Thursday, May 8, 2014

Opinionated? Sure, but who isn’t?

My strongest opinion is clearly directed towards same-sex marriage. I came out at fifteen, it was the late nineties and gay marriage wasn’t even on the radar. Growing up in Lewiston, Maine, a very French-Canadian town with a low tolerance for those who are ‘different’ from the norm, my teen years weren’t easy.

I always knew that I was different and I was proud of myself for who I was becoming. I never based my opinions on what others thought of me, never tried to hide who I was, until I joined the military.

Military life, prior to the repeal of DADT, was not the easiest nor the most appealing thing I have ever experienced. I was constantly being silenced because of a piece of paper that I signed stating that I am not gay.  I remember this piece of paper, 11x17 size 10pt font, seems like there were 100 different places I had to initial. Each time my pen met the paper, I could feel the knot in my gut tightening. Part of me questioned what the hell I was doing, while the other part of me knew this is where I needed to go. I needed to throw myself into an uncomfortable position to challenge myself. Maybe, in the back of my mind, I was really wanting to also challenge others.

Inevitably, I couldn’t hide who I was. I ended up receiving a general discharge under honorable conditions, my dd-214 stating, “Separation due to homosexual admissions”. To be completely honest, it doesn’t bother me to have this documented, however depending on what I want to do with my future, this could cost me a career. A second career to be more specific.

Now, I’m not trying to say that I’ve been through hell and back, but it was a hell that I had to live through. It was an experience that helped make me stronger, more opinionated and more ready to fight.

What makes me any less of a person than the straight woman sitting beside me? Why should she be allowed to have her husband visit her in the hospital if a tragedy occurs, yet I am forced to face it alone? Why should she be able to stand up in front of her family and friends and form a legal bond with the one she loves? Why am I the one left sitting in the audience watching others share their happiness, wondering when the world will wake up and allow equal rights for us all? Why is some arrogant prick in the back woods of the bible belt holding up the rest of the country from moving forward?

Luckily, same sex marriages have been left up to the state level, but there is still such a long way to go. I can get married in my home state of Maine, but if I wanted to go live near my mother in Arizona, I can kiss my LGBTQ rights goodbye.

We live in a free country, yet when I cross state lines my legal rights change significantly. The worst part, all I’ve done to be an outcast is show that I am capable of loving another human being.