One of the many tactics that dominant bodies use is a divide and conquer strategy. They purposefully set the marginalized against each other, in the hopes that it will create discord, thus causing both groups to ignore the shared pain of oppression. When we fixate on each other, it is always the marginalize that lose and this is exactly why Massachusetts congressional candidate Sean Bielat suggested the following in a Boston Herald interview:
“There’s no absolute right to serve. Men under the height of 5 feet, 2 inches can’t serve – I don’t see anybody protesting. Where are the people standing in front of the White House, the short guys standing in front of the White House? You don’t see it,” Bielat said. “We understand that there’s no absolute right to serve in all these other areas.”
See how this works? Because little people aren’t able to enlist, it somehow invalidates the right of average size gay people to serve. It certainly did not occur to Bielat that there are little people who are gay, who would find any attack against the LGBT community oppressive. For minds like Bielat, intersectionality is non-existent. It also did not occur to him, that height as a restriction is also an abelist construction designed specifically to prevent a marginalized group from participating. I see no reason why accommodations could not be made to allow a little person to serve stateside at a desk or bureaucratic position, but I suppose that would require the population to consider the right of ALL people to serve.
The commonality I see in Bielat’s commentary is that certain bodies are excluded because of an absolute desire to oppress and wield coercive power. Though the GLBT community is valuable to the military, as Lt. Dan Choi has shown, they have been targeted because such action affirms heterosexism and in the process supports the hierarchy of bodies that we have socially organized. This is but one area in which the BLGT community are told to closet themselves — to hide their existence, because invisibility removes equal participation. The idea that studies are needed to eliminate such a ridiculous policy, only serves to mark them as somehow deviant and ‘other’. Interestingly enough, these same viability studies are exactly what the able bodied demand when disabled people request accommodation. They always want to analyze the cost, as though the price for exclusion of disabled people isn’t already heavy enough. For someone who is both gay and disabled, the cost manifests in various ways and multiples twofold.
If we actually sit and think about the various oppressions that PWD and the TLBG community confront, it is clear that commonality exists, furthermore; for those that are both gay and disabled, the twin oppressions are daily visited upon them. To believe Bielat’s ramblings, one would have to assume that oppression and hierarchy are absolutely normal and that only a certain kind of body deserves to be counted. If the disabled community were to say that LGBT people should not be in the military, because there are restrictions to our service, we are agreeing that bigotry is acceptable. If anything, Bielat has simply pointed out that there is one more social organization that needs to provide accomodation for ALL people.