Friday, September 23, 2011

The Score: Military Out, UFOs Still In

UFOs? Yep, but not until the end. . .

Jake sat on the porch next to Uncle Bubba and Aunt Florence, each sipping a mint julep on this hot August night in the early seventies. Bubba still wore the hood from his Klan outfit, too tired and far too proud to remove it after a particularly grueling rally in the woods. He only lifted it far enough to drink. "Don't that jes' beat all?" Bubba asked the stars above. "The govamint don't let us go after the coloreds no more, can't even mess with the Jews! But I'll tell ya one thing I know for sure," continued Bubba, now looking Jake straight in the eye. "We still got to deal with the ho-mo-sexurals! The govamint ain't never, never gonna care about them abomina-shuns! I'm tellin' ya true, if the day ever comes when they lets fags and queers serve in the Army or Navy, hell, that'll be the day the govamint finally fesses up with the truth about flying saucers! Ain't gonna happen!" Jake finished his drink, shook his head and excused himself because he was leaving the small town and heading for Atlanta, where the variety of bars and recreational establishments he preferred to the local redneck hangouts would horrify Uncle Bubba. Jake wanted one more wild weekend in the city, his secret safe from all but his distant contacts, before his pending military enlistment based on a lie. . .

As even Uncle Bubba would know by now, the times they have a-changed, and what should have never been an issue in the U.S. military has been settled at last. A young person wishing to serve his or her country with the necessary talents can now sign up without that timeworn interrogation regarding the position of one's sexual orientation on life's precarious compass. Unfortunately, the government hasn't much to say about that OTHER truth.

It's times like this when I miss the heck out of the late Arizona Senator (and USAF general) Barry Goldwater. Not only did he speak out openly about the government hiding UFO information -- he also chided officials for condoning a ridiculous ban on gays in the Armed Forces.

Time Magazine. . .September 8, 1975. . .the cover that shocked America (pictured). Air Force Technical Sgt. Leonard Matlovich dared to confess The Big Forbidden, in uniform yet, at his own peril, as he fought officials in 1975 for the right to serve. Matlovich, a 12-year Air Force veteran awarded both the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for combat heroics involving three tours of duty in Vietnam, couldn't perform the desperate heroics needed to save his own career bacon once the military found out he was gay. There were lawsuits as Matlovich and the government fought one other, and in the end the airman, discharged against his will, won $160,000 from the feds in exchange for promising not to attempt readmission into the USAF.

The seventies even brought the country a TV movie about Matlovich's struggles, and after he died in the summer of 1988 from AIDS he was buried with full honors at Congressional Cemetery in Washington. Upon Matlovich's tombstone are two pink triangles, memorializing symbols the Nazis used during World War II to designate homosexuals (and since adopted by gay rights advocates). Underneath is the inscription Matlovich wrote himself for inclusion on the stone after his death:

A Gay Vietnam Veteran:
When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men
and a discharge for loving one.

To those who remember the Matlovich controversy, his self-epitaph might seem the end of the story, but for me the more interesting part is his burial site, located not 20 yards away from the final resting place of both former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and his long-time associate Clyde Tolson -- alleged and assumed now to be part and parcel of the most famous closeted gay relationship ever known between two men in the upper echelons of U.S. government.

(For readers uninspired by today's subject matter, we note that Hoover also apparently maintained quite an interest in "flying saucer" reports known to the FBI. You may already have seen the trailer for a motion picture about Hoover's life starring Leonardo DeCaprio, directed by Clint Eastwood, set for release in November, and it will almost certainly deal with Hoover's sexual side, but not his UFO curiosity, automatically destined to merit zero attention. When it comes to "dramatic license" influencing caricature-like Hollywood motion picture "bio-pics," any emphasis upon a prominent person's UFO interest is truly equivalent to the proverbial fart in a crowded room. To put it delicately.)