Need to accept people's differences

Editor:

Rather than defending myself as well as much of the gay community, I feel a short explanation might help army soldier John Murillo understand my concern of ROTC operating on the University of Arizona campus. I would like to address some of the issues that Mr. Murillo has stated in his letter ( "Military man speaks out on ROTC policy" Feb. 16).

To begin, I have empathy for Mr. Murillo's legal blindness in his right eye. According to military policy, I am too disabled. I have been an asthmatic since I was 6 years old and am flat-footed as well. I guess my chances of being a soldier someday are very minimal (especially now that I have told even though no one asked). My point is that I do understand how it feels to be discriminated against for physical reasons. I also happen to be Jewish which has led me to be discriminated against for both religion and ethnicity. But my point here is not to have the student body feel sorry for me being a gay, Jewish, flat-footed, asthmatic (call Oprah). It is actually an attempt to explain that sexual orientation has nothing to do with being "the best trained, best equipped" soldier that Mr. Murillo has spoken of.

Being a homosexual is not exactly what you have anticipated it to be. You simplify the gay lifestyle by saying that it is just a "behavior or physical act." Because I cannot speak for the entire gay community, I will summarize my personal, "closeted," gay life.

I began having sexual and EMOTIONAL feeling toward men around the time of puberty. But these feelings were condemned by the society that surrounded me, so I knew I had to fight away these "bad" feelings and pretend as if they were not there. The internal hate toward myself led me to attempt SUICIDE. Luckily, the pills did not do the job, so I continued living my life of internal hate. Along came college, which unfortunately did not bring me HAPPINESS which I had anticipated. Rather than attempting suicide again, I escaped the cruel reality by using DRUGS to alleviate this emotional pain. But the drugs only helped me temporarily. So I quit them and turned to the man in the mirror and acknowledged my HOMOSEXUALITY. Since then, I have learned to accept my DIFFERENCES and I am attempting to educate those who do not understand the gay lifestyle.

Hopefully, the above brief summary of my personal experience helps Mr. Murillo and those who share his opinion that being gay is NOT A CHOICE. Why would I add this "controversy" to my life just for the hell of it or just to expand my sexual horizon? Do you really think I like people hating me? Please reconsider your hate or negative opinions toward the gay lifestyle. I know that my friends and family have. Don't be surprised if the next person to exit that closet door is your best friend, family or even your sergeant or colonel. Hopefully they will be alive when they tell you.

Mr. Murillo also states that "I cannot claim to be Oriental or a senior citizen without being challenged because I am not it is OBVIOUS." It is not obvious to you which gender is your sexual preference? It is to me. After years of internal avoidance, I can finally admit it without being ashamed. Therefore, it is not my choice to be emotionally and sexually attracted to men. It is a part of me. I did not choose this lifestyle, I was chosen.

So, I am gay (if I forgot to mention), and even though I might not qualify for the military because of my physical disabilities, other gays are extremely qualified. In fact, they are and could be these "best equipped and strongest" soldiers that Mr. Murillo has mentioned. But only if you let them. Sexual activity, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, is not part of the military agenda. Therefore, ANYONE participating (straight or gay) in a sexual act on military premises should be banned from the program.

As for ROTC being a part of the UA program, we are allowing this discrimination to occur. Some may think that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is fair because it allows gays in the military. It can also be stated as, "Gays are welcome who are in the closet." This is exactly the period of my life (being closeted) which was discussed in my story above. Therefore, we are unintentionally encouraging students to abuse drugs and possibly leading them to commit suicide. My anticipated action of removing or changing the existing ROTC program on campus is not only to discourage discrimination, but hopefully will save lives.

Jonathan Bierner

Psychology Senior

Undergraduate Senator

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