Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was ended a few years ago. Its repeal was celebrated by many mainstream liberals, but the radical leftist, Against Equality Collective, had a more critical take. There is merit on both sides of the argumentative aisle. As long as government militaries exist; the freedom of gay individuals who serve to reveal their sexual identity is important. They can otherwise be trapped in a hellish nightmare of inauthenticity. It’s also true that progress doesn’t consist of more people killing for government and wars of empire. The correct position is therefore to see the ending of the policy as ensuring a better environment for gay people in the present military while still criticizing it as part of an oppressive structure of power.
The danger lies in forgetting the evil of imperialism due to a greater inclusion of people participating in imperial violence. A more diverse band of killers for government is still a band of killers for government. Diversity is a useful value, but it isn’t the only value. This is especially true when we’re discussing the subject of militarism. Miliaristic force is among the worst evils known to humankind and remains so even with a greater variety of people involved. It’s imperative not to lose sight of this.
It’s also important not to lose sight of how militarism reinforces the notion of the other. A phenomenon that is especially deadly for marginalized individuals like LGBT people. An example of this is the fear of a Helot uprising in militaristic Sparta. It helped keep militarism going in that society. Homophobia itself is based on a fear of the other. It may not be inherently tied to militarism or empire, but it definitely has that trait in common.
Militarism tends to lead to the demonizing of the other, because it embraces an “us vs them” logic – one nation-group or group against another. It often leads to the total destruction of an enemy. There is no regard for civilian life. The inclusion of gay and lesbian individuals in this practice of “us vs them” war would be ironic. This is due to the status of gays and lesbians as marginalized people in American society.
Let us work towards abolishing homophobia, empire and militarism. A trinity of evils that deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history. We anarchists can lead the way on this issue. It’s time to get started!