The DADT mentality

A year ago, I had no idea what Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) was. I'm sure I'd heard something about it somewhere along the line, but I had never looked into it. So, as much as it's been in the news lately, I've been thinking about it quite a bit. For those that don't know, it is the policy that non-straight people are not allowed to disclose their sexual orientation while serving in the military.  This post, however, is not merely about DADT (which, it seems safe to say, is all but gone) but more about the mindset behind that sort of legislation in our society.

The first thing I'd like to muse about is the motivation behind ever having established the policy in the first place. Personally, having never been straight, I can't say I understand but I would like to speculate. Perhaps the idea is that in denying non-straight people the right to disclose their orientation, you also deny them the ability to have any other orientation than straight. Perhaps the thought of a fellow service man or woman of the same sex being attracted to you is so repulsive that you'd rather not know of the attraction.

Humor me while I muse about the former possibility. There does seem to be a certain misconception among our society that if sexual orientation is not discussed then options other than straight are not available. That is to say, if a gay person is not allowed to say that he is gay then he cannot be gay. This is actually a very primal instinct--a stage of development prior to what psychologists call "object permanency". An infant, up to a certain age, is incapable of the concept that an object can simultaneously exist and not be perceived. In other words, if a baby is playing with a toy and then that toy is hidden from the baby's view, the baby perceives that the toy no longer exists. That seems to be the mentality here--where concealment and non-existence are perceived to coincide. If we do not allow people to announce their sexual orientation, then it must by default be heterosexual.

It is also perhaps due to the misconception that sexual orientation is mutable. Certainly, there have been people who claim to have changed from one sexual orientation to another, through extreme personal effort, therapy, or faith. I see no reason to preclude the possibility of mutability in some people, since it is evident that people's tastes change over the years (even if a person remains straight his whole life, it's not unheard of for him to like brunettes at one point of life and prefer blondes at another stage of life). However, the misconception is that those who are gay chose at some point in their life to be gay, which is entirely false. But, the point is that if those who were responsible for initiating DADT believed that orientation is mutable and that heterosexuality is preferable, then that would be motivation to initiate the policy.

Lastly, I wish to address the offensive and arrogant notion that heterosexuality is preferable.  I often hear people say things such as "suffering from same-sex attraction".  I do not suffer from same-sex attraction.  I have never at any point in my life suffered from my same-sex attractions.  I have suffered; however, that suffering has not been from the attraction itself but from the conflict within me caused by being taught that my own natural feelings were evil.  Therefore, I have suffered from heterosexism, but not homosexuality.  I have undergone no more suffering from being homosexual than a straight person undergoes for being heterosexual.  The mere suggestion that homosexuals are "suffering" from some sort of condition implies that it is preferable to be heterosexual.  I reject this premise.  I do not believe that any one sexual orientation is preferable to another.  Yes, copulation is only possible between people of the opposite sex.  But, even if sexual orientation were a choice and everyone in the entire population chose to be gay, society would perpetuate itself.  The will to live--to perpetuate one's own species--is very strong.

Finally, I just wanted to point out the ridiculousness of DADT.  Forbidding gay people from being open about their sexual orientation is just as ridiculous as forbidding women from being open about the fact that they are female.  DADT is fully equivalent of asking all female military personnel to hide the fact that they are women.  But, just for the sake of completely exposing the ridiculous nature of this measure, let us assume the (rather false) premise that sexual orientation is a choice--that is, let us believe that everyone is capable of choosing their own sexual orientation and changing it at any moment.  In that case, DADT is equivalent to forbidding those whose favorite music is country from being able to let anyone else know their taste in music--not allowing them to listen to country music except when in private, and not allowing them to tell anyone else serving in the military that they enjoy listening to country music.  A ban on music altogether would make more sense, but DADT does not ban disclosure of sexual orientation for all, only for those who are not straight.  Therefore, whether sexual orientation is a choice or not (and it certainly is not), DADT makes no sense.