Voices of Honor: Cartoons in Kansas City
August 19, 2009
This post is from Jarrod Chlapowski, a U.S. Army veteran currently on the HRC/Servicemembers United "Voices of Honor" tour: For this week’s leg of the Tour, we decided to hit St. Louis, Kansas City, Lincoln, and Omaha in consecutive order given each location’s relative proximity to its surrounding events; i.e. Kansas City is about equidistant between St. Louis and Lincoln, allowing us to make the most of each trip and hit as many stops as possible in this leg. Incidentally, Kansas City is also relatively close to Topeka, which was made quickly evident by the members of the Phelps congregation who graciously provided us a welcoming committee. Rob Taylor, one of our panelists for the night who had arrived a few minutes before me and spent his waiting time watching the protestors, simply shook his head in wonder. A good friend from the Army and self-described evangelist from Tennessee attending seminary school in St. Louis, Rob did not feel any sort of affinity with these protesters, and expressed frustration with the caricatures of the religious community the Phelps clan represents. “I hope you understand, Jarrod, that most evangelists are not at all like these protesters,” Rob was quick to point out. Rob suspects among the most significant mistakes evangelists make is not engaging the gay community nearly enough, resulting in both sides interpreting the other as a “cartoon” that hardly represents reality. These cartoons aren’t restricted to the evangelical/LGBT community dichotomy.
A driving fear behind reluctance to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the reaction of less worldly service members to open service in the ranks, with the presumption that these service members would immediately start disobeying orders, abandoning the military en masse after spending a good amount of time harassing and beating up lesbian and gay service members of whom they were previously unaware. Of course this situation is preposterous, as such behavior does not define nor is representative of the very ideals the military stands behind, and it is incredibly insulting to every service member to proclaim otherwise. Yet the idea of mass rejection of a policy favoring open service is prolific among many in the dwindling population against repeal of DADT, despite the fact that the experiences of other countries with lifting their own bans have shown similar fears to be quite unfounded. Rob was invited to speak at the event last night to demonstrate the reality of his cartoon: that one of the more religious individuals I ever had the opportunity to serve with also is among the more accepting. That if we lift the ban, the troops will respond like troops are expected to respond: professionally and rather un-dramatically. That allowing gays to serve openly can only improve national security, and Rob, for one, is OK with that.
April 15, 2013