Connect with us

Out October: My Journey To Lesbianhood: I Came Out Twice

Published

on

Editor’s note:

This is the second in our month-long series, “The Out October Project,” designed to “help bring realization into people’s lives that there are others out there,” and that, “there is hope in numbers, there is strength in support.” You can see all the stories here.

Today’s story is by Tanya Domi, a former Army Captain who served for fifteen years and was
honorably discharged in 1990.  During her career, she survived the Ft. Deven’s witchhunt (1974-1975) and later was investigated as a Captain.  She works at Columbia University in New York City and lives with her partner Deborah Kasner and Bailey, her golden retriever.

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, an enclave of intolerance for any difference, but especially so during the 1960s and 1970s.

When one grows up in an oppressive environment, you are either subsumed into that intolerance—collapsed into espousing it actively or by complicity in active silence—or you push back and resist and become an “outlaw,” which I became, although, even as a teen I was respected by many peers for my vocal advocacy of equality for African Americans and women.

It took a long time for me to figure out I was a lesbian. I think my journey began in the fifth grade when I played basketball and softball in an Indianapolis city parks program. I was totally enthralled with my coach—Lynda, who I will never forget—and did everything imaginable to secure her attention and obtain her approval. She was a great basketball player and an even better fast pitch softball player. Here was this strong woman, who was self-possessed and was distinctly identified in the world for her athletic prowess, not through marriage. Her existence opened up my world to other possibilities that were not espoused for women in the 1960s. One of my sweetest memories is sitting next to Lynda on the bench and smelling her, as she wore “Tabu,” one of the popular fragrances of that era.

If I had “grown” out of my crush on Lynda, it would have been dismissed as a phase, but I never grew up or out of it. Looking back, I now know that Lynda was my first crush on a woman.

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college I became aware that I was on the horns of self-discovery—something was different for me—it was clear to me that I was not interested in men. I became aware that Karen, the resident assistant on my floor at Indiana University, was in a very close relationship with a woman. I became envious of their intimacy and finally realized that I really wanted a similar kind of relationship. And yet, I had not become conscious of my sexual feelings for women. A passing caress by one of IU swimmers toward me during a study session so frightened me that I ran out of her room, never discussing it again. I loved the feeling of her touch, but I ran away because of its unfamiliarity and taboo. If I wanted her touch, what would that make me? I could not go there just yet.

By the time I enlisted in the Army in 1974 (an accidental career precipitated by the pending divorce of my parents), I was headed toward a total embrace of lesbianism, although unbeknownst to me.

When I arrived to Ft. McClellan, Alabama, it was nearly midnight. As new privates in the U.S. Army, we were efficiently lined up and issued linens, towels, and promptly sent to bed in the early hours of the morning. I heard the cries of women around me before falling into a short and restless sleep. Suddenly, the bay lights came on for the first full day in basic training as the platoon sergeant shouted “all you sleeping beauties, rise and shine!”

Despite many misgivings about my career choice, I enjoyed the regiment and the rhythm of training. Saturday nights in the laundry room were sessions in shoe shining, ironing and sharing platoon gossip. Finally, one night, Nancy, sitting on the floor next to me as we leaned against the dryer, told me she was a “lesbian” and tilted over to kiss me. I did not resist. I was wowed and thrilled by her boldness. Her kiss and our mutual crush through basic training, culminated in a thrilling and frustrating night of clumsy love making in an Army issued pup tent during our field training exercise before graduation. Those moments changed me forever.

By the time I arrived to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts in March 1974, I was in the early days of loving women—the lovely days of discovering “true love” and of having found oneself. Not knowing or fully appreciating the dangers of the love, we dare not speak of; I went to Boston for the weekend with a group of women, which included my first visit to a gay bar called “The Other Side.” It was a weekend that furthered self-discovery, completely innocent and full of excitement.

Upon our return to base, all of us who went to the gay bar were called into security and read our Miranda rights—the accusation was for being a homosexual, a lesbian. I was so young, and not fully out to myself and not to the world. The investigation began and would not end for 15 months. And yet, while the infamous Ft. Devens witch-hunt continued, unabated in its viciousness, I persisted in my dangerous exploration and fell in love with Karen, my first love. This genuine love affair of the heart prompted a phone call to my mother, who I thought would be supportive and embrace my new self-discovery.

I remember how happy I was—so joyful in really knowing love for the first time. The moment I told my mother I had fallen in love with a woman and I felt I was gay, she responded by telling me: “your life will be so terrible and lonely.” I was shocked by her response—immediately changing the moment to a bittersweet one. Her response would create another wall between us, which would lengthen over the years.

I finished out my enlistment and went back to university to complete my bachelor’s degree and obtained my officer’s commission, while I remained in the Army Reserves.

Because of the Reagan recession, I reentered the Army in 1982 and remained in the closet. Yes, I knew I was gay, but I thought I could make a career in the Army because I was good at it and I loved the life of being a soldier. I did not fully understand how the Army’s enforcement of the gay ban would affect me emotionally. While I remained in the closet hiding, I would establish a successful career as an Army officer that would lead to my nomination to teach at West Point. And yet despite all the success, an investigation into my sexuality, triggered by a report I had made about a colleague who had sexually harassed me, finally woke me up to the belief that I would never have a healthy and happy personal life in the Army. It would only be a matter of time before I was “caught” being a lesbian and my life could be ruined.

