Every Hump is One Step at a Time

2147s looking like the cast of M*A*S*H

First off, for my non-Marine readers, “hump” is USMC-jargon for a long hike, usually with a ton of gear, combat boots and the Marine in front of you leaving a vapor trail of the breakfast burrito he had. Sorry. TMI. I loved and hated the the humps. Making my body hurt so bad allowed for this trance-like state of mind that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. Well, formation runs sort of got me there too. I was able to cover a lot of distance when I was surrounded by my brothers in camouflage (no women in our company). The strength of our group determination made what seemed impossible, possible.
This morning I was doing an interview and the young woman asked me about the period of time after I’d come out on CNN (as queer and against the occupations). There was actually a time when I was suiting up and showing up for work as this out queer peace activist Marine. I thought, “If ever there’s a time the Marines will turn their back on me, this is it.” You know what? They didn’t. Anything but. Even the ones who might have thought the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow good for our nation (and those nations too), after I was allowed to look them in the eye and explain exactly why I felt compelled to do what I was doing, I got nothing but the same kind of support I’d always gotten from my brothers in arms. While doing the interview, I actually got pretty choked up. The feeling of loss I have still today is as strong as the last time I drove off Camp Pendleton.
I miss being with my Marines now that I’m out of the military. But I still hear from them a lot. Especially when the movie airs. Marines I know and some that I’ve never met, contact me and express the same encouragement I’d come to expect on all those long runs and humps. My life as an activist and an artist is a continuation, in my mind, of the oath that I took 6 June, 2000. And with their encouragement, I’ll make this hump too. One step at a time.

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