Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Some thoughts on being gay......




Being gay is more than all the stereotypical notions that have been applied to us.... Being gay means to be on the forefront of a struggle for equality that has gone on for centuries. 
We follow the plight of the common man, women, workers, blacks and latino minorities, and the disabled.  
Now it’s our turn to be at the vanguard, It's our turn to demand the basic human rights that so many of our brothers and sisters have fought for. 
It’s our job to stand proudly on the front lines of a battlefield where we can make a difference in our own liberties and for the freedoms of millions to follow. 
It’s OUR turn, 
it’s OUR job, 
it’s OUR responsibility to change a world where we can all be proud.


Be strong, be involved, be Proud.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

I just want you to find the happiness in your life that I have been blessed with by knowing you and calling you my son

Today I got up, usual time. Brewed the coffee while I showered and shaved. I sat at my computer with my coffee and a towel wrapped around me and opened my emails. The first one was from my Dad...we email each other regularly, so I didn’t think much of it until I opened it and within the first two lines were the words....”son, I know that you are gay”.
The hair on my neck stood up, I think I missed about three breaths, and terror struck me. Not much in life has really shaken me. Getting through the crucible in basic training, serving three tours in Iraq certainly put me in harms way many times...but nothing scarred me more than reading those words.
I was the super son.... played rugby, was accepted to college at 16, finished college in 3 years, cum laude, joined the Marine Corps and after my initial stint was accepted into the expeditionary forces and later the first group accepted into Marine Corps Special Operations. I Found myself in harms way more times than I care to remember and have been recognized  several times with bits of metal that I wear proudly.
I’m not saying these things to brag, but rather to paint the picture.
I’m a tough Marine. I’m the poster boy for all that is straight in this world. My look, my actions, the way I walk, talk, and carry myself. The woman I have dated through the years would have no idea of who I really am. Pretending to be straight came pretty easy.
My family knew of the demands placed on me by the Corps. They knew that it pretty much prevented any serious committed relationships in my life. So not having a girlfriend was explained away easily.
I never had any relations with other men until I was 22 years old.  Living in the super macho world of the Marine Corps I came to discover myself slowly.  I was good at “living” the image and considering I worked in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell world”, I needed to keep things secret if I wanted to stay in the Corps. I Never needed to concern myself with any relationships, I was never in one place long enough to develop one. I hid behind the Marine Corps in many ways.
After getting more involved in Second Life and specifically Second Pride, I have used our virtual world as my debut to “coming out”. I was free in SL to be who I wanted, do what I needed,and develop real friends here, both straight and gay and became a part of a gay community for the first time in my life. In Other Words, SL has been my testing ground. It was also where I hid.
Upon reentering the States ( I was out of the US for three straight years) and living in a normal city, with a normal nightlife I did explore the gay scene...around the edges. Now, with the repeal of DADT, I feel freer to express myself and don’t have the fear hanging over me that I’d be “found out”. I told one of my brothers that I was gay, he was surprised, but smiled and said it sorta made sense when he thought about it. Little things sort of came together. He gave me a hug and pretty much said...”no big deal”.
I knew that someday I would have to share it all with my father. I wanted to be able to tell him and not dance around the edges and feel like I was hiding. To my Dad, I am the hero Marine son. He’s so damn proud of me and my accomplishments, I guess I was afraid to “burst his bubble”. I think my fear was more from disappointing him than in any thing else. I knew he loved me, but hell, mothers love their sons that are on death row, I didn’t want to hurt him. Or maybe somewhere deep inside me was a little boy wanting to “do good” and not dissapoint Dad.
I’ll share will you parts of the letter that he sent me. And you too might come to know the greatest man I have ever met....my Dad.


Son,

Your brother and I had a conversation earlier tonight. I have to share with you what we talked about and reaffirm to you , in the strongest way I can, that I have loved you in past, I love you now, and I will love you till they throw me in the ground. I know that you are gay. Your brother, and you better know how much he looks up to you, shared with me the concerns you had about telling me about your being gay. About me being disappointed or that it would hurt me. Truthfully, I am a little hurt. I’m not hurt  because of who you are, but more so, because you doubted me and my ability to rise above this. Truth of the matter is, I have several times thought that you might be gay, but never really cared one way or the other, except for concern about your health, career and that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell crap.
Son, you have made me proud in so many ways. Your schooling and the PhD you earned,  the  several times I was privileged to be with you when you were decorated, are proud moments in my life. The way you and your brothers helped me  put our lives back together after your mother died.  (That’s one thing we both can be dissapointed about, she would have loved to see you in Washington that day, get that medal and be promoted). You have done more than most parents deserve to bring honor and respect to our family. Your brothers and I all respect and admire you more than you will ever know.  Your cousins, nieces and nephews idolize you. And we all love and support you in ANY life you choose.  You do need to know that I would love you in whatever path you choose in life, you are my son.
I could have waited to talk about this until we met in person, but I wasn’t going to sit on this thing until then. Your sex life is your business. I just want you to find the happiness in your life that I have been blessed with by knowing you and calling you my son. I love you .

