Navy Sailors Fight Back Against Homophobia

navyYesterday, one of my other admins shared this picture on my page, Politically Preposterous, that was originally posted by the U.S. Navy. As you can see, it’s of a Navy sailor proposing to his boyfriend. The caption on the picture was: “The five things that you need to know about the Department of Defense (DOD)’s plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses,” and included a link to the Navy’s blog, Navy Live, with the information. I clicked on the picture, which brought me to the U.S. Navy’s official Facebook page and noticed immediately that a lot of the initial comments on the photo (from both service-people and civilians) were homophobic, intolerant, and just plain disgusting.

But, there was a silver lining on the black cloud of bigotry. Both heterosexual and homosexual sailors started to comment back, defending their brothers and sisters in arms, and attempting to shut down those perpetuating homophobia against military members. I will refer to the sailors by their first name and last initial rather than by their full name in order to protect their privacy, but the outpouring of support for gay and lesbian sailors by their brethren was overwhelming.

Here is a round-up:

Marvin S.: “Some of the comments here really bother me. I am a Chief Petty Officer stationed on board the USS Gridley in San Diego and I can assure you that we have a strong Navy with our goal of free of discrimination no matter if you are gay or straight, black or white, and no matter where you have came from. We have a Sailor who is gay in our department and he is one of the most hard working Sailors that I have met. I invite you on board our ship anytime. Your comments make me sick.”

Rob S.: “As a Naval Submarine Officer who has been to sea for months at a time with straight AND gay sailors, I am here to tell you there is no difference between them. Believe it or not, the gay sailors are just as hard working, professional and intelligent as the straight ones and I am proud to go to sea with both.”

Jeremiah S.: “I’m proud to say I’m serving in the military, I’m gay and in the Navy, in fact I work on the same waterfront as to where this picture was taken… Hooyah sailors!”

Lora H.: “I’m ashamed to have served in the Navy with so many hateful sailors like yourselves. If you don’t like “what the Navy has become” then get out. You won’t be missed.”

Don S.: “I’m a Navy veteran and I think it’s about time this happened. I could really care less what a guys sexual preference is. If he is serving his country he’s a great sailor. If I was still in I would be proud to serve with them!”

Michael T.: “I’ve been reading the comments on this pic. Those of you who find this disgusting should be ashamed of yourselves. This sailor is our shipmate and we should be supporting him. If it were a woman he was proposing to we would be congratulating him. Why the double standard? I know in the future you will look back on this and see that you were on the wrong side of history, just like those people who beat up blacks for sitting in the “whites only” section of a restaurant. This isn’t just about tolerance, it’s about being a decent human being. If you call yourselves “christian” you should start acting the way Jesus advised. He never said anything about hating others, but he did say a lot about loving your neighbor. Get over your closed-minded bigotry or keep it to yourselves. Those of us in the 21st century don’t want to hear your 18th century opinion.”

Andrew Y.: “Proud to serve alongside my brothers and sisters. Gay or straight.”

Bryan C.: “If you’re retired stay that way. If your active duty, stay flexible and open to change. Our whole career is defined by constant change. These men and women sweat and bleed just like we all do. If you have never been in the military, this service member is much braver than you sitting behind your keyboard.”

Cari G.: “I’m appalled at the people on here. Saying things like this is a disgrace to the uniform, you’re a disgrace to the United States if you feel that way. I’m proud to serve with anyone who chooses to wear this uniform. So everyone who is too small minded you need to wake the hell up. Everyone has the right to live their lives how they want to and how dare you judge them for it.”

Jamal J.: “Hooyah to my shipmates; hetero or homo, that protect my life.”

Fawn N.: “I served in the US Air Force for 8 years and I’m proud and happy that the fine gay airmen I worked with will no longer have to hide like criminals.”

Jasen H.: “As an active duty Submariner I’m happy that my community is tolerant and smart enough to know that a good sailor is good regardless of his sexual preference. This NEW MEXICO sailor is doing what makes him happy and exercising his RIGHTS. Submarines: 100 men go down, 1 family comes up.”

