September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011, will be a historic day for our country, and a special day for me.

It will be historic because the United States’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will finally be put to rest.

And it will be special to me because I hope to release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR on that day in honor of the historic event.

But, like the cup half empty kind of guy that I am, I won’t believe either will happen until I actually see them happening…

But I’m hopeful it will all come true.

I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to end because it has been a powerful presence in my life since my decision in 1994 to work outside my career field of telecommunications, and outside of my comfort zone, to become a navy Equal Opportunity Advisor. My duties as an EOA required me to become thoroughly familiar with the DADT policy and to facilitate seminars and focus groups regarding it at navy commands throughout the Western Pacific. A key element of my training was not to just remind sailors that they could not ask about someone’s sexual orientation, but also to make it very clear since it had become an issue in the military that, just because their values or stereotypes or perceptions or prejudgments motivates them to do so, doesn’t mean they can harass or abuse or murder someone who they perceive has a sexual orientation that is contrary to their beliefs. I use the word “perceive” because rarely do homosexuals violate DADT policy by telling others, especially others hostile to their lifestyle, about their sexual orientation. Consequently then, the most likely way a homophobic person can be motivated to act upon his or her (mostly his) homophobic tendency to want to harass or abuse or murder is by perceiving a service member to be a homosexual based upon the perceived homosexual’s behavior or personal characteristics. Facilitating the discussion of such a sensitive, and often combative, nature for three years was very challenging, yet very rewarding for me.

If I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to an end, I can only wonder how one feels who loves his or her country so much that he or she was willing to join the military knowing that the DADT policy required him or her to suppress his or her identity and sexual orientation in order to serve. (Normally, because I am a man and because I choose a male identity for myself (It’s a gender thing, you wouldn’t understand…probably.), I would not bother with all the “he or she” and “his or her” distraction; I would simply just write “he” or “his,” just as I would expect a female writer to just write “she” or “shis,” I mean, “sher,” I mean, “her,” but I feel in this situation, it is important for me to highlight and reiterate the fact, in an effort to remind everyone, that both men and women have chosen to make this enormous sacrifice for their country. Talk about Patriots. All you heterosexuals out there go ahead and try imagining what it would be like to not only not be allowed to tell others who you love, but also to not be allowed to completely express your love to the person whom you do love. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, since it’s our privilege to not have imagine such an absurd way of life?

And I can hardly believe that my novel is finally going to be released because it, too, has been a powerful presence in my life for nearly as long as DADT has been. Consequently, I find it hard to believe that in a few short days I will finally be able to call the project complete.

And I also can hardly believe that my novel is going to be released on September 20, 2011, since it is only a few short days away and, because of a few issues I am contending with, I still have yet to complete the publication review process with the publishing service I am using. So, at this point, September 20, 2011, is more like a target release date than a set release date. But we’ll see.

Regardless of whether my novel is actually published on September 20, 2011, or not, the date will always be special to me since it was DADT, or more specifically, since it was all the harassment and abuse and even murder that was inflicted on so many service members because of DADT, that provided the unfortunate impetus for why I wrote the novel to begin with.

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2 Replies to “September 20, 2011”

  1. Hi Kurt! This is your “old” fourth grade teacher, Joanne Holahan, from Thomas Jefferson Elem. in Ashtabula! I’ve been a customer of your sister’s store, Kamelnat’s in the Harbor, since they opened their store! Love it!!! Kami was telling me about you & Kelli and the rest of your family. She told me about your book which we hope to read! I can remember one project in my fourth grade class where I asked the students to write and illustrate a child’s storybook. I recall how talented you were in writing & art! So it’s only reasonable that you have been so successful in this field!!! You owe it all to T.J.!!! HA!!!

    Sincerely, best wishes, Kurt! You are in our thoughts and prayers! My husband, Don, and I are in Annapolis right now…on a 17 day/7 stop Bucket List Road Trip…starting in Annandale, VA,and Annapolis. Tomorrow we leave for Reston, VA. to visit with my grade school friends Nina & Bill Redlin. Nina was born a day after me…our mothers were in the hospital at the same time! So I guess she is my very OLDEST friend! We keep in touch…Bill is a news commentator on NPR in Washington, DC.
    We toured the Naval Academy yesterday. My college friend (I haven’t seen her in over 30 years!), Colette Ryan Wittig, is a consierge at the Lowe’s Hotel…she is a former tour director of historic Annapolis, so she gave us a wonderful tour! Just beautiful there! In Annandale, we visited my niece & her husband & 3 little ones…Matt is a graduate of the Naval Academy and is now working for an admiral as his right-hand man. Previously, he was the commander of the “Hurricane.” He had been positioned at the Pentagon for awhile. His name is Matt Labert…perhaps you might know him!

    Perhaps I will try to call you, Kurt, while we’re on this trip! Would love to get in touch with you! Best of luck on your publishing, writing, and artistry! Take care…

    Joanne Holahan
    5172 Woodside Dr.
    Geneva, OH 44041
    440-466-8012
    Cell # 440-319-4547
    email: johool@windstream.net

    Like

  2. Wow! Mrs. Holahan! How wonderful to hear from you. I have many fond memories of your class and, yes, I owe much to you and to T. J.

    It sounds like you had a fulfilling trip to Annapolis. It’s a historically beautiful place to visit. One of my favorites.

    Thanks so much for your kind words. You’ve made my day.
    Forever your student and friend,
    kurt

    Like

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