Bill sent me this link about two soldiers getting married at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. See here. This one has special significance for me because just last summer I was threatened with physical violence by a distant cousin of mine when he asked me if I was gay (actually he said "There is a rumor that you practice the gay lifestyle? Is that true?" When I answered "If you're asking me if I'm gay, I am." Then he said to me "If you step foot on my parent's property (I was visiting with Bill and my cousin Bob T. and his wife researching our family history) you have me to deal with! You got that bud?"
|My cousin Jerry R. (the big guy in green) with his parents (his mother is my cousin) during a more friend visit two years ago before he heard the rumors I was "Quare"|
Well, I'm not ashamed to admit that I was intimidated because I was in those western North Carolina mountains near the Tennesse border where my father grew up and where homophobia is alive and well and abysmal ignorance like my cousin's flourishes. They have guns up there.
I was in a section of the country where gay men like me are referred to as "Quares". This is the same North Carolina that has outlawed marriage equality. The same North Carolina that has the most restrictive voting in the country.
I also have a tenuous link to Fort Bragg. When I was in the Army, I attended Army Security Agency training at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.
|Goofy me at Ft. Devens (give me a break, I was only 18 years old)|
|Me (left) with my buddies Bill A. and Dick E. at Ft. Devens, a break between the classes)|
He wanted to be closer to his home in Norwood, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia) and said he was going to choose Ft. Meade, Maryland, home of the National Security Agency. There was only one allocation left for Ft. Meade. I wanted to be with him because he was my good friend (no romantic interest, never was even after I found out he was gay) but I did have a great friendship with him. So when it came time to choose I chose Ft. Meade instead and thus had probably the best 2 1/2 years of my life.
|Me (fourth from the right in the back) with my buddies/classmates at Ft. Devens April 1960|
Even though the NSA and Ft. Meade was notorious for gay witch hunts I survived and made two good gay friends (both gone now). But every time I see a reference to Ft. Bragg I think of what could have been and how much my life would have changed.
|Sal and Ron H., my gay (and best) friends at Ft. Meade standing before the poster of the Broadway type show they put on at the Service Club at Ft. Mead (I made the poster, they did the show, I missed that "Broadway Show" gene)|
But here I am rambling when I just want to show you this heartwarming video of a wedding in Ft. Bragg. My, my how times have changed.
|Me (second from left) with my Army buddies at Ft. Devens, spring of 1960|