• J. S. Chlapowski

I felt important once

A story on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell popped up in my newsfeed, about Obama and his tepid commitment to repealing the law, and I don’t remember enough to dispute it. I don’t think I would have bothered if I did remember enough.

It was ten years ago, wasn’t it? I can’t remember the year. If I can’t remember the year, it’s too long ago for the rest of my memory to be reliable.

I do have a picture. Maybe that’s more reliable. You can see it just above.

You wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you, but you squeeze your eyes hard enough you can see me in the corner, on the right, in the shadows, oblivious to the very real fact that the moment I was in was a Big Moment that would be photographed and sent to us months later, so that everyone in the photograph could have proof that they were important once.

Looking at the picture, I do remember something. I remember after it was taken, the President left, and, still starstruck, I stood my ground against his staff anyway. It was a hard thing to do and I stuttered and blushed, and when I was done a few others spoke up and shared the small piece of courage I stood upon. They may have been inspired by me, they may have been waiting their turn, but at the time it felt really good. Over the next few days I did feel important, though it wasn't a moment caught on camera.

For a while, I had it in my head that I would write something about my experiences on the Hill, after every memoir and article claiming credit for winning the fight against DADT cycled out; when readers and potential readers were in the mood for a more nuanced take, where there were no heroes you could point to because there are hardly ever any heroes and hard, non-heroic decisions are hard, because who can be a hero when the path to being one is never lit?

But memoirs need memories, and mine are silent, stirred only by the occasional post about heroes that never were.

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