Dad


After reading his email several times, wiping the tears from my face, I finally relaxed a bit and thought it all through. I felt like a great heavy weight had been lifted from my chest.
I realized that i was the lucky one. I was the blessed son of a father that has character, integrity, and unconditional love.  I am looking at him, once again, through the eyes of a young boy who is awed by his father.   
I’ve got the bestest Dad in the world!!!

Doc Spad

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Educated Military

Over the past few days I have had the opportunity to read over many blogs and news media articles concerning the military. The occasion of Memorial Day seems to bring out the best and the worst of peoples perceptions concerning my fellow members in the Armed Forces.
I read, in many sources, concerning the fact that we now have an all volunteer military and somehow that is supposed to make a difference in recognizing the sacrifice that our armed forces have made. The idea expressed is that they have volunteered for this job, so why give them any special recognition? As much as I would like to jump all over this issue ... the real issue I want to discuss are the motives people have in  joining the armed forces in the first place. Many commentators dismiss our armed forces members as, "having to join the military to get a good job", or that they are in the military "because they couldn't get a job anywhere else", or that it was the "last resort".
And I endured reading many references to that "idea" that military people are just not as bright as the rest of society and that's why they are in the Armed Forces.

Allow me to enlighten these misguided people that seem to stereotype the military and it's members.

I  graduated from high school in 2 1/2 years and therefore started my college career early. I managed to get through college in just  four years and immediately  joined the Marines upon graduation. I had no grand devotion to country.....I had no great cause, I joined the Corps before 9-11. After joining I went to work on my Masters and managed to earn two masters degrees and just last year earned my PhD in Arab Studies. I managed to earn that degree from one of the most prestigious private institutions in the country. It was hard work and required a great deal of tolerance and understanding from my advisers as I managed to serve three tours in Iraq and "enjoyed" numerous "side trips" throughout the Middle East.
 I know that I am the exception and NOT the rule. But I think most people would be surprised at how many people in the military have achieved post graduate levels in their education and how many of us bring that expertise to the military rather than migrate over to the private sector.
Overall, the educational requirements for officers in the military are greater than that required for comparable work in the private sector. Enlisted requirements are at par or greater than equivalent jobs in the private sector. Because of the increasingly technical nature of the jobs in the military, scores on basic math, English and critical thinking tests require HIGHER scores than we see in the private sector. Drug use, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse are all reasons for exclusion for joining the armed forces and because of that, the military enjoys an entry level workforce superior to that of the private sector. The days of kids being offered a stint in the military to avoid jail are long gone. No longer is the military required to "scape the bottom of the barrel" to enlist the people that it needs.

In general, many liberal people have a stereotype of military members based on some outdated idea that may have been true a few decades ago, but is totally different today.

We join the armed forces for many reasons. Family history, a feeling of patriotism, or a desire to belong to something lasting and that has tradition. Yes, there are those of us that join too for the college benefits, which are not as generous as they were under the GI Bill post Vietnam.

I stay in the Marine Corps because I'm part of something bigger than just myself and my own personal gain.
I've been actively recruited by numerous organizations offering pay exceeding multiple six figures, but belonging to a company or an academic "think tank" does not begin to measure up to what it's like to be a member of the US Marine Corps.

The one quality the military has over all those companies, universities, or private institutions is the HONOR.

So the next time you hear some elitist dilettante belittle your armed forces members as less than intelligent, or degrade their motives for being in the armed forces as the result of not being "enlightened",
remember that we are here by choice ....an intelligent, well thought out choice...to be part of something honorable, lasting and noble.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obama: does he have no shame?

As a veteran and someone that has had the honor of being part of our Special Forces, I have to add my thoughts to the recent actions of our misguided President
His recent actions confirm to me his continued disdain and disrespect for our armed forces and for the people that place themselves on the front lines.
Using the sacrifice of our Special Forces for political gain is disgusting.
Using the actions of our Seals to score political points reflects his continued disrespect for those that DO the real work in this "War in Afghanistan".
I large group of people spent years doing the work that led to Osama Bin Laden's demise. Thousands spent countless hours tracking down leads, getting resources lined up, and putting together and practicing the plan that ultimately resulted in his Bin Laden's assassination. ALL THE PRESIDENT DID WAS TO SAY "YES". That is the extent of his involvement. He said "yes".
If you listen to the political ads his campaign has launched, one would think he led a team of dedicated Seals into that compound and orchestrated operation Neptune Spear. All he did was said "YES".
And now he uses the work and sacrifice of others for political gain in suggesting that his political foe would not have done what he had done. What a crock...what audacity, what bull. Not that it required much effort , Mr President, but I think most Americans would agree that ANYONE in the Oval office would have said "yes".
This is more than YOUR politics, this is more than your myopic perspective allows(getting reelected).
The President needs to apologize for his shameful claim and apologize to the people that did the real work in bringing  Bin Laden to justice.
We currently have a President that is in full campaign mode and is NOT doing the job we elected him to do...like leading the country. Every consideration is political, every action is weighed against votes, and every speech is partisan. There is no honor in this President...it's a concept foreign to him. His recent claims are proof of that.




Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Easter journey

I have to share this. I just have to.
Today I boarded the train for NYC from Washington DC....decided I needed to get out of town, spend some time with by brother and relax. I had intended to open up my laptop and "get some work" done during the three hour ride, but that didn't happen.
First let me set the scene. I'm a Marine, and yes I look like one too. I sorta have that Marine "recruitment poster" look. I'm also not particularly religious, although when you have spent time in Iraq (three tours) and have seen the things I have....you sorta develop a special relationship with God. I'm also bisexual and enjoy having straight and a gay relationships.
Let me get back to today ......
I end up sitting next to a middle aged lady who was on her way home from a Christian retreat. She looked decent enough. She was dressed in jeans and a nice halter top that revealed that she had the attributes than any straight man might desire. She had no reservations talking to me about her experience there...how wonderful it was and how it "re-invigorated" her faith. Then she started going on and on about gays.... and how they were trying to "take over" and wanted special treatment. She went on about gay marriage and how they were trying to destroy American values.
I was, at first, surprised that she would be so open with a complete stranger, then I realized that my appearance said nothing about being gay and everything about being a "read blooded' straight man. She felt "safe" assuming that I was "on her side". She immediately  assumed that I shared her attitudes and values... That scarred me. But that's another story.
I sat there listening to her and the hate that came from the lips of this "Christian" woman was growing more and more intolerable. Her once gentle pretty smile was replaced with a hard jaw and clenched teeth as she went on about how "they" were ruining America. She complained that Disney had gay days, the Home Depot had a float in a gay parade, both businesses she would no longer support. I listened intently for at least 20-30 minutes. I didn't show her any signs of agreement or disagreement.... I just listened.
Then she said the words that gave me an in and allowed me to respond. She said, "I'm sure that you don't have to deal with "that kind" in the Marine Corps she lowered her voice and said, "no fags there".
Here's how I responded:
I said, "Ma'am, the Marine Corps, and the entire armed forces, just abolished the policy of Don't Ask....Don't Tell, it's now perfectly legal for any member of the armed forces to be openly gay. The truth is ma'am, there have always been gays in the military and YES, we do have a few of them in the Marine Corps. One of them happened to be a Gunnery Sergeant that saved my life on two separate occasions. Frankly, I could care less who he goes to bed with....I'm here today because of his bravery and selflessness. He was decorated by the President of the United States for those efforts...TWICE... and although I don't think the President knew about him being gay, I really don't think he would have cared. I didn't realize that my voice had carried as far as it did, but evidently a few of the people sitting nearby had heard the conversation... and a couple responded with claps, and a few HoooRaws. Not shying from an audience, I decided to go for broke. I said "Ma'am, the thing that I can't understand about "Christians" like you...that have so much hate for gay people is how can you call yourself a Christian? Christ asked you to love your fellow man....and all I hear from you is hate and disdain. God made gay people, just like he made you straight. He never told you to hate them...he told you to love them. So before you sit here and profess your grand Christian values to me...you might examine your heart and ask yourself whether your beliefs are really Christlike. Maybe, just maybe, God put all these disgusting gay people here to test people like YOU...do you think you could REALLY love a gay person?  Ma'am, I've got better things to do than sit here and lecture a bigot about their misguided faith...so if you'll excuse me, I'll sit elsewhere". At that , half the dam car erupted in applause and I got up and moved to another seat, exchanging a few "high fives" along the way.
I sat in a new seat and just thought for a few minutes. I had to stuff the anger that had risen in me and just had to try to understand why people like this were so hateful and bigoted. She had no idea that I had a "gay" side and that one of the people she was talking about was sitting right next to her. Then I heard her whimpers....she was crying. After about 15 minutes she got out of her seat, came up to mine and apologized. She said that I was right, that she was acting nothing like the "Christian" women she thought she was.  Then she started sobbing, and dropped to her knees...."Holy Shit....what had I done? This women was going though some kind of crisis of faith before my eyes, and the eyes of half the train car. I went to her and helped her up and gave her a big hug...after a minute I looked in her eyes and said, " It's OK, I forgive you.... she sat down next to me and we talked for a while longer...she was genuinely contrite....she honestly realized that she was acting the complete opposite to what she professed. Then I dropped my bomb....I said, "Ma'am, I'm gay and have had to hide that fact for the last 12 years of my Marine Corps service.... we are just as hard working as you are, we love this country just as much as you do...all we want is to live our lives and not be discriminated against because of what we do in private. It's not right for people to be fired or evicted because of who they are or what they do in the privacy of their own homes. THAT is un-American, THAT is discrimination and bigotry, and THAT is not Christian. She looked up at me and smiled and said that I was right and that she had a lot of soul searching to do. The train pulled into the station.... we smiled at each other and I wished her a Happy Easter, she thanked me for my service and we left the train.
Walking through Penn Station to catch a cab, I couldn't help but wonder if she really had changed....I want to think YES....but will probably never know. In any event, I gave her a lot to think about the next time she goes to Church.
Happy Easter folks,...going to St Patrick's tomorrow for Easter Mass...and I think I'll have a little more to think about as well.

