What It’s Like to Be Gay in the Ultra-Masculine National Security Community

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    Oct 01, 2015 2:24 AM GMT
    Great, full article

    Even post-“don’t ask, don’t tell,” it’s still a world of homophobic slurs and awkward questions about my “wife.”

    I approached the colonel who had sent the email, explained that I was gay, and said that I felt it was inappropriate to casually mock people like me on a government email system. His response dripped with hostility: After asserting that I was attacking his religious beliefs, he detailed his history preaching at his nearby Baptist Church. “Faggots like you don’t have the right,” he said, “to oppress Christians. That’s all liberal P.C. nonsense.”

    When I complained to my boss, he wrung his hands and told me that he felt bad about it, but there was nothing he could do. What he didn’t say was that he was unwilling to endanger his company’s contract — and thus his own job — by raising a stink about some colonel saying something mean to a young person about all that gay stuff.

    I deployed to Afghanistan a few months later to support some Human Terrain Teams, and my experience with the colonel prompted me to keep my sexual identity a secret. At the Combat Readiness Center in Fort Benning, Georgia, there were only group showers — not the biggest deal in the universe, but I was terrified of someone causing me grief if he knew I was gay and showering next to him. The gruff, performative masculinity of war deployment doesn’t necessarily create a welcoming environment for LGBT people.

    And so, later in 2009, working in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a contractor at a military intelligence facility, I made the decision to keep my private life completely private. Although the college town is far more liberal than the rest of Virginia, my colleagues were not. One worker drove an Audi with a confederate flag bumper sticker. When my employer, a contractor, posted a “Celebrate Gay Pride” sign in the office kitchen during National LGBT Pride Month, it was defaced within a day. When the Christmas party came around, I told my boyfriend at the time to stay home and went by myself. No one I worked with knew I was in a relationship or that it was with a man. Unlike Washington, in Virginia I could be fired, without recourse, if a supervisor had a religious objection to my sexuality, since, at the time, Virginia had no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

    Working with the military and being gay can be a confusing experience. Much of the bluster that comes with wearing a uniform involves talking about sex in forceful terms — sex as power, sex as conquest, sex as punishment. When something is bad, it is said to “suck dick,” and when someone acts stupidly, they’re “gay” or “faggy.”

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    Oct 01, 2015 2:30 AM GMT
    And I DO remember this

    New Security Clearance Rules Affect Gays, Associated Press
    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Bush's rules could "open the door for broader interpretation" of rules granting security clearances for national security-related jobs

    The regulation stated that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance."

    Bush removed that categorical protection, saying instead that security clearances cannot be denied "solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual."

    The new rules say behavior that is "strictly private, consensual and discreet" could "mitigate security concerns."

  • iron_man

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    Oct 03, 2015 6:07 AM GMT
    Wow, that all sounds absolutely horrible...it's like having to throw yourself back in the closet all over again!
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    Oct 03, 2015 6:47 AM GMT
    iron_man saidWow, that all sounds absolutely horrible...it's like having to throw yourself back in the closet all over again!

    Why do you think this was VERY important, EO 11246 was hidden by the right wing due to the GW Bush religious exemption in it. Most people don't understand who this executive order covers. Not all people working for federal contractors, only those who are designated as Non-Exempt in their payroll status, which can include unionized workers.

    What's the Difference Between Exempt and Nonexempt Workers?

    Let's start at the beginning. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers classify jobs as either exempt or nonexempt. Nonexempt employees are covered by FLSA rules and regulations, and exempt employees are not.

    Different Compensation Structures

    Exempt positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections afforded nonexempt workers. Employers must pay a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position for it to be exempt. Typically, only executive, supervisory, professional or outside sales positions are exempt positions.

    Nonexempt employees, as the term implies, are not exempt from FLSA requirements. Employees who fall within this category must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and given overtime pay of not less than one-and-a-half times their hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 40 each week.

    Overtime Implications

    Exempt employees are generally expected to devote the number of hours necessary to complete their respective tasks, regardless of whether that requires 35 hours per week or 55 hours per week. Their compensation doesn't change based on actual hours expended. Exempt employees aren't paid extra for putting in more than 40 hours per week; they're paid for getting the job done. On the other hand, nonexempt employees must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per workweek, so it often behooves employers to keep nonexempt employees' hours down.

    So Which Is Better?

    That depends on you. Some workers would rather be employed in nonexempt positions to ensure they're paid for every hour they work. Others prefer the latitude that comes with salaried positions. For example, most nonexempt employees are going to be held to a more stringent standard regarding things like casual time. Exempt employees can ordinarily spend a reasonable amount of time around the watercooler without incurring the boss's wrath; nonexempt employees' time tends be more closely monitored, and designated breaks are allowed only at certain times during the workday.

    Generally, exempt employees are paid more than nonexempt employees, because they are expected to complete tasks regardless of the hours required to do them. If staying late or coming in early is required to do the job, exempt employees are frequently expected to do just that. Nonexempt employees typically work only the prescribed number of hours.

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    Oct 04, 2015 9:45 PM GMT
    iron_man saidWow, that all sounds absolutely horrible...it's like having to throw yourself back in the closet all over again!

    It can be pretty demoralizing. That said, the most trenchant homophobia tends to come from the older crowd. Younger people tend to care less (if at all), so I think you will see that sort of casual bigotry almost disappearing in the next decade or so, as the "old guard" retire.