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Homosexuality and the United States military

By Emily Lewson
On February 6, 2014


As part of the Out to Lunch lecture series, the Rainbow Center hosted Timothy R. Bussey to present "The Construction of Queer Identities in the U.S. Military." The second year graduate student outlined the relationship between homosexuals and the U.S. military beginning from the First World War.
After finishing his undergraduate degree at Columbus State University and the University of Oxford, Bussey began his graduate work at UConn in the department of political science. Growing up near Fort Benning, in Georgia, Bussey became interested in the relationship between gays and the military. Today, he works alongside Professor Sherry Zane who focuses on the Newport Sex Scandal, an expensive and elaborate mission to eliminate homosexuals from the military in the late 1910s.
Although Bussey went far more in depth during his talk, he broke down the military's and America's view of homosexuals into time frames. Bussey claims that the period of WWI identified homosexuals as social deviants and sexual perverts who did not fit the American ideal, the WWII period associated them as physically inferior than heterosexuals and the Cold War period thought the USSR would too easily blackmail homosexuals. Different organizations of the government - including the CIA, FBI and DOD - all defined homosexuals as problems. Despite their claims, constant ongoing research continuously proved otherwise.
During the discussion portion of the lecture, the most controversial issue of was that of the unfair relationship that continues to exist today. The 1993 "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) congressional law dictated that military servicemen had to refrain from identifying as homosexual. Although repealed in 2010, it can be argued that some members of the armed forces disagreed with the ruling long before its repeal.
"Today's generation doesn't believe the 'normal' family is the white nuclear family that many earlier generations understood," said one audience member who preferred to stay anonymous. "Men and women serving the military today do not see homosexuals in the same light that our forefathers did."
 This point validates that military personnel must maintain the rules of their command, regardless of their beliefs. It also suggests that the members of Congress lag far behind modern social movements.
Bussey's talk shed light on the unfairness and inequality that homosexuals have faced as they served the United States military throughout history. He highlighted a minority group that was discriminated against and cleverly showed how they are gaining greater understanding in a modern day.
 "His research is characteristic of queer studies," said Bilal Tajildeem 8th semester English major. "It enlightens people as to how cruel history has been and positively progresses the queer movement."
 


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