Friday, October 16, 2009
Earlier tonight I went to Philadelphia's GLBT community center to see an amazing exhibit centered around gay men in the Nazi concentration camps. The Holocaust Museum in DC put it together. We also saw the film "Paragraph 175," a chilling documentary which includes interviews with the remaining gay men who survived the death camps.
The representative of The Holocaust Museum spoke about the exhibit, but there was NO Q&A! So I approached him myself. I told him about the gay men who are being hunted down in Iraq RIGHT NOW, openly hunted down, tortured BEYOND IMAGINATION, and finally murdered. New York Magazine published this article sent to me by my dear friend Jen Benka.
But I asked the representative how The Holocaust Museum felt about gays in the military, considering that OUR MILITARY is DIRECTLY responsible for creating this HORRIFIC very present, very real genocide against gay men? He said, LITERALLY, "We're very proud of the fact that we are bipartisan, and do not take sides in political debates." WHAT???? But you're THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM I said! He said something else like, "It's very unfortunate that this is happening...." Unfortunate? UNFORTUNATE?
Here we were. Standing in a room. Reading about. Talking about. Learning details about. Gay murder. But that was half a century ago. And the men in the film were all very old, in their 90s, and would break down recounting the TERROR they had each absorbed. (this kind of torture NEVER goes away!) One man telling of The Singing Forest. And he said that The Singing Forest gave him goose bumps, then he just stared ahead, saying nothing, just, staring. The interviewer prodded him out of his private memory. The man told of the Nazis putting gay men on hooks on these very tall polls, and you could hear them screaming and wailing inhuman sounds all night long.
There was, of course, NO NEED to torture them. I mean, JUST KILL THEM, why do that WHY DO THAT? And if you read the article linked for New York Magazine you'll see that the gay men in Iraq are being DRILLED, holes drilled in their limbs, and, once again JUST KILL THEM. The details are haunting.
It's haunting and we are witnessing this happening again. This slogan SO IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN for The Holocaust is really bugging me! BUT IT IS HAPPENING, AND, WE'RE GAY, IN THIS FUCKING GAY COMMUNITY CENTER, TOGETHER, AND NO ONE, NO ONE WOULD TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS!
Every, single, person I did speak to said the same thing, like a loop of prerecorded tape, "The war in Iraq and gays in the military are separate issues." NO, no they are NOT! They are separate because YOU MAKE THEM SEPARATE ISSUES, but they ARE the same. They're BOTH about the military. Our military. The military of the United States of America which has allowed this atrocity to sweep itself into a frenzy, this genocide of gay men.
What a horrible, frustrating night. And as Jen Benka said in an email to me about Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "Don't Serve, Don't Serve."
Less than a week ago, to coincide with Coming Out Week functions, a large march of "protestors" marched in DC to demand their "right" to join the military.
And we have people in the new anthology SMASH THE CHURCH, SMASH THE STATE who are even behind the "right" for gays to join the military. WHAT IS GOING ON???? You're in an anthology with SMASH THE STATE in the title, yet you uphold The Enforcer Arm of the State, which is the military. Wanting to make the military what? One big cozy, warm, gay friendly environment? What? Rainbow stickers on machine guns?
This is kind of fucking exhausting, talking about something that seems to make perfect sense to people who literally RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU refuse to get it. They're not stupid. That's what's frustrating.