Do Ask, Do Tell
America lumbered further towards its grudging equalisation of gay people yesterday, when its Senate voted to repeal unfair "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", which stops openly gay people from serving in the armed forces. The law, a perfidious compromise by Bill Clinton, basically stated - "It's fine for you to risk your life for your country but don't carry pictures of your partner in your wallet. In fact, don't have a partner. We find you disgusting." While I am happy for them, I wish we didn't live in a world where armies had to exist. Or if they did exist, it would only be in order to help people during floods etc. So I feel a bit like how I felt when one of my friends got a job as a footman at Buckingham Palace. I was everso pleased for him, but at the same time, I'd make the Royal Family live on a council estate, and turn Buckingham Palace into a glorious home for orphaned children or children with severe disabilites.
While America was once a role model for gay liberation, it has increasing appeared anachronistic and callous, as more socially progressive countries have first caught up with then surpassed it. Of the 26 NATO countries, at least 22 allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military. Ten countries allow same-sex marriage, including Argentina, South Africa and Spain (not countries you'd necessarily expect to be more tolerant than the US), and a further 18 or so have recognition of civil unions, including Uruguay, Slovenia, Ecador, Hungary and Ireland. (Where America does excel, of course, is in commericalising gay culture, so that you can only belong if you buy stuff.)
Part of all of this sphincter-retracting homophobia is mainstream America's rather dreary obsession with appearing macho, which runs through almost every aspect of its culture. Take Star Trek for example. Beefy, swaggering Captain Kirk got to be the hero, shooting from the hip and bedding green-skinned alien beauties. Over in the UK, we got nerdy Dr Who, who talks science-babble and eschews violence. Another part of it is religion (I do hope that George W Bush dies painfully from a disease that could have been cured had he allowed stem cell research to take place when he was president). Even with a Democrat government, the pace towards repeal of DADT has been so fraught and slow that it has been like watching a snail race - with the snails blindfolded.
At least it seems to be getting a move on finally - compare slow progress to the no progress that would have happened in the twisted Parallel Univerise where John McCain and Sarah Palin won the presidency. McCain's response to the repeal says it all: "Today's a very sad day. They will do what is asked of them but don't think there won't be a great cost." (My response to McCain - "You are a cunt." - he might be a poor loser, but I'm an even worse winner - and I'm gloating gloating gloating on air.)
And if any sexy American sailors or marines have been reading my blog in secret, and would like a well-spoken British penpal with impeccable manners - then do get in touch. I won't even have to say your secret is safe with me, which is just as well, as I'm hopeless at keeping secrets.