This holiday season I need to remember.
I need to remember that, although my soldier is safe and sound beside me as I write this, there are thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers serving right now in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are no perfect families – most of us become acutely aware of our varying levels of familial disfunction this time of the year. Stress levels soar as we deal as best we can with competing demands and obligations. For the partners of our gay and lesbian servicemembers, there are additional layers of stress heaped upon all the others.
I know you’re out there. Thousands and thousands of you. I know it’s hard to be alone over the holidays. I know how hard it is to keep talking in code when you desperately long to say, “I love you. I need you.” I know what it’s like to be afraid that you let something slip that will get your soldier kicked out. I know what it’s like to hear the fear and pain in your soldier’s voice and not be able to say the soothing words they need to hear the most. I know what it’s like to fight back the sickening fear each day the phone doesn’t ring. I know the sting of injustice felt every minute you realize that your love isn’t valued, your love doesn’t count, your love isn’t allowed.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have our soldier home with us right now still live with the daily reality of having to hide our relationship and the very real fear of violating DADT in any number of ways.
But you are not alone. Servicemembers United is reaching out to the partners of our gay and lesbian soldiers. We are still in the beginning stages, but there is strength in numbers.
Feel free to contact me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
If any of you feel the need to talk to a mental health professional, The Soldiers Project provides “free confidential counseling to those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan AND their loved ones… spouses, children AND same sex partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, extended family etc. Anyone who has been affected by the deployment of their loved one.”
More to come…
**If you or your partner need (or might think you need) help dealing with the effects of wartime service, the following organizations provide free, confidential, and gay friendly counseling:**