i just read a headline saying the military is now accepting openly gay recruits and my first reaction was a faint sense of celebration. i sort of yay we did it! stirring in my gut, and then my second reaction was curiosity. curiosity about why i felt that something had been achieved. curiosity about what this meant. curiosity about how gays would react to it.
i grew up around gays. my mother was gay (sometimes). a lot of her friends were gay. it was a very normal thing in my household. there was never any stigma. never any awkward pauses or embarrassed laughter. as a child, the only difference i noticed between gays and straights was that gays only had lovers, where as straights had girlfriends boyfriends wives and husbands.
dont get me wrong, im not saying i was blind to sexual orientation. i knew there was a difference, and i knew i wasnt gay. what im saying is that there wasnt anything exotic about being gay. some people just were and others werent. just another element of nature.
my moms best friend was this guy named greg. he was a shy, doughy, clean cut man with pinkish cheeks and a effete way with his hands. he always wore a cheap pair of polyester slacks and a white collared shirt under a thin knit sweater. she'd knew him for years, since before i was born, i believe.
i recall him as being somewhat distant, and not very warm to me. i think he was sort of disgusted by the presence of young children, that he felt them a waste of space. they were unable to hold intelligent conversation, were always needy, and stole precious time from the short span of young adulthood. chiefly, his best friend, who he wanted all the attention from. but back then i was sort of indifferent towards him, and didnt crave any emotional response from him anyway. he was dull and quiet and never had anything interesting to say when he did speak. plus, he never brought any presents.
now though, that im probably older than he was then, i sort of understand why he was this way. sometimes my friends kids bug me too.
she had other best friends. there was this lesbian couple who were vegetarian and didnt shave their legs. one of them was tall and thin and always wore a baseball cap. her name was paula and she had one of those names that fit. to me, she looked exactly like a paula. i forget the others name but she was shorter and wore glasses and had a short, boyish haircut. she liked to read on the sun porch while eating yellow tomatoes picked from her garden. they were nice, and let us stay with them when we lost our place on haight street. my mom slept in them bed with them every night. i think they were a triple for a while.
in any case, im wondering what accepting openly gay recruits will do to the army. probably nothing. it'll just be the army, but a little more fabulous.