Another Silent Soldier Dies

As the Senate Armed Services Committee announces that it will hold hearings on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) this fall, we’ve lost another gay veteran.

I got word today that an old friend and co-worker died.

She was a retired veteran, an old school butch lesbian, and a proud Portuguesa who had the same name as my Azorian aunt.

She died as the result of many kinds of cancers. I forget what order they came in – first breast, then lung, then liver or brain – because they cropped up like wildfires.

When it all started with a lump in her breast, she explained that she’d been waiting, knowing she was a ticking bomb, having spent part of her military service observing nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.

She told me once how many she’d seen, and while I can’t recall the number, I remember being shocked by it. She described the sight and sound of the blasts, and the hot rush of wind that followed. She said she wouldn’t mourn the loss of her breasts, since she’d always been called “sir” anyway, and joked that after her masectomies, she would have pansies tattooed where she used to have nipples. But within months there was another cancer. One the VA said was unrelated to the one in her breast. And then another…

She served before DADT. She served in silence. She served a country that wouldn’t acknowledge who she was, and kept her silence by threatening the loss of her career.

And, while she didn’t die in the line of duty, she ultimately died for her country, because of the duty for which she had volunteered.

Thanks for everything, A. Rest in peace.

**********************

2 responses to “Another Silent Soldier Dies

  1. A very good article. I’m sorry to hear about your friends death. She must have been very brave. May she rest in peace.

  2. DADT remains a pox upon the Armed Services. As many active duty friends tell me, it’s pretty rare to actually keep being gay a complete secret. The guys in your unit know, and as long as you don’t start wearing your uniform tied at the middle of pulling a Maxwell Klinger, they really don’t care.

    People tell me that Good Order and Discipline will be ruined by allowing gays to openly serve, and to that I remind them that the same was said about blacks (and women). While certainly some physical standards got relaxed for the ladies, the US Military is still around, and as big a Bad Ass as ever.

    Let them serve, ffs. Yeah there will be bigotry directed at the gays because of homophobes, but so what? We have racists in the military (not even a small minority, but they’re there), and that doesn’t stop Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Dominicans, Jews, Atheists, of any other group that isn’t White Men from serving.

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