Yesterday I was listening to Josh Groban's Christmas album as I did my housework. (I know . . . it's not even Thanksgiving . . .) When it came around to "I'll Be Home For Christmas," the sound clips of military partners reading letters to their soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan made me stop and think.
Five years have passed since the start of the War in Iraq. During this period, the media has reported stories about soldiers who are sent to Iraq, only to come home with serious physical and psychosocial ailments. There have also been many reports about soldiers who have died. Lost in these media reports are the stories of the soldiers' significant others, and how they have dealt with suffering or deceased loved ones. And when it comes to LGBT partners, that silence is even louder.
One peace activist is trying to change that. Reyna Velarde is a graduate student a California State University Long Beach. She is collecting stories of military significant others to give a voice to the spouses and partners of soldiers sent to Iraq by highlighting their narratives in a staged performance.
According to Velarde:
This performance will be based on your stories. I am especially looking for the stories of LGBTQ military significant others because it is important to tell these stories from all perspectives, especially since 3 different states just took away the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. While it's important to give a voice to all military significant others, giving a voice to LGBTQ significant others is that much more important to show the inequalities they face, and lack of social support they receive.
Thus far in my research, I have not received stories from the LGBTQ community. I understand that with the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, sharing these stories can be difficult, if not down right dangerous. All of the stories I collect will remain anonymous unless you wish to have your identity revealed.
I want your stories of the struggles being a military significant. Topics can include: how you met; pressures of staying together before deployment; the relationship - home and overseas; being away from your soldier; how deployment effected your relationship - for better or worse. I know it may be painful to think of some stories, so please do so with care. Even if you think your story is insignificant, remember, your story is very significant, and you may spark creative direction on my part. Please email your story to me at email@example.com.
Finally, please share this message with anyone who has been or is currently in a relationship with a soldier who has been/is/or will be deployed. All types of stories are important, whether they are positive or negative. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Also, if you would rather have an interview instead of typing out your story, contact me so we can exchange information and set an interview date. I am looking for stories until December 31st, so please keep them coming until then.
Thanks your support. I look forward to hearing/reading your stories!
I'm happy to hear that Reyna is making a conscious effort to include LGBT voices in her research, and I wish her the best of luck!