Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Terror was everywhere on a Pacific island during World War II where United States Marines were scattered among small foxholes. To leave those holes in the sand for any reason meant certain death. Fanatic Japanese soldiers were of another mind. They were determined to kill Marines one way or the other. Survivors of one such night were destined to remember forever the plaintive scream of a young Marine who called out repeatedly “Mother...Mother... he's killing me....he's killing me.”
I thought of that Marine's shriek in the night when the massacre in the Orlando gay club took place. How many of the slaughtered in that ballroom were thinking of their own mothers and imminent death? Not the same? Oh yes, it is. It has to be time in Hell for anybody about to be murdered.
Then I thought of the evolution in my own time concerning homosexuality. It was a narrow perspective, way long before my generation ever heard the words “bisexual”, “transsexual” and other descriptions now part of our common vocabulary. Back then there were “homos,” “fags”, “queers” and “fairies”. Minority, strange people.
The military took a firm posture. From induction to virtually every stage of advancement in that culture, there were questions about participation or feelings about same sex. As a brand new lieutenant taking command of an Army platoon I was informed that a sergeant, highly prized for his proficiency, was going to be discharged from the service. His offense? During off-duty hours he frequented a homosexual nightclub and danced as part of the entertainment. Homosexual? Case closed.
Then followed a period in New York City where my career had me working with gay people in the creative community. There were lots of them. Many, not all, were brilliant people. Now, some 60 years later, I reflect on all of it. What happened? There are a hundred reasons, I guess. But does it really matter if it is one, ten or a hundred? It is what it is.
Seems to me that we don't have to give up anything, except hate. For me, I believe in a man and a woman joined in marriage to bring new lives into this world. You don't have to agree with me. I don't have to agree with you if you hold same sex marriage a priority. But we sure have to respect the view of each other. Otherwise, we are killing ourselves.