Category Archives: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

January 10, 2013, 9:20 am

Department of Fluff: Cultural Studies Fun With British People

Margaret “Daisy” Suckley is on the far left. Photo credit.

This has been Mass Market British Culture Week at chez Radical (perhaps tomorrow we will have an Austin Powers festival.) So far we have been:

A Day Late and a Pound Short. Monday I watched the first episode of Downton Abbey, Season Three, broadcast on Sunday. It clocked in at almost two hours, which was a bit like lying on the couch eating salt water taffy for the evening. I can’t tell you anything very specific about the episode because I am sure there are people out there who have not watched it yet.  I do have a few comments:

  • Memories of the class warfare theme from #election2012 are still vivid. This may be why I was particularly struck by how the series has settled in to an utterly specious and ahistorical fantasy about the harmonious…

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October 20, 2012, 9:42 am

Queer Choices: Marriage Equality At The Crossroads

A change is gonna come.

Ballot initiatives determining the future of marriage equality loom in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, while Minnesotans will vote on banning gay marriage in their state. In these difficult times,  Madwoman with a Laptop (formerly known as The Typist at Roxie’s World) has posted yet another eloquent essay on the topic: “The Unbearable Weirdness of Being Voted On.”

Literate folk will be reminded of a famous essay that begins with this passage:

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel…

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October 13, 2012, 2:12 pm

What’s The Problem With Uncle Poodle? A Queer Southern Historian And Her Critics

A regular guy? Photo credit.

When is a poodle not a poodle? When that poodle is gay Uncle Poodle.

On the season finale of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a reality television show about the life and times of a seven year-old beauty pageant contestant in Georgia, some portion of the civilized world was introduced to Lee Thompson, Honey Boo Boo’s “Uncle Poodle.”  The rest of us learned about him in a New York Times op-ed piece by UNC – Charlotte cultural historian Karen Cox, most recently the author of Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2011). Perhaps in anticipation of National Coming Out Day, Cox used Uncle Poodle’s entrance onto the national stage as an opportunity to suggest that there is more than one way to be out and proud in America….

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December 22, 2010, 2:46 pm

To Those Who Tell Us Not To Celebrate The Repeal Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:” Ask Yourself Why People In Your Workplace Can’t Come Out, and What You Plan To Do About It

You might also want to take a little vacation from critique and let the rest of us enjoy the elimination of a law that went out its way to make life even more difficult for queer people, all in the name of progress. As for the killjoys who say that this won’t prevent gay and lesbian soldiers from being harassed in the military, I say: true.  BUT: why don’t you tell me a place where we actually are safe?  School perhaps?  The streets? At home?

Whether you believe in the military or not, and whether this is only part of the pie rather than the whole pie, shrinking the circle of legal stigma is a baby step to making this country a little more livable for everyone.

Photo credit.


December 20, 2010, 3:13 pm

This Is My Weapon, This Is My Gun: A Gay Primer For Worried Straights In The Military

“Simply because you’re near me, I’m in the mood for love!” Credit.

This is my rifle, this is my gun;
One is for fighting, one is for fun.
The Rifleman’s Creed, 1941

Want to know whether repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is good policy?  Why listen to the generals or the Secretary of Defense?  Go ask an expert — an 18 year-old boy in South Carolina.

In today’s Grey Lady, James Dao goes to Jacksonville, South Carolina to do just that.  Although a few young soldiers offered indifferent or positive responses to the question, “Would you want to share a foxhole with one?” (another version of, “Would you want your daughter to marry one?”) others are worried.  Among the memorable quotes are:

From an 18 year-old soldier who says he is socially comfortable with gays: “They won’t hold up well in combat.”

From a 22 year-old soldier who has served a tour in Afghanistan: “Coming from a combat unit, …

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December 19, 2010, 3:22 pm

Why Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Is Important, And What Remains To Be Done

Make love, not war?  Photo credit.

I am one of those lefty queers who is both anti-war and desired the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Noxious as war is, it is also my view that allowing forms of discrimination to be written into the law is neither a gift (“Yay, I am radically free from compulsory marriage!”) or a way to distance from the American war machine (“Yay! I’m not implicated in the American war machine, even though my consumer habits, my pension and the university that employs me depends on it!”)

In regard to this latter point:  think Bayard Rustin.  True, Bayard was not out as a gay man until very late in life, but he was very black, and he went to jail during World War II as a conscientious objector as a member of both the civil rights and anti-war movements.  I mention this both because he might have evaded service by announcing his homosexuality (although this would have…

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June 7, 2010, 1:21 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Disobey The President: Transforming The Military In Historical Perspective

We move forward into a summer of political negotiating that might end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Clinton-era policy that lifted the ban on gays in the military, provided said gays pretend to be straight (and, as an ironic touch, created a phrase popular among the sexually dishonest who claim to be in sophisticated open relationships when actually they are just cheating like everyone else.) Policy makers and GLBT lobbyists wishing to lift the ban might usefully consult Beth Bailey’s America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force (Harvard, 2009) as they consider how to present what is perceived by many to be an unprecedented alteration in the United States Armed Forces. As Bailey observes, the transition from the draft to an all-volunteer Army was a political decision made by the Nixon administration in 1970 that military brass resisted vigorously despite what they perceived as the…

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May 30, 2010, 11:59 am

Sunday Radical Roundup: (Don’t) Ask, (Don’t) Tell Memorial Day Edition

Congressional Dems Reach Down And Locate Their ‘Nads: Will long-standing legal discrimination against gay and lesbian service people be struck down this summer? We at Tenured Radical certainly hope so. Although we are more than ambivalent about armed conflict, we are not in the least ambivalent about the right to serve in the military without discrimination because of race, gender or sexual orientation. As Janet Halley argued years ago in Don’t: A Reader’s Guide To The Military’s Anti-Gay Policy (Duke, 1999), this has not been an overwhelmingly popular item for queer activism. The fight for marriage — by which overwhelmingly white, well-to-do queers confer rights and wealth on each other just like straight people — has been far more popular than the right to military service, which is often the path to citizenship, education and income for people who are working-class, immigrant …

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