As a gay male I have very strong opinions quite different from those in Ms. Joaquin’s column (“Rally Toward Equality,” Daily Nexus, May 1.) First of all, let me address her concerns that the military is one big propaganda machine. I have to ask, what else would you expect from our government? It is a business, just like any other, that needs to do all it can to appeal and recruit. If “hypermasculinity” and propaganda are what it takes to help people want to fight for this country, then so be it. Somebody has to fight so that we can enjoy the amazing freedoms we have in America today.

Okay, things are not perfect. Gay people can’t get married and women often times still get paid less than men for the same jobs. But guess what, we still have more personal freedoms than nearly any other country – not to mention opportunities for education, wealth, unlimited childbirth and freedom of expression. Whether you agree with the current war (and that is another argument), you do have to realize that war in America’s past has helped us become the safe, economic superpower that we are today. Without propaganda, we might not have recruited enough soldiers to defeat the Nazis in WWII or abolish slavery in the south. The military is simply doing what it needs to do. If you want to educate yourself, fine. Take the initiative. But if “honor” and “discipline” appeal to someone else, why would you feel the need to tag them as idiots who can’t see the “real issues” behind military recruiting.

As for your comment about gays in the military: enough with the human rights. If you’re angry about Iraq, stick to that. Don’t bring up other issues and parade them as human rights. It’s easy to argue about human rights from the beach in Santa Barbara. In reality, things are much more complicated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equal rights. But the way I see it, sexuality – of any kind – is infelicitous in the military. If my sexuality is going to make someone uncomfortable or compromise the integrity of the unit, then I’m a big enough person to keep my homosexuality to myself.

What do you think these people go to war for? To find a fuck buddy? Sexuality is personal and should stay that way – especially in a situation where there are far more important things to worry about. Sometimes, even here at UCSB, I have to pretend to be straight to make a situation more comfortable for everyone. I’m willing to shut my mouth about it and move on for the benefit of the larger good. I’m not so selfish that I feel the world has to revolve around my sexuality. People who may not be comfortable around gay people aren’t necessarily “haters.” Some are just ignorant or uncomfortable with themselves. Holding a machine gun in the jungle is not exactly the place for them to work out their issues.

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is not a human rights violation – it is a decision intended to benefit the army as a whole. From my experience, sometimes not telling can save a lot of trouble. My grandmother’s best friend – who just celebrated his 80th birthday – is a homosexual. He served in WWII. Not only did he fight, he actually helped lead the navy to victory in numerous battles. When he got out, the army paid for his complete education and helped him get a great job on the ground floor of IBM. He was fine concealing his sexuality for the greater good of his battalion and his life. Though he later came out to his “army friends,” at the time he realized that his homosexuality would have compromised the comfort level between recruits. He was noble enough to put his “identity” on the shelf while serving his country and defeating Hitler.

I think it’s great that you’re all about human rights. But look around you. Things are pretty good. We had a queer wedding last week and many queers on campus will tell you that they feel plenty comfortable being themselves or expressing their individuality. But there is a time to shut up and not be flaming. We have to use discretion and know when something is appropriate and when it is not. After you serve and realize that there are far bigger battles than coming out to your mates, come talk to me. In the meantime, stop parading anti-war sentiments as a fight for human rights. If you want to fight for human rights, join the army.

Randall Shulman is a senior English major.