According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, women in the Army and Air Force are being kicked out in record numbers under "don't ask, don't tell." From the Times:
While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women.As Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the SLDN, notes, "Women make up 15 percent of the armed forces, so to find they represent nearly 50 percent of Army and Air Force discharges under 'don't ask, don't tell' is shocking."
The Pentagon hasn't offered an explanation for the increase in discharges of lesbian military personnel, but I have to wonder: could this be the start of the Tasha effect? If there is yet another significant spike in the number of discharges following this most recent season of The L Word, the one that saw Tasha on trial for "homosexual conduct" (I always wondered, was she suspected of being a lesbian because of her relationship with Alice, or was it something else, like she was spotted swilling beer on the couch with her legs spread Al Bundy style while watching a football game?), then we might know if there's anything to my theory. Because I strongly suspect that the bigwigs in charge of gay military witch hunts are way into The L Word, and are probably so self-conscious about it that they thought the best way to deflect attention from their fanaticism would be to root out all the lesbians around them.
Another of my crackpot theories, while we're on the subject of enlisted gays and The L Word, is that more lesbians are probably joining the military now than ever because of the fictional character of Tasha Williams. Normally I'm not the type of person who'd ever consider joining the Army (I'm more John Dall than John Wayne), but if I thought it was possible I'd meet someone who looks like Rose Rollins in basic training, I might be persuaded.
In other news...
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, thinks gay and lesbian asylum-seekers are perfectly safe in Iran, as long as they're discreet. It's a position that makes a lot of sense ... if you're completely insane. My favorite part of The Independent's article on Smith's beliefs is this:
Gay campaign groups estimate that 4,000 Iranians have been executed because of their sexuality since the late 1970s. Ms Smith suggests it is far fewer.Because if only a few of us, say 40 instead of 4,000, have been hanged in Iran for being gay, who cares? It doesn't mean the country is unsafe for homosexuals or anything. As recently as last year, you had Iranian MP Mohsen Yahyavi telling British MPs that gays should be tortured, killed, or tortured and killed, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisting to American college students that there are no gays in Iran, but I'm sure they were just joshing about that. Surely, by "torture and kill," Yahyavi really meant "love and embrace, and not in a gruesome, torture-y, kill 'em all way."
But wait, there's more...
Also in The Independent, 2008's Pink List, a ranking of the 101 most influential UK-based LGBT people of the year, was unveiled yesterday. The top spot went to journalist Evan Davis, while last year's #1, TV writer Russell T Davies (who was profiled in last weekend's New York Times), slipped to #2. Other names on the list include all the usual suspects: Elton John, Ian McKellen, Sarah Waters, Stephen Fry, Rupert Everett, Deborah Warner, Jeanette Winterson, Fiona Shaw and Saffron Burrows. (Warner and Winterson, you might note, are partners, while Shaw, a frequent collaborator of Warner's, has been linked to Burrows since they starred in Warner's stage adaptation of Winterson's The PowerBook in 2002. Forget about the brilliance of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Jeanette Winterson should have won the Whitbread Prize, a Nobel Prize, and probably a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for engineering all of that.) New entries on the list include Samantha Fox and Dan Gillespie, lead singer of The Feeling. I think that means it's time for more British notables to come out.
Oy vey! Anti-gay protesters picketed the Jewish wedding of gay rights pioneers Robin Tyler and Diane Olson in California last week, and instead of throwing rice at the happy couple, they shouted things like "Jesus Saves." Perhaps more offensively, Tyler writes, they were shabbily attired. That's certainly the gay way of looking at things, isn't it?