Diversity Requires Open-Mindedness

By David Small

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I totally stole that quote from somebody’s OKCupid profile. But it got me thinking. As a community who claims to embrace diversity and celebrates Pride with a rainbow flag representing the many faces of the LGBT community, we can be some of the most close-minded people on the planet sometimes.

Gay boys shun lesbians, faking sickness over the mere mention of lady parts. Bisexuals are told to get off the fence. Twinks won’t socialize with bears (We won’t eat you, but don’t get between me and the pizza!). And lets not even talk about how we openly welcome transgender people into our ranks, but then don’t understand how the T fits in with LGB.

Not everybody in our community is like this, but such attitude can be rampant in cliques. How can we embrace diversity across the country when we barely embrace it among ourselves?

When I was asked to lead the OutServe blog, I sought to recruit 10 diverse opinions representing as many different views as possible to create a conversation about the issues that affect our community. While not all of these folks have posted something yet, we are slowly growing our ranks.

Upcoming potential contributors include a gay USAFA cadet, a lesbian focused on gay families, an operator, an African-American, a deployed senior enlisted guy, and a transgender Army officer.

Actively blogging today, we have a combat female veteran, a political pundit, a gay conservative, a Marine commander, and me, a Reservist.

We are also actively seeking prominent individuals from various other groups to capitalize on their notoriety and bring people in to OutServe. It’s a great marketing ploy to increase advertising!

I want to talk about one particular blogger I recruited and whom I call a personal friend. R. Clarke Cooper. In his civilian capacity, he is the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. I met him years ago when he was a Bush appointee and reconnected with him through the Reserve Officers Association.

It is time for our community, in its efforts toward diversity, to admit there does indeed exist a rare organism: the gay republican. These are an idealistic breed for sure… thinking that the government should be smaller than it is now, and in its reduction in size, remove itself from our bedrooms.

Yes, folks, when you surgically remove the Christian right from the republican base, at their core, idealistic republicans could be described more an advocate for gay rights than idealistic democrats—at least if we were in the 1800s. Complications have been added since. But I certainly applaud Clarke for taking up the flag and running.

We might also open our eyes and count the votes for DADT repeal and realize without the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans advocating our collective cause, we wouldn’t have had the republican votes necessary for repeal.

Clarke has told me he feels more comfortable as an out gay man at the Republican National Committee, than as an out conservative in LGBT circles. Ironic huh?

My politics are broad. I happen to think Mr. Obama has been an absolutely fantastic president. But I’ve also voted republican in the past and endured the self-hater remarks.

I know that people realize there is more than one opinion. Please also recognize that the OutServe blog is just an avenue to foster conversation. Discourse will only strengthen our community for the better, but we need to be open-minded and actually listen to each other. We can’t talk over each other all the time.  Doing so is the exact problem we face with those who collectively despise us for religious or moral reasons.


About David Small

David Small, editor of OutServe Magazine’s blog, is a Major in the Air Force Reserve, stationed in New York, N.Y. Small’s perspective speaks to the everyday service member who may be working side by side with an LGBT coworker.

View all posts

  1. David Small
    February 24, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    AD… I don’t think ROA has enough people who care about it as members anymore to be a change agent. Having been on their national staff, Its an association that without radical change won’t see its 100th birthday in 10 years. So if you do decide to reengage with them, know that it will be an uphill battle. Associations like OutServe and IAVA are the new association model… no membership dues, relying instead on the generosity of sponsors and donors… and instilling a sense of community to the association goals that will keep the membership engaged. ROA has no ability to do that right now.

  2. AD
    February 23, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Maj Small-
    I was an active part of ROA while that resolution was on the books and I’m quite certain I know the core group that worked on getting it removed. A step in the right direction. Perhaps it’s time for me to reengage…

    Perhaps germane to your BLOG, asking at its core how we as a community expect others to accept us when we can’t accept our own? ROA could serve as a clear model for how change action occurs. Unfortunately, education alone is not completely effective in change of opinions that are ingrained over the courses of decades. How do you educate someone to understand that since the day you were born, you knew you were attracted to the same gender? Or even more difficult to educate and comprehend; being born one gender feeling like you should be the other, attracted to the gender you were born into? ROA conventions are not necessarily a mirror of the entire population of reserve officers; but those that can afford to attend, i.e. older retired officers. Some truly wonderful dedicated patriotic officers. That said, with the passage of time (the true remedy mixed with exposure and education) the organization’s cultural demographic will change.

    The LGB community has made numerous strides in the last few years. Prejudice will always exist, even within our own L, G, B, and T communities alone and as a collective.
    Perhaps the T will be a little behind as time passes. As our generations age and time passes, our attitudes will also become more accepting of a new norm.

  3. David Small
    February 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    AD: Depending on when you last did anything with ROA… For years they had a resolution to go back to pre-DADT times. It was a hateful legislative agenda. In 2010, I think, a few brave members stood up and abolished that resolution, however were not successful in getting a new resolution to support repeal of DADT. There were a few pieces in their magazine discussing the new “non” position and a few gay trades covered the fact that the organization repealed their former stance. However, after DADT, ROA failed to publish my letter to the editor outing the fact there are LGBT people within their ranks, on their national staff, at their conventions and serving on their executive board. I didn’t name names, but thought the membership should know we were there. I think they have stayed away from the issue since.

  4. AD
    February 22, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Just curious, since you mention ROA. It’s been years since I’ve been to a meeting. How is the organization behaving under the repeal of DADT?

Leave a reply



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *