It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I know many of us our enjoying the extended weekend, the cookouts and friends and family.
I just wanted to post a blog about how I am feeling right now, considering all the news making the rounds in the world today. As a lesbian, we feel the brunt of the fear and pain and worry surrounding the words and beliefs being bandied about in the news lately and being put in front of legislature under the guise of one thing or the other. All ultimately trying to narrowly define our nation as one type of belief system, one truth, and one set of laws over another. None of them good for women.
I am writing today because I see page after page of thank you’s—thank you for serving, for being in the military, for being willing to sacrifice all so that we can have freedom in America. Meanwhile at home, I hear how gays are the root of all evil, are the downfall of our society, and that we are going to hell and taking everyone with us. It is disheartening…and makes me want to scream back at those sign holders and tell them exactly who I am and what I have done. Shame does not work on these people, they cannot see past their own hate, but I will try my best here to tell you what and who we are. We are not solely defined by our sexuality…the only reason who I love matters is because accepting who I am let me find somebody to love. That is all there is to it.
So, as a veteran and a nurse, I will tell you who I am and you can tell me how this makes me evil, a follower of Satan, the reason there is flood and famine in the world!
I am the person who stood up and raised my right hand and swore to protect my country…to shed my blood, if need be…so you can tell me I am wrong.
I am the person who could not put my faith on my dog-tags because it was not recognized by the military when I served.
I am the person who stood watch while you slept, and who had loved ones at home who never knew if I was coming home.
I am the person who could never greet my partner at the pier when coming home, because I was bound by DOMA and don’t ask/don’t tell.
I am the person who, if I perished overseas, worried that my family would take everything away from my chosen life partner because they hated who I was, but would be thrilled to take all we had accrued together.
As a nurse, I saw the best and worst of mankind. The drug addicts, the ones wasted by disease, the alone and the bereft. Some hated the world and took it out on those around them, some had been abandoned by their families.
I am the one that dressed their wounds and gave them solace in the night, who eased their pain and held their hand when their families stopped visiting.
I am the one who family members turned to when they had to make that difficult decision…to let a loved one suffer or let them go.
I am the last one some looked upon before they closed their eyes for the last time and the one who cleaned them up and placed them in a bag to go to the morgue.
I am the one who bore the brunt of family member’s anger when we could not save their loved one, despite the fact that everything was done to bring them back from their disease, their addiction, their violence against themselves.
You see, Memorial Day to me is about those who sacrifice…and give of themselves so that others feel secure in their homes and lives. That they will be safe and that someone will come to their aid and protect them. It isn’t about steaks on the grill, family arguments and drinking beer. It is about the soldiers standing guard and the flags populating the cemeteries of our dead. It is about our wounded, the ones who have been abandoned and left afraid inside their own head.
I am a veteran who served when serving meant hiding who I was and not being able to show the world who I loved. I am immensely proud of our progress in the United States. I know military members who are openly gay and getting married soon, who will have the protection and safety net that I did not, and it makes me feel wonderful inside.
It saddens me that this progress is marred by those who have only one vision of the world. A vision so narrow it has no room for anyone else. You see, some of those who feel this way, who think that the concept of me as a lesbian is so foul…those have been the people I was sworn to protect…and those have been the people I have sat with and held their hand while they cried out in fear. It was not my place to tell them my beliefs were not theirs, or that I was gay and married to another woman. In those moments…it did not matter. I was the one there for them, no one else…just like thousands of others who do my job…some of them gay like me.
I am not my sexual orientation. I am not a bad person, nor the one that will destroy what we have accomplished here in this great nation.
I salute all our brothers and sisters in the armed forces…all of our police and fireman, and yes…our medical care providers for being there. There will always be front lines…and always be those willing to step forward, I cannot emphasis how much they mean to us as a people.