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Azanean Petty

WRA 140- 008


Dr. Birdsall
26, April 2015

The Members of the LGBT Community and their Connection to the Police and Military

Societal norms on gender expression and what makes sexuality normal or abnormal is
slowly changing overtime. Although societal attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgendered people are improving, the LGBT culture is still one of Americas subcultures that
face on going discrimination within the law enforcement and the military. Transgender and Gay
individuals experience high rates of discrimination and harassment on a daily basis at their
workplace and in public. Since, there are no laws that exist to protect them and shield them from
this type of wrong doing they have a tendency to be the victims of backlash and oppression. One
area of American culture where the LGBT people still face discrimination and persecution is the
military and the law enforcement. However, in the last ten years America has become more
accepting of the members of the LGBT community and therefore policing and the military has
also become more accepting.
The term homosexual was first used by Karl Kertbeny in a pamphlet in 1869. In this
pamphlet he argued for the annulment of Prussias anti-homosexual laws. The word homosexual
combines the Greek word for same with the Latin word for sex. In todays society many
people have different perceptions on the concept of gay. Some people refer to gay as being
happy and others refer to it as being homosexual. So what does gay truly mean? As of today
gay is meant to be referred to as a man or woman who is homosexual. This word has been

publically used by people since the late 1960s when the word gay was adopted by homosexual
women and men in the early gay civil rights movement. In early decades the word gay was seen
as a positive substitution to the word homosexual, but now it is used in a derogatory and
demeaning way.
The next umbrella term used to describe the members of the LGBT community are
lesbians. Lesbians are women whose primary feelings of sexual attraction are for other women.
The word lesbian stems from the name of a Greek Island called Lesbos. The word lesbian was
created by a professor known for her poetry that celebrated the love between women named
Sappho. Over time, the word lesbian which use to just be referred to people who lived on Lesbos
Island, came to mean a woman who like Sappho loved other women. (Marcus 4)
Another term use to describe people within the LGBT community are bisexuals. Bisexual
is a term used to describe a person who has feelings of sexual attraction for women and men. But
many find this term to be misleading. The term is perceived to be misleading because it suggest
that people can have the same strength of feelings for both men and women. However, humans
are far more intriguing and complex than that and usually have stronger feelings of sexual
attraction for one gender opposed to the other one.
The last term used to define the LGBT community is transgender. Transgender is an
umbrella term that is used to cover broad ranges of gender expressions. These expressions
include drag queens and kings, transsexuals, cross-dressers, and transgenderists. Transgendered
individuals are people who find their gender identity in conflict with their anatomical gender,
Transsexuals often feel as though they are imprisoned inside of the wrong body. In other words,
a woman may feel as though she belongs in a mans body and a man might feel as though he
belongs in a womans body.

As of today societal attitudes towards homosexuality has changed, however this does not
right the wrongs that people within the LGBT community faced in prior years. LGBT individuals
have endured a lot of discrimination in brutality in the past due to their sexual orientation. The
discrimination against the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community
based on their sexual orientation is a concern that affects all of us and transcends the LGBT
community. All people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity should be able to
enjoy their human rights and live stress free lives that involve happiness and endless joy.
However, this was not always the case across the globe in prior years. Many people were faced
with instances that led to face execution, imprisonment, torture, violence and discrimination just
because of their sexual orientation. According to the Amnesty Journal in many countries, the
refusal of government to address violence committed against people in the LGBT community led
to a culture of impunity. Back in the day homophobes could wear badges and carry guns openly
and inflict brutality onto the people in this subculture and go unpunished for doing so. In an
article written by Walter Armstrong titled Brutality in Blue the story of Edward Thompson
was examined. Edward Thompson experienced police brutality due to his sexual orientation.
Edward Thompson who goes by the name Rachel is a transgendered woman that was
pulled over by a police and harassed because of his sexual orientation. The officer called her all
types of derogatory names which included faggot and fin queer. After the insults the officer
drugged Rachel out of the car and kicked her repeatedly while his partner just stood back and
watched. This event led to Rachel jumping off of a bridge and attempting to commit suicide.
Rachel is not the only one, transgender individuals predominantly woman and young people are
exposed to the most police brutality. According to the Amnesty International report people of
color, youth, the homeless, and immigrants are the members in the LGBT community that are at

