It'd be a shame if the employees I supervise didn't go to strip clubs together.

[Trigger warning for homophobia]

This news cycle the media is revisiting "the other side" of Don't Ask, Don't Tell-- the large minority of military personnel that aren't so hot on teh gayz.

In a sense, the stories annoy me: The military's got combat troops who the Defense Department has selected to not be women or (openly) homosexual and bisexual men, and the military's cultivated that bigotry with official policy. We're supposed to be surprised that a little more than half of these troops are bigots? All-and-all, I'd say I'm more impressed by the just less than half of those troops that are supportive of a more inclusive military.

I see why this is an important story, however. The selected quotes I hear from selected troops give a glimpse of a culture that has to either change or collapse under the weight of its contradictions.

Here are some real winners from a story that ran yesterday in The New York Times:

"There’s no doubt in my mind that openly gay Marines can serve, it’s just different in a combat unit. Maybe they should just take the same route they take with females and stick them to noncombat units.”

And we're off!

"Concerns about the ability of combat units to integrate openly gay troops has also been raised repeatedly by the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, who told reporters recently that having gay Marines in combat units would be a 'distraction.'

'Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives,' General Amos said."

Uh-huh. Distractions like bigotry.

“Showers will be awkward”

Do tell. I don't take showers with in public places (mostly because I don't want to get arrested). That makes it pretty awkward for me. I don't really care how awkward/educational/hawt is the for anyone else. Don't mind me, I'm mostly about cleaning my epidermis.

“Being gay means you are kind of girly. The Marines are, you know, macho.”

Totes! We want macho, macho men in the Marines, not some sort of overplayed gay stereotype. By the way, if gay means you are kind of girly, what does that say about lesbians on the front lines? I guess I already know the answer to that one-- women are all diminutive and weak. They all totes cry like some sort of Boehner.

“'They were kicking people out for being homosexual, and now they will be kicking people out for picking on homosexuals,' [an anonymous] sergeant said."

I think that's the idea. I know it's confusing, but so is war.

"An Army officer who is now leading troops in Afghanistan said he expected that swift and stern disciplinary measures would stamp out harassment. But he said he still anticipated that many openly gay soldiers would feel alienated at first from their straight colleagues.

'They will not be going to all of the events, strip clubs and bars that the other soldiers attend, and soldiers will almost certainly not be going out of their way to sample the gay culture.'"

Sure, good point. Gay soldiers might feel uncomfortable in a workplace where going to strip clubs was an expectation. This could be a problem. Also: You have got to be fucking kidding me.

I'm not sure what sampling the gay culture entails. I'm thinking of using tongs to sift pull a John Waters video out of a vat of glitter, but maybe I'm wrong. I guess it for some gay guys it might involve getting together with a bunch of guys to watch the game and then taking your pickup trucks out to play paintball. You know, gay guy stuff.

This whole "culture" thing strikes me as an issue. You've got a group of people who are living and working together in a stressful environment. There's going to be a culture. One would think that focusing on one's job, one's role as part of a team, and respecting one's colleagues would be part of that culture.

Yes, there are going to be cliques, but in my experience in healthy, successful communities people are allowed to express their differences as long as those differences do not directly conflict with the mission. Perhaps this has never been a strong point for a military that strikes me as suppressing diversity in the name of protecting freedom. Which is a minor problem when one starts unpacking the whole "protecting freedom" thing.

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