Semper Fi

Doc Spad

Monday, March 12, 2012

Afghanistan...time to leave....

First let me preface my comments by giving you little background....just so you don't get the idea that I'm another disaffected "know-nothing" offering up my opinion of our country's involvement in Afghanistan.
I hold a PhD in Arab/Middle Eastern Studies and have been a US Marine for 12 years. Been to Afghanistan twice over the last three years and did three tours in Iraq. I would like to think my "opinion" holds a little more water than most.

When we first entered  the War in Afghanistan we went there to dislodge al-Qaeda and defeat their Taliban sponsors. A job that was, essentially, completed years ago. Now we are engaged in the process of "nation building", whatever that is supposed to mean. 
I think it's ironic that the current White House occupant called Afghanistan the "good war" and maligned the past president and his party for pursuing action in Iraq. President Bush set out to topple Saddam Hussein and restore order in a ruthless dictatorship that had destroyed any political infrastructure, other than the Baathist, and suppressed any political opposition.  Today there is a wide representation of political viewpoint in Iraq, a reasonably capable system of governance, and  although some, with Iranian backing, are trying to disrupt the
this  fragile political dynamic, it's working. Bush also negotiated a withdraw date of US forces that took place exactly as promised, even though the current President takes credit for it.
I say ironic, because Iraq has pretty much been a success story, while Afghanistan is shaping up to be a miserable failure. Afghanistan has been and will be be for the foreseeable future, stuck in a 14th century model of governance, with warlords and corrupt thugs running a country, influenced greatly by old religious zealots  that are stuck in a world model reminiscent of  the medieval Dark Ages. This is why al-Qaeda sank roots in Afghanistan. With payoffs to the right warlords, Bin Laden bought his little place in paradise and planned 9-11. 
The geopolitical conditions of this part of the world have allowed Afghanistan to stay isolated and pursue their "road to the past" for centuries, while the rest of the world has grown, evolved, and transformed itself into a much more enlightened place, Afghanistan has been stuck in the Middle Ages.  Their treatment of woman, their archaic ideas of justice and a "warlord" system of governance, has maintained this model for way too long....and I have little faith that any degree of "nation building" will change anything is this wasted , isolated, peace of  real estate. The problem with Afghanistan is that since the time of Genghis Khan is has been a place people went through on their way to somewhere else. There was no reason to stay...it offers no great economic basis. Afghanistan has always been just a "rest stop" on the way to greener pastures. The only product this hell-hole has offered the world is a steady supply of opium that has fed the worlds heroin addicts.
We cannot bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age...they are already there....and worse, they seem to like it that way. Trying to create a cohesive society out of a bunch of war-lords, guarding their personal  fiefdoms, and constantly fighting one-another for the upper-hand is a waste of time.  
It's time to pack up and leave this place to it's own miserable fate.  As long as these people continue to cling to their "goat herder" prophet's every word and renounce anything good from the western world they deserve to be left alone and create their perfect 13th century Islam.  However, the next time a group of radical jihadists try to set up shop in this god-forsaken place...we should nip it in the bud early, and just nuke the damn place....it might improve the terrain, which already looks like the far side of hell. 



Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012....Make it a Good one

Bringing in the New Year.....
As the new year begins, we all have hopes for something better. Thank God 2011 is over. If we each work to make our individual lives a little better this next year, collectively, we can make the world a little better. 
Forget the past and may 2012 bring good things to you and yours. Be the force and the voice of your own life. My favorite quote for this time of year......
"For last year’s words belong to last year’s language – and next year’s words await another voice." T.S. Eliot


Be the voice in your own life...
Be the force that sets the stage for prosperity and growth this year....
Make it happen...


Semper Fi
Doc Spad