greater risk to police abuse. Hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT individuals constitute
the third highest category of hate crimes reported to the FBI (civilrights.org). This is
unacceptable because homosexuals are human beings that should be treated with the upmost
respect and should not be discriminated against because of their sexuality.
As a result of this societys outlook concerning same sex relationships have changed over
the past decade. In a 2013 report, 92% of adults who are a part of the LGBT subculture said that
they believed that society has become more accepting of them than in the past ten years
dszyfmate together opposed to having same sex relations, to having integration between same
sex relations and acceptance. The United States as a country and a society has come from
repressing the LGBT culture through mechanisms that took place through the judicial system, as
well as forbidding it under the death penalty, to rallying for laws that protect the members of the
LGBT community.
The role that the police has served in the LGBT community has changed over the past ten
years. In previous years police officers use to inflict mental and physical pain on this subculture
and discriminate against them. As a result of this it would be highly uncommon for you to see a
homosexual police officer in law enforcement. This is due to the fact that policing is perceived to
be a field dominated by white, masculine, and heterosexual ethos. Yet, today in the 21st century
homosexual officers are pleading with the courts and society to change the stigma that was
placed on the police culture, in order to make being a gay officer more acceptable.
Diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are a major part of the human condition.
However, there has been attempts to silence the LGBT population. The right to freedom of
expression covers the right to freely express their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some
police officers and staff are not confident with being out in their police forces, particularly as

they transcend through the ranks due to homophobia. As a result of this they tend to censor their
homosexuality and behavior. Having to hide their actual selves and pretend to be something
and someone that they are not is mentally exhausting and detrimental to their physical and
mental health. In an article written by Kristen Myers, Kay Forrest, and Susan Miller, titled
Officer Friendly and the Tough Cop the attempts that people have tried in order to expand
social diversity within policing was explored. Since, policing is dominated by a white,
masculine, and heterosexual ethos, employment of lesbians and gay men as a police officers may
be viewed as a threat to this occupation. The article touched on the context of potential hostility
and homophobia that nontraditional officers must face and negotiate their contradictory
presences on the police force. This is due to the fact that they do not belong to the normal
tradition of the police culture which includes white heterosexual males. Since, policing is an
occupation that is gendered and sexualized gay officers must negotiate their status within their
organizations, their perceptions, and relationships with internal groups in order to manage their
images as good cops, even though their sexual orientation defies social and gender norms
within the police enforcement. This is disturbing because it implies that homosexual officers are
not capable of serving and protecting people adequately.
LGBT officers tend to keep up their perceived images by constructing multiple identities
of sexual orientation, gender, and race-ethnicity in their workplace. However, according to an
article titled Diversity in Blue gay officers struggled to balance job demands due to the fact
that their sexual orientation is different from the social norms and is seen as a threat to the ethos
of policing. In a recent interview Sergeant Charlie Cochrane of the New York City Police
Department talked about serving on the police force openly in the backlash and persecution that
he received for doing so. Sergeant Cochrane is the founder and president of the Gay Officers

Action League better known as GOAL. In his interview he covered his decision to publicly admit
his homosexuality and the attitudes that his fellow officers had towards him. Even though
Cochrane had served on the police force for 17 years, he stated that his coming out evoked
neglect from most of his fellow officers and only sympathy from a few. In addition to this, this
interview touched on the depression that Sergeant Cochrane faced and his reasons for forming
GOAL. Cochrane stated that he formed GOAL in order to help others avoid confusion, selfdoubt, and self-hate that he had experienced and to show the legitimacy of homosexuality as a
different lifestyle rather than the sick stigma that has been attached to it. (Miller et al).
Police officers are not the only people to serve our country that experience/experienced
backlash for being homosexual. Military service members also face stereotypes and backlash due
to their homosexuality. The U.S. militarys current policy regarding gay people which dates back
to 1993, is known as Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue. The policy was implicated in 1993
as a compromise by congress in regards to the defense directive that President Ronald Reagan set
in place. The defense directive stated that homosexuality is incompatible with military service
which meant that being gay was unacceptable and therefore prohibited within the military. As a
result of this people who engaged in homosexual acts or stated that they were homosexual or
bisexual were discharged. During the first ten years that this policy was implicated 10,000
service members were discharged from the military for failing to keep their homosexuality a
secret, this is according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network [www.sldn.org]. SLD is
a gay rights group that monitors the armed services and provides assistance to LGBT service
members hurt by antigay policies inflicted by the military. Gay and Lesbian people are alleged to
be a security hazard because they can be blackmailed by people threatening to reveal their secret.

