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George Heymont Headshot

I Had a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Dream (And John McCain's Not Gonna Like It)

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The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. isn't the only person to have had a transformative dream. I had one last night about a surprising topic with a guest appearance that could rival the Ghost of Christmas Past.

In order to understand my dream in its proper context, you should know that I have been a heavy dreamer for close to 40 years. Going to sleep is like going to a film festival devoted to the combined works of Rod Serling and Federico Fellini.

When dreaming, a person enters a different world in which the usual parameters and inhibitions no longer hold sway. Gravity is no longer a law of science. Images and thoughts which may have been buried deep in one's subconscious have a curious way of sprouting into full bloom. Astonishing things can happen.

Whereas First Lieutenant Dan Choi (who has become a most articulate spokesman for the importance of repealing the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy) has to deal with constant interruptions from Chris Matthews when he is interviewed on MSNBC, such challenges don't arise in my dreams.

In dreams you have no idea what may come out of your mouth. The beautiful and wondrous irrationality of a dream means that there are no bodyguards or security personnel to whisk you away from someone who would prefer not be the target of your wrath. You can open up both barrels and speak truth to power (in the gay community such rants used to be called "reading someone's beads").

Last night, the target of my wrath was none other than Senator John McCain, who has been doing a splendid -- and highly dysfunctional -- job of moving the goal posts on repeal of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. First he said that when the military recommended repeal of the policy, he would accept their wisdom. Then he started backtracking on his own words.

Now McCain is claiming that, because the leaked results of the Pentagon's survey indicate that military personnel are quite comfortable with LGBT troops being open about their sexual orientation, he wants a new study done. His homophobia and cowardice are appalling.

In my dream, I found myself in a Washington, D.C. hotel lobby surrounded by a group of drag queens attending a gay fundraising event. As a matter of fact, I was in drag, too! Suddenly the doors opened and John McCain was walking directly toward me. At that moment, with nothing to lose, I got right up in his face.

Many people who have gotten up in drag have found themselves able to say things they would not normally feel comfortable stating in real life. That's not an issue for me. I've been out of the closet for more than 40 years (which is longer than John McCain has been in Congress).

But when straight men are confronted by drag queens, they often don't know how to handle the situation. If confronted by a man, they would know how to dodge someone's unwanted presence. If confronted by a woman, they would know how to be condescending prior to beating a hasty retreat. A big, tough drag queen is quite another story.

And so, as John McCain stood in front of me looking like a scared, wrinkled, white-haired rat, I quickly hammered home the following points:

  • There are many ways to interpret Senator McCain's shiftlessness and recalcitrance, but in the long run his behavior is all about a desperate politician pathetically trying to maintain a media presence as he becomes increasingly bitter and irrelevant.
  • In his lust to remain king of the media mountain, McCain has no qualms about riding on the backs of much younger people by actively working to deny them the chance to serve their country.
  • For someone who has basked in the glory of being called a military hero for many years, McCain's contumacious behavior makes him so much less of a man than many of the LGBT troops who are currently serving their country.
  • It's no longer a question of whether McCain agrees or disagrees with those who wish to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." His conduct is unbecoming to those who are actively serving in the military, those who wish to serve in the military, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; and the nation's Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama who, during his 2010 State of the Union address announced that the time had come to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
  • Following her widely-touted appearance in an ad for the NoH8 campaign, Cindy McCain's sudden backtracking did little to enhance either her image or that of her husband.
  • And, finally, by constantly dishonoring the LGBT troops who are serving our country now -- and have proudly served America in the past -- Senator McCain is showing almost as much contempt for these American citizens as his North Vietnamese captors showed for him.

To read more of George Heymont go to My Cultural Landscape