Marking the first Memorial Day without ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
My father was a war veteran. During a debate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with me years ago, he shared his thoughts on why straight men in the military were uncomfortable with gays serving.
It had nothing to do with sexuality, my dad explained, but instead came from an interpretation of weakness. He personally had no concern about someone hitting on him, but he was convinced a gay man would lose his nerve in battle and cause my father to die along with him.
That was based on the way my father grew up, thinking the only gay men he knew were the extremely effeminate men he saw around town and misinterpreted their character and womanly gait as frail.
I think we’ve made great progress with Trevor. Our first foster dog, this GoldenDoodle was found on the streets of Alabama and sent to Adopt A Golden Atlanta.
A few years ago, we adopted our dog GiGi from Adopt-A-Golden. They asked that we foster Trevor and try to get him more comfortable and emotionally healthy so he could one day soon be moved into a loving and permanent home.
When Trevor came to us he kept his distance, literally. We let him out in our fenced back yard and that is where he stayed, choosing instead to sleep outside the first night. He wouldn’t let us pet him and showed his teeth to our other animals when they came too close.
It seems that suicide is spilling into our headlines more than ever before, with another gay teenager falling victim to this tragic trend a couple weeks ago.
Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. of Iowa took his own life at the age of 14, after being tormented by classmates for his decision last month to come out. His mother told The Washington Post that Kenneth quickly became the target of threatening cellphone calls, voicemails, and online comments.
Kenneth was a popular kid in school, but only when classmates thought he was straight. Once they learned his truth, Kenneth’s peers quickly turned on him and that rejection led to his death April 15.
I am a smarter person because of Made-for-TV movies. I realized this the other night when Katie Jo and I were sitting on our back porch talking. The topic of Helen Keller came up, and I began to tearfully recall the scene from “The Miracle Worker” where Patty Duke’s Anne Sullivan finally gets through to Melissa Gilbert’s Helen at the well.
W. A. T. E. R. Who doesn’t get choked up at that memory? Katie Jo.
When I realized my other half gave no reaction to my description of that pivotal scene, I questioned if she had ever seen “The Miracle Worker.” She had not, and went on to tell me she really wasn’t that familiar with Helen Keller’s life. I was shocked, but remembered that if it weren’t for Duke and Gilbert, I might not be either.
So much of my early education came from those mini dramas, which provided greater opportunities for learning than books or theatrical releases ever could. That’s because Made-for-TV movies came on one of the only three or four channels available then, and the lack of choice forced everyone in the family, and the country, to watch it together.