Warrant Officer Andrew McLean told the CBC recently that while he was serving in Afghanistan, because he is gay, he received a death threat from someone working at Kandahar Airfield.
Warrant Officer Andrew McLean, who had tried to hide his sexual orientation, told CBC News that he found the letter on his work station in September, during his 4½-month tour of duty in Kandahar.
“It said, ‘You’re gay. Because of this, minus-2’ … that’s metric [for] six feet, 6½ feet under?” McLean said in an interview from Winnipeg, where he recently took part in the Rick Hansen Relay.
“I went through a lot of emotions. I went through anger, embarrassment, humiliation … fear for my safety.”
After taking a couple of days to grapple with the decision, McLean did bring the note forward to his superiors, and a complaint was filed and new camp harassment policies developed as a result.
McLean said before the incident he had hid his homosexuality: “I tried every trick in the book to be heterosexual…Because that’s the conflict. That’s what society expects you to be.” He said that now he is open about his sexuality, he is less afraid and feels more himself.
Mark at Slap Upside the Head notes the incident shows that allowing gays to serve openly in the military still doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy experience, due to a military subculture that tends to be homophobic: “This story caught my attention mostly because of timing. Canada lifted its ban on gays serving openly in the forces in 1992, a full 20 years ago. The military, though, much like the world of sports, doesn’t make being openly gay easily, although there aren’t any obstacles on paper.”
“If I don’t stand up, who’s going to stand up? If I don’t identify something, then who’s going to identify it?” McLean told the CBC. It’s shameful that McLean had to endure that kind of harassment but it’s extremely commendable that he took it public to show the continuing challenges and to help make the military a safer place for other LGBT service members.