Groups opposed to the open service of gay and lesbian members of the military will continue to fear-monger about gay and straight service members showering together to sexualize the open service issue, Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United told TPM in an interview.
“I see that as being a talking point to just raise fears and draw attention to their general opposition to the issue and that’s not something that I think will go away anytime soon,” Chlapowski said.
In the wake of the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, conservative groups have been latching onto the argument that gay and straight men can’t shower together because the straight men would get uncomfortable. A conservative reporter even asked Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) about the logistics of gay and straight soldiers showering together. Frank responded by feigning mock horror and pointing out that gay and straight men have been showering together in a variety of settings for years.
“For a lot of people opposed to repeal, that was their main topic — what’s going to happen in the showers — just trying to sexualize the topic as much as they could,” Chlapowski said. “I think they’ll hold onto that, but what’s going to happen as we implement repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and open service, that’s going to fade away.”
It’s all a non-issue to Chlapowski.
“The reality is, the way that the military is modernizing, you don’t see group showers too often, and when you do, it’s in like training situations or combat situations — both are high-stress and the purpose of the showers is getting clean and getting in and out real quick,” Chlapowski said. “In most other situations… you don’t see shared showered facilities.”
“It’s going to be impractical for them to really do separate showers,” Chlapowski told me. “Foreign militaries didn’t do that, we have gyms in America that don’t have that requirement. So its not something that’s very practical.”
Chlapowski said he expects Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness — who told me yesterday that showers are a “huge issue” — to continue to lobby to keep gay men and lesbians out of the military over the next 10 to 20 years.
“As ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ falls out of the public eye because the implementation process and beyond is not going to be as sexy to the American media, I don’t know how prevalent she’s going to be unless she picks a cause that’s as controversial,” Chlapowski said.