This goes on for awhile and I’m not going to post all of them. Suffice to say if your interested in reading all the comments you can head over to the Navy’s Facebook page (link above) and do so yourself. However, I figure I will end with this one from Eric P., because it’s my favorite:

“What do you people mean “Not my Navy?” and “I’m not proud to be a sailor?” You’re not the only one in the Navy and maybe there are straight people who are a part of it that don’t mind. Is it their Navy, too, or still just yours? And you’re no longer proud to be a sailor? What the hell? Being a sailor is part of who you are, not part of someone else. Being in the Navy is based on being able to work with other people, living with other people, maybe people you don’t really like or care for, but when the time comes, you work with them anyway. If you don’t like this or who they are, than that’s great, except no one really cares. This only gets so much publicity because so many people are against it. If no one cared, like heterosexual relationships and divorce and other things like that, it wouldn’t get this much attention. Why go out of your way to post negative things about this? Do you think you’re gonna change it? Why do you care? They don’t effect the way you live and work. He could be the best sailor the Navy has ever had…why should we care and who are we to judge his personal life since he’s not hurting anyone? I am a Midshipmen with all of the intentions of being an officer and if I have men and women under me who are homosexual, I couldn’t care less as long as they do their jobs and duties. That is what it comes down to.”

Kudos to these soldiers for standing up for their fellow servicemen and women and for what is right. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Ilyssa Fuchs

Ilyssa Fuchs is an attorney, freelance writer, and activist from New York City, who holds both a juris doctor and a political science degree. She is the founder of the popular Facebook page Politically Preposterous and a blog of the same name. Follow Ilyssa on Twitter @IlyssaFuchs, and be sure to check out her archives on Forward Progressives as well!

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  • Theresa Hyndman

    As a veteran of the Navy, I support this page!

  • sfwmson

    I don’t suppose a sea men joke would be appropriate?

    • pauleky

      Really?

    • Chomper Lomper Tawee

      Cum on — that’s a bit much

    • TheStumblingBlock

      Yeah, it’s a bit much to swallow.
      *ducks and runs*

      • sfwmson

        No need to duck and run—keep a stiffy upper lip, is all.

  • Colleen O’Neill

    Not in the Navy, never was in the service…………my apologies, but I loved this post. We are all….just we. Who we are to judge anyone else.

  • MMC/SS

    Served with such a variety of people. Made me a better person. As long as you worked well and had your shippies back we didn’t worry about any thing. Glad policy finally caught up with how it’s been done for the last 20 years.

  • stef fernald

    I’m an ARMY veteran who served under REAGAN. I came out, but had to “stay in the proverbial closet” in1986. I TOTALLY SUPPORT YOU! all the haters can take their personal firearms and go stand on the front lines.

    • Larry Dillon

      I served in the Army from ’86-’90 as well. I too was in the closet but because of fantastic straight and gay buddies I had while I was in I had the courage to come out once I left the military. I’ve always said it would not be the issue the nuts thought it would be. The numbers and demographics stand with us.

  • Anna Maria

    I support the gays because they’re just like us and I honestly don’t see why people have to be cruel to them….they’re people who want to do what’s right. Leave them alone! Let them serve our country, they deserve it!

  • haloadora

    Every comment on this so far makes me proud to be an American – and congrats to this couple!

  • Richard H

    As someone who has never served in the military, I want to thank ALL the men and women who serve or have served this great country. I don’t care what race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation you are. If you are serving in any branch of our military you deserve our respect and appreciation. R

    • kempsternyc

      As someone who served in the 80’s and stayed in the closet until 13 years ago….AWESOME!!!!!!

  • Katie

    Anyone else getting the Village People song “In The Navy” stuck in their head?

    • BackSeatJesus

      Great. Now I am.

    • TheStumblingBlock

      Awesome song for an awesome article about the most awesome thing of all… the end of bigoted laws and the birth of acceptance.

  • NiteInJail

    The haters are driving good people to stop being silent… their hate has gotten so toxic that unless you outright hate homosexuals it’s impossible to stand by and listen to their bile and ignorance… Thank you haters for getting the majority off their silence and onto the side of freedom, equality and protecting their brothers and sisters.

    • TheStumblingBlock

      Ooooh! Well said. I like you!

    • Amy Moon River

      Now if people would only do that with all social issues…

  • Stokes

    I served and am a disabled vet and I frankly don’t give a damn. If you can find someone who makes you happy and is willing to walk through life with you then go for it, gay, straight what does it matter.

  • Doc Smith

    I am a Retired Navy Corpsman and I served my country as a Gay man, I am so glad that sailors and solders alike can be out and not looking over their shoulders. I am so happy to be able to get my husband a dependent ID card

  • Ron Engel

    I like all the “what has the Navy become” comments. As though there haven’t been gays in the military for as long as there has been a military.