In addition to this it is believed that their presence will be detrimental to discipline and good
order, especially as it relates to privacy.
Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue has been the main policy that regulates gay and
lesbian service members. This policy was designed to inhibit the members of the LGBT
community from serving in the military openly, and limit the militarys ability to investigate
soldiers sexual orientation (Berlatsky 15). Therefore, service members may continue to serve in
the military as long as they hide the fact that they are gay or lesbian. Even though Dont Ask,
Dont Tell, Dont Pursue does not apply to transgender soldiers because they do not identify
themselves as being gay, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
transgendered members are perceived to be gay or lesbian by authorities in the military. As a
result of this they are prosecuted under Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue. Dont Ask, Dont
Tell, Dont Pursue has been the cause of over 13,000 soldiers being discharged which put them
under incalculable stress. Okros who is a retired Captain stated that Forcing [gay service men
and women] to have to regulate their behavior, censor themselves, and pretend to be somebody
theyre not, is putting them at risk. Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue is a forfeiture of peace
of mind and job security.
Since, Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue was seen as a forfeiture of peace of mind and
job security, on December 18, 2010 the Senate voted 65-31 to repeal it. As a result of this the 17
year ban on gays serving openly in the military ended. In addition to this Gay and Lesbian
service members who were previously discharged under Dont Ask, Dont Tell, Dont Pursue
were given the opportunity to re-enlist.
Is homosexuality normal? Is it unnatural? What is normal and who gets to decide? Some
people may see being homosexual as unnatural or even appalling. Others may think that gay or

lesbian service members and police officers threaten the ethos and morals of the military and law
enforcement. But this does not make it right for these individuals to be persecuted and
discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. We were given free will and basic
rights to live a life of freedom, but still and yet these individuals have to pay a price and hide
who they really are because of the norms that society has placed upon them. It is not against the
law to be a gay or lesbian person, and therefore I wish that people would treat the members of
the LGBT community with the love and respect that they would want to be treated with. There
are no laws set into stone that are against feelings of sexual attraction, and there are no laws that
forbid sexual relations between consenting adults of the same gender or opposite gender. As a
result of this the members of the LGBT community should not be oppressed or discriminated
against, and they should have the same rights and opportunities as their counterparts
(heterosexuals) and the freedom to live their life openly without fearing discrimination and
persecution.

Why do I deserve this?

For the last couple of years Ive been censoring my behavior, my sexual orientation, and
pretending to be something and someone that I am not. Being someone who I am not intended to
be is mentally exhausting and detrimental to my physical and mental health. Ive been going
days without eating and sleeping and abusing my body in every way you can possibly think of by
neglecting it. Am I intentionally hurting myselfNo! Other people are hurting me by making
me feel as though I do not belong in their world and making me feel as if I have to hide who I am
just to fit in at work. The comments that my coworkers make about homosexuals are so
derogatory and disturbing I refuse to come out to them. Whenever someone displays their
homosexuality the people at my job make snotty comments about them and demean them.
Just the other day I heard one of my coworkers calling another one of my coworkers a
fucking fag behind his back, but then he smiles in his face and pretends that they are best friends
when he is around. This is the type of shit that pisses me off and irritates my soul. It is so many
undercover homophobes on this police force it is ridiculous and I cant stand it. I understand that
policing is an occupation that is perceived to be heterosexual and masculine but in todays
society that must change. It is no way in hell that homosexual officers should still face
discrimination and persecution for being gay considering the fact that we live in the 21st century.
That is totally unacceptable and wrong and it is the reason why I am afraid of truly admitting the
fact that I like women and that I am a lesbian. I just dont think that I am mentally strong enough
or that I can take the negativity and backlash from people, I am way too emotional and sensitive
for that.

