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The Last Word

You Can’t Erase A Carved Stone

Coming out of the closet is one thing, but leaving an inscription on your gravestone seems to leave no doubt.

Do the people he served with visit his grave?

Do those in his unit who know what he did hold him in high regard? They should.

Gay or straight, the military lifestyle is rigid before it’s anything else.

There’s no place to hide, and my uncle found honesty the best policy. He is a baby boomer who¬†opened the letter.

He got drafted for Vietnam after he moved to San Francisco and showed up for his induction physical with everyone else.

At some point he stood before one of the military men who read his papers and noted, “I see where you put down you are gay.”

Uncle John had gay pride before anyone spoke up about gay pride.

“Yes, I did,” he said.

“Okay, son. This is what I ask everyone who checks the gay box, then we get on with business. Are you gay?”

Apparently this is where everyone breaks. Not Uncle John.

“Yes, I am gay.”

“Sure you are. Can you tell me the date of your last homosexual experience?”

Instead of confessing that he was or wasn’t gay, and letting it go, gay pride came in.

“I’ve been here about forty-five minutes? The bus ride was about half an hour? That’s an hour and fifteen minutes, so my last homosexual experience was just before I got on the bus, about an hour and a half ago.”

“Is that right?”

“If you’d like to know, my next is in about two hours, depending on how long it takes you to sign off on my papers. Sooner if you get on the stick. Can you do that?”

“What?”

“Get on the stick.”

“That’ll be enough.”

“It’s never enough. It’ll never be enough. I’m starting to like the Army way of things, though.”

“Fine, fine. Take these papers through that door and you’re free to go.”

“Do I get an honorable discharge?”

“No, but we’ll call if we need you.”

“What are the chances you’ll call?”

“I’m not calling.”

“A call is always nice.”

“Okay. Someone will call if the need arises.”

“I’ll call if I don’t hear from you.”

“Son, no one calls their draft board to get in. They call their recruiter to join.”

“So I can still join?”

“You can do this: take these papers and walk through the door I mentioned. Then get on the bus and go home.”

“You’re a very kind man.”

“Why, thank you. I mean, take these papers and leave.”

 

About David Gillaspie

Comments

  1. alex paul says:

    Great story.

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