass was an affront to my proud Polish/Irish heavy drinking ancestry. Call us Alcoholics and we'd wear the badge with pride.

It's easy to blame your actions on the alcohol, it's much harder to escape the harsh reality when you're looking into the mirror two days later stone cold sober. All I 'knew' about gay men came from Hollywood and TV. The prancing queen that was over the top flamboyant and that was sooo far removed from the person I was I couldn't understand. I knew that was NOT me and I could never become such a thing, I'd rather be dead then end up acting like that. Things were still black and white for me back then, there were no shades of gray, no possibility that alternatives existed. So I wanted to be numb, if you can't think you can't face truths, you don't have to deal with it. As I'm sure any addict can tell you this is a classic behavior. It's a phase, it will pass, etc, etc etc etc.

Did I mention the Polish/Irish ancestry? To boil it down let's say 'stubborn' is a trait. Not to mention that I was raised much better than to just 'settle' and just take the path of least resistance. I have no idea what my outward projection was, but from what I can tell it was a totally different thing than what was going on inside. (This is not a sob story just let me get this out before you come give me a hug.) I end up getting out of the Army through a loop hole that will guarantee my Honorable Discharge (trust me in the early 90's before Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and holding a Top Secret security clearance this is a MAJOR plus) and end up making new friends. Life progresses.

So let's back up a little. Not to sound conceited but I was always a smart kid, curious, I wanted to know how things worked. Not the most co-ordinated of kids, but loved to be outside playing as much as sitting in the house reading a book. I remember the times Dad took me into work (Electronics Technician in the Navy) and he and a friend would show me how to tear down a radio or a radar rack and then they would watch me do it on my own. (Always ensuring I didn't electrocute myself or cause damage to their test systems.) On the times I got stuck they would show me again what to do from that point and then reset the failure and have me try again. Showing me what to do and explaining why and the theory as I went. I'll also credit and love forever my Aunt (Anut) Kathy who never would allow cable TV into her house. "You're better off reading a book than watching TV" she'd tell me. My parents read, and I read. Aunt Kathy would question me about the books I've read or what I was currently reading. It wasn't a 'test' it was a conversation. She'd ask me about the story, characters, what I thought, etc. One AMAZING person that the world lost WAY TOO SOON.

So anyway there I am. More a 'geek' than a 'jock'. I went from 5'4" and weighing prolly close to 175lbs when I was 12 to 6'2" and weighing just about 100 lbs by 14. The dramatic loss of weight and gain of height left me really uncoordinated. Sports were hell, my body would not do what I saw others doing and they laughed, so I avoided them at all costs. (I'm about 96.7% positive that anyone still reading this can identify with a good chunk of what I'm saying.)

You meet the person you are supposed to meet when you need to meet them. I firmly believe this as it has played out again and again in my life. (Blaine and Darrell to name but two.) From that skinny kid in Great Lakes, IL to the man that loved and learned from my partner (if even for the brief 18 months we had together.) Ronnie I am the man I have always been destined to become. A man that proudly supports our military and is in awe of the History unfolding infront of me. Ronnie served in the Navy, and I served in the Army, had we been allowed to serve openly and proudly would we have ever met?

Think on that as I close this post. Prolly one of the main things that spurred this post. As always I send my love and energy to you all {*********************}