On My Soapbox

 Posted by at 7:00 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 232009

After months of not being sure exactly where we stood with the management of the Pinal County Fairgrounds in Casa Grande, Arizona, yesterday I had a meeting with the new fairgrounds manager and two of her key personnel. I’m happy to report that she was just as upset by the actions of her predecessor as we were.

She has assured me that the rate will stay the same as we had agreed to with the previous management, and that she and her staff will do whatever it takes to make our upcoming Gypsy Gathering rally a success.

We have been worried that there would be problems for our Early Birds, because the fairgrounds is booked for another event on Sunday. But we have worked out an arrangement to get everybody in and parked. We may have to shuffle a few folks around a bit once the other event ends, but we’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

Several people have written to ask about day passes, because they either don’t have RVs yet, or are staying in one of the local RV parks and don’t want to have to move their rigs. Day passes are $5 per person per day, and include all rally events. If you are coming in on a day pass, just stop by the registration table to pick up your pass.

I know that this is an RV blog, and I don’t want to get into a drawn out political debate here, but I feel I have to climb up on my soapbox and respond to several e-mails I got about a comment I made in Tuesday’s blog in which I said that I do not believe that a person’s sexual orientation should prevent them from serving in the military.

That comment infuriated some folks, one of whom wrote “No American soldier wants to share a foxhole with a queer” and another who said “A homosexual does not have what it takes to face combat. They will turn tail and run every time.”

I always suspect that comments like this come from people who have never been under fire.

Let me tell you about a man I served with in the Army. His name was Sergeant Timothy Arnold. He was one of the most intelligent, honest, and genuine people I have ever known. He taught me a lot about staying alive, about being a man, and about accepting other people for who they are.

In a time when being gay was something that one had to hide to serve in the military, Tim, a career man, made no secret of the fact that he was gay. He never flaunted his homosexuality, but among his friends (and I counted myself among them), he used to joke and say “Boys, I should have been born a WAC (Womens Army Corps).”

But when the bullets were zipping past overhead, there was nobody I wanted covering my back more than Tim. He was absolutely fearless, and saved my life more than once. Tim went home on a stretcher, maimed for life. Not because he “turned tail and ran,” but because he left cover and went out under intense fire to drag one of our wounded men to safety, which he did regardless of his own injuries. Injuries that eventually caused his death, several years later.

So don’t tell me that my friend was less of a man than anyone else who served this country. I only hope that someday I can measure up to the man he was.

Thought For The Day Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally 

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  13 Responses to “On My Soapbox”

  1. I do not have anything against gays. However, I served on a submarine and just didn’t like the idea at that time. I’ve changed my opinions substantially since then. I don’t know for sure how I would be about it, but I think I could deal with it. I do believe, though, that it could be a dangerous environment because of the bigoted nature of some sailors — at least the ones I knew in the 70s. But then, I’ve seen gays being treated with courtesy and respect in a small southern town bowling alley where most of the people bowling were white Bible-belt men and women who were raised in a very different time. Times change and people change.

    Yes, we can.

  2. Brava Nick…..

  3. BLESS YOU NICK for standing up for what is right!

  4. Yes, bravo, indeed. I’ve never quite understood the mindset that demands all others conform to the 10 or 20 or 30 things that “I” am and if they don’t, why, they must be an enemy or weird or perverted or criminal. We’re all just human, and I revel in our differences as much as our sameness.

  5. Thank you, Nick, for standing up for what you believe. I grew up in a small midwestern town and used to hold the same small-minded beliefs. Thankfully, my world has expanded and my outlook has expanded with it.

  6. On behalf of myself and all the other gay veterans past and present, thanks Nick for your story on Tim Arnold. I’m sure there are many more like it. So many gays have served, in silence, in spite of that outdated policy. Why they would risk their lives to serve in an institution who abhors them, now THAT’s bravery.

  7. I 3rd the Brava. The problem you talked about lies deeper than just your opinion. It lies with the people who are angry because you don’t “believe” as they do. They are entitled to their opinions, but not you. Their intolerance and hate is so apparent and this is the problem that is ruining this country, not gays in the Military.

  8. Nick,

    We can always count on you to say the right thing. Thank you.

  9. Thank you so much for sticking your neck out both now and then. Keep safe and prosper!

    RIP Justin

  10. Bravissimo!

  11. Long ago I heard, and as I age I’ve come to believe, that the folks that “protesteth too much” are loathe to confront their own disturbing emotions and ideations. As people grow more certain of their own identities they can become tolerant of others and themselves as well.

    I wish your kind of wisdom for all who struggle with sexuality. Thanks for taking the issue on.

  12. Nick, though I don’t agree with your stand on all of the issues you mentioned, I am very respectful of you and your right to have them. This country was founded with freedom of expression as a right and those of us who are sick at what the Bush era has done to our standing in the world have stood up and said ‘Enough !!!’. President Obama is a man and not a saint and will be faced with a need to make many compromises in order to accomplish anything but, hopefully, he won’t continue to compromise our way of life as did the previous administration. Thank you for standing up and saying what you feel about issues that do tend to irritate others; at the very least it engenders some lively and thoughtful discussion.

    Very sincerely, one of your dykely readers

  13. Just today I stumbled across your blog and have been reviewing it to determine whether or not it would be worth investing my time to follow it (I already follow so many….). I was on the fence until I read this posting. You, sir, represent what America is supposed to be all about. It’s about tolerance. It’s about minding your own business and letting the other guy do as he pleases. As long as one is not hurting anyone else, they should be free to do as they please and be who they are. I don’t get why more Americans don’t understand that. I consider it unAmerican to tell other people who to be or what to do. I suspect those people who complained are either old, or from the south. Or both. Something about the ‘bible belt’ I guess.

    Thank goodness we are not all the same. How boring. Some if the most interesting people I have met have been gay. What a boring world this would be without them. 8^)

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