Monday, March 20th, 2023

Going from Did Ask but Didn’t Tell, to DADT, to hopefully just Don’t Ask

Billy GloverJuly 27, 2010.

Dear Tracy Baim:

I wonder if even the people active in the effort to get rid of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell know the long history of our community/movement attempt to get justice in the Armed Forces.

The article/viewpoint of Jeff Fulton in the current issue of Windy City Times is a small contribution to getting this history on the record (DADT: A Historical Perspective).

Since May of 1966 we have been dealing with the military over the issue of homosexuals in the Armed Forces. At that time the inductees (men) were asked about their sexuality — which we obviously opposed, as is the basis of the effort today. But as Fulton points out even though the men were asked, the hope was that they would not answer, as the military needed bodies to serve in Vietnam. And, as we in Los Angeles had to deal with, the Army actually tried to ignore the “checked box” and drafted some men anyway.

So Don Slater led the legal battle, taking the issue to court, with the aide of Dr. Evelyn Hooker, friendly attorneys and as far as I remember not one of the dozen or so men whose case was handled were actually drafted. Others were. And, as the military, and I’m sure the courts, as well as we, knew that some of the men who said they were homosexual were not.

And as far as we know, the men we helped had no problems in their future, although only a few ever contacted us later in their life or did any work for the cause. We have the records of these men in Homosexual Information Center Archives at Cal state Northridge. I wonder where they are today, these man years later and if they have any thoughts of helping the young men and women today still fighting that battle.


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  1. Bill Dobbs

    Billy Glover,
    Like so many of those involved in the DADT repeal effort you only look at the workplace conditions for those in the military – hoping for what you describe as “justice in the Armed Forces.” Did it ever occur to you to ask some questions about US foreign policy, about what the military is doing? There’s the slight matter of war – US led wars of aggression on Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. But for an accident of birth and geography you might be in the cross hairs of a predator drone operated remotely by a GI. If you’re really lucky, a gay GI might blow your life to smithereens. The historical insights you offer are interesting but often your perspective suffers from the same tunnel vision that limits the vision of gays much younger than you. That’s the big difference between those who aspire to ‘equality’ and those who want social justice even ‘liberation.’

  2. Billy Glover

    I can assure you that I have thought of the same issues as you, as have most of the people actually working for this movement to gain equal/civil rights for homosexual Americans.. In fact, you might want to go to Daily Queer News today as there are two links giving the two views on this issue, one from Petrelis on his blog site and one from Truth Will Out-based on GetEqual mainly and Choi, etc. But as we said to Morris Kight and others in 1966, why do you want to deal with two issues at the same time? One is equal rights for those who (now) have chosen to serve, and the issue of if we should as a nation be in a certain war? Then it war Vietnam, now it is iraq. Next will be some other nation.

    Why are you not fussing at those who are in churches/religions and trying to change them, as many glbt people are totally against working with religion, which obviously is the worst enemy our community/movement has?

    Now if you want the glbt media to actually discuss serious issues like this, good. Let’s discuss how it is that we have (mostly) volunteered to try to change America on the issue of sexuality-mainly homosexuality. I also have felt the pain of glbt people living in nations that are controlled by religious fanatics. But do you realize that that in the 50s and 60s included the countries of South America. Today that is where some of the most progress on homosexuality has been made—against the wishes of the Catholic Church. How did that happen?

    I think this issue is directly connected to the issues forced onto the public now by the leaks about Afghanistan. The question is, why are the peple of that nation not working with us to gain their rights—such as women, etc? The answer is that we have tried to fight a war we didn’t start by being nice. The people of that nation, (not sure about Iraq at any time) according to polls, still sort of like Americans. BUT they fear the Taliban, so they work with them against us-against their own interests. We are not trying to change their religion or culture. We want them to stop being a place our enemies can hide. Being homosexual/glbt there may be where we were in the 1950s, but there will be no change until the people start doing the work needed, regardless of if we are there or not.

    How do you fight a war without killing people, who indirectly have let others kill YOU? The Taliban kills them too? Why do they act with them against us? This nation has had to defend itself from outsiders-and a few insiders-since it was founded, and that will never change, and I question anyone who thinks getting rid of our military will “solve” that problem. And why should homosexuals be discriminated against, and thus made outsiders who can then be attacked as unpatriotic, because some people don’t believe in war?

    Ask Negroes—they were called that then, and in fact some callers to C-SPAN use the term now, (not negatively as some are black themselves-were also asked why they fought in wars when they were treated worse than the German they risked their lives to capture? The issue is the same.

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