Last summer my
wife and I realized a longtime ambition: We mounted a Los
Angeles production of my play Bluebonnet Court, a
World War II-era lesbian love story about a New
York reporter who finds sex and segregation alive and
well while stranded in a dusty Texas town.
We played to
sold-out crowds, got great reviews, and won honors including
two NAACP Theatre Awards. And in March, Bluebonnet
Court received the GLAAD Media Award for
Outstanding Los Angeles Theater.
outlets didn't cover that GLAAD award.
But the Army did.
graduate of the Defense Information School, or DINFOS,
trainer of all U.S. military P.R. people, journalists,
and broadcasters. And now, I--a faggy-butch,
cross-dressing lesbian and proud veteran of the armed
forces--have become one of the "DINFOS
luminaries." The school's alumni Web
site, DINFOS.net--admittedly not an official Defense
Department site--says so, proudly proclaiming me
among "some of the most recognizable people in
Shock and awe,
Mary: I write about gay folks--the people Gen. Peter
Pace considers immoral. And as an openly gay woman,
I'm not fit, by federal law, to wear an Army
uniform. Yet I'm a "DINFOS luminary"?
There's a wee disconnect here.
Make no mistake,
I am delighted to be a DINFOS alumna, and I appreciate
the press. In fact, the site also features a separate item
on my book, Secret Service: Untold Stories of
Lesbians in the Military--an indictment
of the military's pointless and destructive
"don't ask, don't tell"
policy--trumpeting it as winner in 2006 of
ForeWord Magazine's Best Gay/Lesbian
Nonfiction Book of the Year award. There's even
a link to Amazon.com for easy purchase.
sales to the Pentagon pick up.
But back for a
moment to Bluebonnet Court. The central theme of
the play is the importance of being honest with
oneself--what we gain by being truthful, by
facing reality, and what we lose when we fail to do
so. So let's be honest: The "don't ask,
don't tell" policy is based on
long-disproved psychoanalytic theories of the
"homosexual" as inherently sick and
unreliable and as such preserves prejudice, not military
Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a
mental disorder in 1973. But the Army, Navy, Air Force, and
Marines continue to call us unfit--despite all
the evidence to the contrary.
Lesbians and gay
men serve and have served proudly and well in all
branches of the American armed forces (and openly in the
militaries of many of our allies). There are about 1
million LGBT vets in the United States and 65,000 gay,
lesbian, and bi troops on active duty at any given
time, according to a 2004 study by the Urban Institute
(using 2000 Census figures).
We often are
uncommonly dedicated-- the sharpest troops, earning
the highest performance evaluations. We neither
disrupt "good order and discipline" nor
impair "unit cohesion." The real bar to good
order and discipline, the real destroyer of unit
cohesion--a fact well-documented but continually
denied--is prejudice along with the bad behaviors,
including harassment and violence, that it promotes.
And the price tag
of prejudice? Conservatively, nearly $200 million
taxpayer dollars in the last decade alone, according to the
U.S. Government Accountability Office in a report
issued in 2005.
But the real cost
of "don't ask, don't tell"
isn't measured in dollars alone. The true cost
of any policy is what we sacrifice as a nation in
order to have it. With "don't ask,
don't tell," we're sacrificing our
dearest ideals of fairness, equality, and justice for all.
And that is a
story the major media outlets should cover.