My Dad was what might be called an “Equal Opportunity Hater,” by which I mean that he hated EVERYBODY, including blacks and most other ethnic groups. But he had an odd sense of fair play: He felt that it was OK to hate anyone he wanted to as long as he didn’t DO anything about it. In other words, he felt that even people he disapproved of should be given their civil rights. The recent statement by Admiral Mike Mullen about gays in the military reminded me of this.
I remember once when a rumor went around that a black family was about to buy a house in our modest suburban neighborhood. A group of men got together to pool their money and purchase the house, in order to prevent the black people from moving in, but my Dad would have nothing to do with it. What made him different from most people who would do the same thing today is that he felt absolutely no need to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood.
I’m sure he hated gays as well, although nobody talked about homosexuality in those days: The entire subject was in the closet. I do remember one of the few pieces of advice he ever gave me though. He told me not to have anything to do with the kind of guys who went in for bodybuilding, because they were not “really men.” This was strange advice for a prepubescent little girl, and it was only later that I realized he was talking about gay guys.
He himself was no bodybuilder. He had hairy, bowed legs and flat feet, meaning that he walked with a knees-out waddle, as well as a huge paunch that hung over his belt. Once when he was mowing the front lawn in swim trunks, a neighbor called the police and asked them to tell him to desist because he was such an eyesore, something that infuriated him!
This reminded me of the statement made by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, 3 years ago, when he said, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.”
In contrast with this, Mullen said, “I have served with homosexuals since 1968,” and added that his views have evolved “cumulatively” and “personally” ever since.
I remembered when we went to sign books at the Texas Intrepid Center, which was created especially for Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have had limbs blown off by IEDs (improvised explosive devices, i.e. roadside bombs). We noticed that some of the female nurses and therapists there had women’s names tattooed on their arms, leading me to assume that these were lesbians who were wearing their girlfriends’ names. I’m sure the male (and female) soldiers there were glad the military hadn’t kicked these dedicated people out for being gay.
Male sailors used to have their girlfriend’s names tattooed on their biceps. This could cause problems with a new girlfriend, so the smart ones stuck to tattoos of “Mother.”
These ladies have yet to learn this, but I’m glad they’ll have the chance, and Dad would have agreed.
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