Its been a couple of months since I thought about coming out to my coworkers and I
think today is the day that I should, but I just dont know how to. After, going through half of the
day remaining censored and quiet the opportunity to admit that I was a homosexual knocked on
the door and smacked me dead in the face, when I heard three of my coworkers talking about
homosexuals as if they were animals that deserved to be put down. One of them even took it
upon himself to say that gay people shouldnt be allowed to work on the force or in the military,
because it was designed for heterosexuals and gay people cannot serve and protect anyone. This
triggered a hidden rage in me that I didnt know I had and I immediately cussed him out. I told
him that it was weak minded individuals like him that made people want to commit suicide or
hide who they really are. I proceeded to tell the three of them that I was a lesbian and that I was
doing a way better job at policing than the three of them combined. I guess what I said struck a
nerve because they stormed off and slammed the conference door behind them. After, standing
up for homosexuals and exposing who I really am I felt a load lifted off of my chest, I thought
life was about to get easier but boy was I wrong.
The next day I walked into work I heard people that I thought were my closest friends on
the force bashing me and talking about me as if I was less than a human being. I couldnt believe
that they were acting as if I was abnormal because of my sexuality and like there was something
wrong with me. This made me feel ten times worse and I really considered about quitting my job
and hiding in my apartment for the rest of my life. But I refused to let them get the best of me
and make me give up the one thing I loved the most working on the force.
Weeks pasted and the tension didnt die down or get any better. Even the captain
was starting to act funny towards me and show me that he disapproved of me. As a result
of this this was the day that I broke down and fell apart in front of everybody at work. I

was so use to holding all my emotions in and pretending that their actions werent
bothering me, I forgot that I left my apartment without wearing my mask and the smiles
that grin and lie. I cant help that I am a homosexual or that God didnt intend for me to
be a heterosexual. But I will not continue to hide the person that God intended for me to
be. God intended for me to be unique and to be a proud lesbian officer who serves her
country and values the lives of others. But unfortunately thats not good enough for some
people. Since, I am not a heterosexual I get disapproving looks and side comments
directed at me all the time, which makes it so hard to be happy and live a care and stress
free life. I thought that people would be accepting of me because we live in the 21st
century and homosexuality is not illegal and that there are no laws set in stone that
prohibit people from being homosexual or for serving on the police force.
I just wish people would treat me and other homosexuals the way that they would
want to be treated and respect our sexual orientation and lifestyle. I wish people would
stop acting like it is unnatural for people to be gay or that they are sick. We are all
human beings that deserve to be treated with love, compassion, and respect despite our
differences. We deserve to have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities that our
counter parts have. We should not be forced to hide who we are or pretend to be whom
we are not just because of other peoples insecurities or irrational perspectives. From this
day forward I vow to love myself enough to express who I truly am no matter what
people have to say about it. I will no longer internalize the stereotypes that are placed on
the LGBT community and I will not be a victim of discrimination and persecution
anymore!! It is my life and I am going to live it as I know best Gay.

Works Cited
Berlatsky, Noah, ed. Gays in the Military Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills: Christine
Nasso. Print.
Fitzgerald, S. Police Brutality. Detroit: Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale, 2007. Print.
Miller, S. L.,Forest, K.B., and Jurik, N.C. "Diversity in blue." 5.4 (2003): 355-85. Web. 25 Feb.
Mitteager, J. NYPDs (New York Police Departments) Gay Cops. National Centurion 2.1
(1984): 33, 36, 71. ProQuest. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.
Myers, K. A., Kay B. Forest, and Susan L. Miller. "Officer Friendly and the Tough Cop."
Journal of Homosexuality 47.1 (2008): 17-37. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
PewResearchCenter A Survey of LGBT Americans Attitudes, Experiences, and Values in
Changing Times (2013).

Outserve.Sdln (2015) A Guide to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (2015).