Posted by: Catherine Lugg | September 21, 2010

Lady Gaga and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

It looks like the Senate may vote today on a new defense bill. Within that bill is a provision that would end the ban on queers “openly” serving in the US Military.

When “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” was originally enacted in 1993, it was supposed to allow semi-closeted gay men, bisexual women and men, and lesbians to serve in the military. However, as implemented, it has been a merely updated version of the old total ban on queers serving, period. The “don’t pursue” clause was instantly forgotten and the witch hunts have continued a pace, with queers continuing to serve in fear and silence.

What has also happened in the last 17 years is the world has changed. GSAs are increasingly common in US public high schools–one of the favorite recruiting grounds for the military. Furthermore, the under 30 year old set has NO patience whatsoever with homophobia, particularly if it is INSTITUTIONAL homophobia.

Which brings me to Lady Gaga. When “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was passed, there were very few queer celebs who were OUT. Even Melissa Etheridge was still playing “reindeer games” about her orientation. “Outing” closeted queers–particularly those who were rhetorically and literally in bed with homophobes–was seen as something horrible (although I approved then and I still approve). Since then, many anti-queer laws have tumbled (see Lawrence v. Texas), and increasingly queers may even get married, although more than half of all US states ban “gay marriage.” American culture has become far more tolerant of out queers, hence, not only can Lady Gaga be “out” as a bisexual women, she can actively campaign against anti-queer laws with no career concerns at all.

That said, I doubt the Senate will vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The GOP and many parts of the Democratic Party (see President Obama) still bow down to homophobia. But for this aging queer, I take great joy in the younger generation. They will need to focus their energies insuring that the homophobic pols pay a steep price for their homophobia. Then, and only then, will “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” go the way of the old laws banning inter-racial marriage.


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