Today and every day, I honor the men and women who serve the country in which I live. Their decision to serve, especially in times of war, demonstrates a commitment and a sense of duty that awes me. I have written about characters who are veterans, including one in my upcoming release who experienced a life-changing sacrifice during his term of service. I can use my imagination, as any writer would, but I can never truly understand the physical, emotional and financial sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces endure for the sake of their commitment. Their service commands my deepest respect.
Even more so, I want to salute the gays and lesbians who make the choice to serve, to defend and even give their lives for a country that creates and upholds laws that make them second-class citizens. I salute those who are willing to serve a country that claims it doesn't need or want their service, a country that demands silence from those who are still determined in the face of that discrimination to offer selfless service. I am humbled by their bravery and awed by their strength as they take on a dangerous duty while being forced to abnegate their identity.
Think about what that silence means. For most people, expressing love, affection and attraction is simply a normal, daily routine. How many of us tell coworkers about a fight--or a celebration--we've had with our spouses? If we're single, don't we share our excitement about someone new we've met, or a heartbreak about a romance gone wrong? How often do we point out an attractive celebrity or comment on a relationship seen in a movie? Being gay is not some separate part of who we are, something we can lock away because that's just "for the bedroom," any more than heterosexuality is separate from how straight people go about their lives. The fact that our attraction, our bond, our love leads us to someone of the same gender is not an isolated facet of our existence. It should never be hidden or silenced because others perceive our love as offensive. A simple kiss by a same-sex couple in public is no more an example of "flaunting" sexual behavior than is the appearance of a pregnant woman in public.
So while I give my deepest respect to the men and women--of every sexual orientation--in our armed services, I look forward to the day when the truths our founders held self-evident are true for all of us, including the brave men and women who defend the country that, at its birth, declared itself for equality. I will continue to write about gay veterans, but especially about people falling in love, about that magic realization of something outside ourselves, something that makes us better than we were without