I was walking over to Columbia for my afternoon class, feeling quite chipper. It was clear and sunny, but the wind was very sharp. I had decided to wear the ubiquitous black dress this morning, and I was regretting it for the umpteenth time -- it was damn cold out -- when I saw something on College Walk that made me stop in shock.
It seemed innocuous. Two muscular young men with folding tables and signs. I almost didn't stop to look at all, because I was sure they were with the International Socialist Organization (regular College Walk inhabitants) and I knew from experience that ISO tablers are particularly persistent.
But the signs didn't say "Stop the war for oil in Iraq." They said "Bring ROTC back to Columbia."
(Columbia has not had an active ROTC program since the sixties.)
I stopped, stunned. I was incredibly offended. Now you want to use my tuition and fees to violate university non-discrimination policy and fund an anti-gay organization? I don't fucking think so! I walked up to one of the tablers to express my extreme displeasure. Before I could get beyond "I'm outraged to see this here", however, he narrowed his eyes, sneered, and walked away. He dismissed me outright. I was no longer there.
I wanted to scream:
Don't you GET it? It's not just about one crazy queer girl, freezing in a long black dress on College Walk. It's about her, and her lovers, her mentors and her friends. It's about friends of friends, and people she'll never meet, about kids that haven't even been born yet and men and women that will die on the battlefield and in the fucking closet. It's about her blood relatives and her relatives in spirit. It's about hurting others for no goddamn REASON. It's about more pain, and more exclusion, and more fucking SUFFERING!
I went on my way. I did my job, I went to class. But I feel like a foreigner in this damn country more and more every day.
For a very good take on the resurgence of ROTC interest at Columbia and elsewhere, read Merlin Chowkwanyun's The Myth of Anti-Military Bias. (I love Merlin. In a nice, non-sexual way, of course. He doesn't know I exist. But that's OK.)