  • Shelley

    Gays have been serving in the armed forces for so many years. Those who don’t like gays probably don’t realize that they served with them – only now they can come out and say it. Nothing more. It has always been the same Army, Navy, Marines and those who live with intolerance probably can’t even fathom that their ship/bunk/team mates were gay. I encourage them to realize that the people they served with…were the same fucking people that are now serving. Only difference is a few words are allowed now, that were not allowed before.

  • robert

    this was a very good read. its nice to see the support we are receiving in and out of a uniform. there is a new war on the rise as i write this. dear adolph putin , god of russia has a war against homosexuality that is gaining speed. this is the 21 century and his actions should not be supported in anyway. i think its sad that others will have to suffer but we need to stand against this man and boycott the 2014 winter olypics. my husband and i have been married and together for over 15 years. we have surpassed the national average of the longevity of a heterosexual marriage. should we appoligize for that……….. not all gay men are drag queens or effeminate. but to each his own. im 95 percent me and 5 percent,,,,,,,,,,,,,none of you business. although its not always easy……..im happy to be living MY life and not one that a biggot has chosen for me to make his miserable life look better.
    thanks
    robert

    • Tyler Terrell

      Instead of boycotting the Olympics, we should be writing letters to the Olympic council that we are concerned for the safety of gay men and women (both athletes and spectators) who travel to Russia for the games. The Olympics don’t have to be held there – if there is a perceived threat to the safety of the event it can be moved.

      I think that would be a far worse blow than simply boycotting it. Putin loves sports. If his own intolerance drives the games out of his country, it will cost them all that revenue from having them held there, and obviously it would be a black mark on their history.

  • Emiel Mostert

    Hatred is only shown by those who are trying extremely hard to oppress their own homosexual feelings. Come on boys get out of your closet and start having a life of your own, not of a life you think people want to see. No, I am not gay, I do prefer woman; but that is my choice in life; of which I also hope people respect, as I respect their choice, even when it is different.

    • pauleky

      It’s your “choice in life?” Really? When did you choose to be hetero? C’mon folks – it is not a choice or a preference. It is an orientation.

      • Yet_Another_Steve

        Pauleky, there’s a time to nitpick and a time to say “thank you.” Best not to confuse them.

  • Ron Webb

    I had the privilege of seeing my brother retire last December on the U.S.S Missouri after 30 year’s of service in the Navy . He was a CWO5 I can assure you he did not care what any sailors sexual preferance was just that he or she was a competent sailor able to uphold the navel code and do their job.the so called Christians and hate mongers of the world since you love to bring God into your hate filled rhetoric remember when you meet him you will have to answer for your intolerance and less than spiritual actions

  • SgtMK

    When I joined the army in 1970 it was the first time I’d ever had to spend time with black people. When we first started boot camp I bristled at being assumed equal to the people I had always been raised to think of as different and lesser. I can tell you that by the time we were finished my mind started to change and during 30 years of service I realized how wrong I was and am ashamed of the things I said when I was a kid. Serving with people of all backgrounds made me a better person and I thank the army for exposing me to the truth that the measure of the man is if he is willing to stand up when the sh*t goes down. Nothing else matters. I retired in 2000 and yes, I served with gay people. No difference between them other than they put even more at risk to be there than most of the men.

  • andrew

    I have no problem with gas im in the army im just upset they took the rainbow from the straight man. but I am proud to serve with whom ever chooses to wear the uniform!

    • Z

      Gays did not take anything from anyone lol the rainbow stands for so many different things to different people feel free to continue to enjoy it.

      • andrew

        it was just a joke man I will always enjoy it. but I do support these guys congrats to these gentleman!

  • Kathy Agel

    To all of you, gay, straight, or somewhere in between, who served or are serving now — THANK YOU!

  • cantake8

    Good on the sailors who took a stand for fairness and decency. What is with all the hateful attitudes? Even the “Redneck Comic” Larry The Cable Guy said of gays and lesbians getting married: “It doesn’t affect my marriage one bit. People need to learn to mind their own business.”

  • Phil

    i am a gay dad and my son recently medically retired as an HM-1 (Medical Corpsman). Now he isn’t gay he has four kids, but he was a strong advocate for his gay shipmates in the bad DADT years.

    Those who don’t want gays in the Navy might want to ask themselves this: if you were wounded would you want a gay corpsman, or a straight corpsman to treat you? You wouldn’t care; you would want a US NAVY CORPSMAN to help you. My son would have been therefor you no matter who you are and if I were a corpsman (I was in the AF so…not) I would too.
    AND THAT”S ALL YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT.