Make Sure You Think it Through… Bruh.

I often here from young men, a lot of them gay, who are about to join the military. Most often they’ve seen the movie and see how much I was supported by my fellow Marines who were all straight. They’re as excited about joining up as I was before I went in. Sometimes they’ve heard me speak at some rally or another and they relate to my love of my country. It’s kind of weird that when it comes to my opposition to the Bush/Obama policy in the Middle East, their ears stop working. I left the Marine Corps that I love dearly because I could no longer serve in occupations which I believe to be insuring future terror attacks. So here’s my letter to the latest one where I tell him about the last guy who wrote to me for advice on serving as a gay man:

Dear ______,

I just had several email exchanges with another young man who started the conversation with the fact that he had seen the movie on Showtime and had some concerns about going into the military since he was gay. I kind of got the feeling that he was so hell-bent on going that he… I don’t know, basically he just wanted me to say “you’ll be fine, Bruh. Just don’t act like no bitch or nuthin’…. Bruh.” Ends up he, like every queer man I’ve ever met almost, has all this internalized homophobia and is convinced that the military is gong to fix that. I’m not saying that’s the case with you. What I wanted to talk to him about was our foreign policy in the Middle East and to help him make sure he was 1000% behind the mission. After all, he might have to take innocent life or give up his own or his mind or parts of his body in support of the mission. Actually, I’m wrong, he didn’t find me by seeing the movie about me, he found me through reading Dahr Jamail! Dahr’s a very smart, very compassionate man who was an un-embedded journalist in Iraq. He’s written several books. In one, “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he talks about me and my crisis of conscience surrounding Iraq. Anyway, I thought it was at least unusual that this guy is reading Dahr Jamail and isn’t even thinking about why serving in the occupations might not fit with his morals. I guess he just Googled “gays, marines, Iraq” and got that hit. (kind of amazing he didn’t get porn. he probably did)

So in the end, and to make a long story short, he ended up telling me how closed minded I was for trying to help him explore he feelings about our policies there. What a fucking Jerk, man! I am up to my eyeballs in my to-do list and I took the time to talk to this guy honestly about my feelings about what’s best for my nation and because I didn’t send him any tips on “how to put on cammie paint and not look like a fag” advice, he’s all “you’re just closed minded that’s all.” Goddamn, I work so hard to process all this ancient homophobia and then some guy like this comes along and that’s all it takes for me to start hating again. My inner Aaron James McKinney is awakened!
So once again, I’m not saying that you are anything like him but if you really want my advice about joining the military, I’m going to have to talk to you about the morality of how our military is being used right now. If you’re down with that, I’ll continue the conversation but if you’re going to get pissed with me that I won’t play G.I. Joe with you and if, in the end after taking the time, you’re going to insult me for even trying to talk to you about broader issues, let’s not move forward.
This may sound weird coming from a guy who doesn’t even know you but I care about you. If for no other reason that in a time of “what’s in it for me” you are considering putting yourself in a situation where you might have to sacrifice a lot of yourself, even to include your life. That level of selflessness is unusual these days. Beyond sacrificing your own life, as an officer, you might be put in a position where you have to sacrifice a lot of other people’s sons and daughters. I’ve co-counseled with a lot of vets over the last five years. Some of the most heartbroken ones are the ones who make it out but sent others to their death.
On September 11th, 2001 we were mercilessly attacked on our own soil. Because of the clusterfuck of our nation’s attempt to respond to it and ALL the political banter and the ways that the left and right have upped their level of combat, American against American, we have completely lost our ability to look at what happened on that awful Autumn morning and what we should have done and now that we’ve fucked it all up, what we should do as we attempt to move forward without making things exponentially worse as the sand keeps falling!
I’m willing to have that conversation with you, about what the right approach to thwarting future 9-11’s is and what that means for you personally as a man who’s thinking about joining the fight; but only if on the other side of it I’m not going to get kicked in the teeth for caring enough about you to say some things you might not want to hear.


Jeff Key

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