I paid an incredibly high price for remaining in the military closet for all those years. Consequently, I never had a healthy, intimate relationship until several years after I left the Army behind, well into my late 30s. As the gay military ban issue began to heat up because of public demands for repeal of the discriminatory policy by returning veterans who served in Desert Storm, I proudly and publicly joined out military colleagues at the Pentagon on Veterans Day in 1991 declaring myself a lesbian, while we engaged in a protest. The pride of being out, being honest and truthful about who I am was a relief and removed a burden that has never returned. Being truthful for the first time in my adult life about being lesbian, created the emotional space for my horizons to expand and put me on a trajectory that has made for a purposive, thrilling at times, engaging and interesting life. I only wish I had come out sooner.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

Published

on

U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

READ MORE: Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

Continue Reading

News

Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

Published

on

In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

 

 

 

Continue Reading

OPINION

‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

Published

on

Donald Trump’s first return to Capitol Hill since the violent and deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he fomented elicited responses of celebratory embrace, near-coronation, and a whitewashing of history from House and Senate Republicans and some of the mainstream media. That has critics sounding the alarm, likening their remarks to those of the subjects of authoritarian dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing who remains criminally indicted and out on bail in three other jurisdictions, an adjudicated rapist and fraudster who has been credibly accused by at least 18 to 23 or more women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct including harassment, assault, and rape, who allegedly had sex with a Playboy Bunny, and a porn star, the latter just four months after his third and current wife had given birth to their four-month old son.

He is a one-term, twice impeached ex-president who made over 30,000 “false or misleading claims” during his four years in the Oval Office, whose “inept and insufficient” response was in part responsible for about 40% of the COVID-19 pandemic deaths in the U.S., according to a February 2021 study that deemed them preventable.

And as of today, Donald Trump is 78 years old, and the subject of a New Yorker column published Friday alleging “age-related diminishment of a candidate.”

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

The ex-president met with House Republicans Thursday morning at the same restaurant where a pipe bomb was found outside on January 6, 2021. It’s just a seven-minute walk from the halls of Congress, where many of those same lawmakers who were jovially dining with and cheering on Trump, had huddled, hunkered-down, and fled through that centuries-old symbol of American democracy, afraid for their lives as supporters of the then-Commander-in-Chief – some of whom have said in court documents they believed were acting under his instructions – attacked the U.S. Capitol building and police, used the American flag as a spear, defecated on the walls, broke windows, damaged, destroyed, and stole U.S. Government property, hunted for the Democratic Speaker of the House, calling her by name, and hunted for the Republican Vice President, chanting their threats to “hang Mike Pence,” in a coordinated effort to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election he had lost by over seven million votes, and 74 Electoral College votes.

None of that matters now to the people’s elected representatives of the Republican Party in the House and Senate.

U.S. Senator, venture capitalist, and former “Never Trumper,” J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Thursday, walking in Washington, D.C. after he and nearly all of the Republican Senators met with Donald Trump and gave him a 30-second standing ovation, told reporters the GOP has absolved Trump of guilt and responsibility for the deadly insurrection three years ago.

“Well look, I think no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January the 6th. Frankly, some of his critics were in the room (Thursday) and were supportive and are supportive. So I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party’s in a good place.”

After House Republicans had breakfast with Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, criticized for apparently not remembering Congress is a co-equal brach of the U.S. government and Donald Trump is no longer a leader of any branch of government, glowingly bragged the ex-president “said I’m doing a very good job.”

Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman, blasted Senate Republicans after they met with Trump, saying they “just rolled the red carpet out and welcomed him back with smiles and handshakes.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

He posted a photo of Trump warmly shaking hands with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly had not spoken to Trump since before the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S Capitol, and on that day declared him “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection.

Journalist and Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar posted a “supercut” of Republicans responding to Trump’s visit, also likening their embrace to how subjects speak of dictators.

Award-winning Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall praised Rupar and blasted Republicans: “For all the ‘triumphant returns’ and ‘Trumps flexes’ and all the rest I don’t think anyone beside @atrupar really captured it. This was Pyongyang in the Rotunda. The maniacal clapping in unison, MTG almost breaking down in tears cuz Trump smiled at her. Total North Korea vibe.”

Critics are slamming not only House and Senate Republicans, but the mainstream media’s coverage, especially a social media post by the Associated Press, which declared Trump’s return to D.C. “triumphant,” a term often reserved for a conquering or undefeated hero.

Veteran journalist and D.C. Bureau Chief of Mother Jones, David Corn, co-author of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” criticized the AP’s post, saying: “Sounds like a North Korean report.”

Award-winning journalist Steve Silberman called the AP’s post, “an instant candidate for the Museum of American Fascism.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Buttigieg on Martha-Ann Alito: Flags Symbolizing Love vs. Insurrection Are Different

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.