When I was enlisted, there were many occasions that reminded me I simply didn’t belong among many of the people I was surrounded by for no other reason than I just could not, and still cannot, relate to the majority of them.
Here’s one example of why.
Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell
I was enlisted during the early stages of DA;DT, a time when most old school NCOs referred to the Army derisively as “Clinton’s Army.”
At Fort Sill, one of my drill-sergeants loved to randomly ask recruits in his thick Hispanic accent, “Are you some kinda flamer???”
You know, drill-sergeants fucking with you to see if you’ll lose composure and react.
One time, after my platoon got their random ass-chewing and smoke-session based on whatever reason the Senior Drill-Sergeant made up on the spot, and while we were still locked up at attention, Drill-Sergeant Rios passed by a random recruit, left-faced at him, Smokey-bear hat’s brim to the Private’s forehead and barked, “Why you eyeballing me, PRY? You some kinda flamer???”
Without missing a beat, Private Smith (not his real name) barked right back, “Drill-Sergeant, that is no longer a legal question, drill-serGEANT!!!!” while looking him dead in the eyes.
Drill-Sergeant Rios stood there a moment, half in shock, totally impressed, and trying desperately not to laugh so he about-faced and stomped off into battery-HQ for a couple of minutes while we stood there, still locked at attention, and waiting for the inevitable flutter-kick, roll-left-roll-right, push-up, supine bicycle, donkey-kick-your-own-ass-until-I-get-sick-of-it smoke session.
After five minutes, DS Rios came storming back out like the Sea of Reeds inundating the Egyptians, spouting off an amazing diatribe: “Every last one of you MOTHERFUCKERS get in the front-leaning rest position now EXCEPT FOR PRIVATE FUCKING SMITH — the ONLY one with fucking balls among all of you! GOD DAMNED RIGHT it ain’t a legal question any more and it don’t ever matter who y’all fucking! Y’ALL ON THE SAME G’HATDAMNED TEAM!! Does it MATTER who fights with and saves your goat-smelling asses on the battlefield??? NO! Flamers or breeders??? Who the FUCK cares! Y’ALL ARE IN THE ARMY NOW! Now start PUSHING the fucking drill pad into China! IN kay-DENSE…EXERCISE!”
Camp Stanley, Republic of Korea
Goldeneye and Coming Out
Eventually, I ended up stationed in South Korea where me and about five core soldiers eventually became good friends and we had a few who would orbit us and we’d all hang out in one of the barracks rooms because someone had an N64 and we were obsessed with Goldeneye. It was to the point that we each bought out own controllers and took turns proximity-mining the shit out of every level until someone was stupid enough to accidentally set one off. You could tell who set the mine because whenever one died and shouted “FUCK!” another would quietly snicker. Sometimes, setting one off set off every mine we planted in a spectacular chain-reaction that blew the entire level apart.
Anyway, after a few months of us all hanging out and blowing each other up in Goldeneye, one of the soldiers — I’ll call him Private First-Class Brandy, because that was his drink of choice — decided to come out to us, out of the blue and probably under the influence of some brandy, very casually as if it was just part of the normal conversation. I forget what we were saying but he just blurted out, “Soooooo, you guys all know I’m gay, right?..”
I shot back something like, “Like it wasn’t already obvious to us?”
Brandy: “Wait, how do you figure?”
Me: “You just got pissed off at Specialist Budweiser (not his real name) for pouring a Bud in one of your stupid snifters and got genuinely offended! And you swing-dance out at the clubs in the vil’! SWING-DANCE, dude!”
We all laughed, including the two NCOs who also hung out with us just to blow each other up.
Brandy: “You’re not gonna tell anyone? Like, I especially don’t want any of the Three Ks to ever find out.”
SGT Goldeneye (not his real name), the ranking soldier in the room: “Nah. Door’s closed. This is don’t ask don’t tell.” He then very obviously glanced at all of us. “No one asked, and you never told us, RIGHT???”
SPC Budweiser: “Check, Sar’nt!”
The rest of us: “Hooah, Sar’nt!”
SGT Goldeneye: “Good. Now, who am I blowing up next?..”
The look of relief in Brandy’s eyes told all of us everything we needed to know. He felt safe.
No one ever broke confidence.
CQ and The Three Ks
There were three soldiers we referred to amongst each other as the Three Ks, for very obvious reasons. One time, after pulling Charge of Quarters duty with two of the Ks — one of the NCOs and a Specialist (a rank notorious as E4 Mafia) — and I were somehow chatting at 2am about “Clinton’s Army,” when SGT K just declared “Well I don’t want some fag staring at my ass while in the shower!”
So I asked him, “Are you worried that your ass is attractive to fags? You’ve definitely got an unusually high opinion of yourself and your ass…”
SGT K: “So, then what, are you a fag?”
ME: “Sergeant, you can no longer ask that question legally, remember?..”
The next six hours were amusingly uncomfortable.
The point of all this is that an admin of a Veteran Support Facebook group posted a supportive message for Pride Month. Beside the usual gnashing of teeth from the usual suspects, one particular MAGAt felt it was time to really let the group know exactly how he feels.
Unsurprisingly, just based on what he has publicly accessible at the time of this post, Clifford seems to have an obvious fascination with the LGBTQ+ community.
A very, very obvious fascination.
Don’t be this guy.