This is a real question from the semi-controversial Pentagon questionnaire sent out to 400,000 non-deployed active troops asking them their opinions on gay servicemen and -women:
If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities with an open bay shower that someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian Service member also used, which are you most likely to do? Mark 1.
1) Take no action;
2) Use the shower at a different time than the Service member I thought to be gay or lesbian
3) Discuss how we expect each other to behave and conduct ourselves
4) Talk to a chaplain, mentor, or leader about how to handle the situation
5) Talk to a leader to see if I had other options
6) Something else
7) Don’t know
We have some follow-up questions. Including: WHAT IS “SOMETHING ELSE”? Can we not get a little more detail in our options here? “Something else” could mean anything from “Beat the crap out of the homo” to “Decide to co-star in the hottest impromptu gay-porn scene this side of Kabul.” (Thankfully, on the form, there is a fill-in-the-blank section after “Something Else.”)
And also, seriously? Can’t they just ask any straight dude who works out at any high-end gym in America what to do in this situation? Rim shot!
Not to deride the Pentagon’s dutiful research — they are clearly doing their due diligence on the issue, and they have every right to do it, even if gay advocates Servicemembers United call the wording “biased” and “derogatory.” Military brass obviously has its reasons for asking about issues that may seem random to outsiders, like how a soldier’s family would view the military after a don’t ask, don’t tell repeal, or whether a soldier attends social functions alone or with a spouse.
But it’s hard to miss Servicemembers United’s larger fear that questions like these are not nearly so aimed at a definite repeal as it seems like they should be, given the White House’s repeated promises to end the policy. It’s all about how servicemen and -women would feel and react in various scenarios. (As Jake Tapper points out, there are a bunch of “ifs” involved.) Basically, it sounds like a lot of asking permission — which comes across as strange, asking privates and petty officers what they think of a decision that has allegedly already been made by the commander-in-chief and top generals. Is it not possible, for example, to just tell people what to do in the shower if there is a gay person present? And to have that order be, hopefully, option No. 1?