Recently, the 111th United States Congress passed a historic act repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. Despite this measure, there will invariably be many men and women inside the ranks of the military who will look down upon gays and lesbians who choose to serve beside them. This has become abundantly clear with the discovery of dozens of distasteful videos produced by Capt. Owen Honors while aboard the USS Enterprise, a U.S. Navy ship based out of Norfolk, Virg.
Some of the videos contain extremely offensive content, including homophobic slurs, anti-gay remarks and frequent use of profanity.
The videos were leaked to the The Virginian-Pilot. On Democracy Now! on Mon., Jan. 3, reporter Corrine Reilly, who broke the story for the Pilot, said that videos were played each week for the Navy crew on closed-circuit television throughout the ship. Over a roughly one-year period, as many as 6,000 U.S. Navy officers and sailors watched the videos.
The videos are surprisingly well-made, featuring different characters, plots and themes. Honors used an editing technique that enabled viewers to see two or three different versions of him on screen, allowing him to play more than one character at once. Just by watching the videos, it is clear that a lot of time and effort was put into making these videos, even as the USS Enterprise was deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Honors made the videos using equipment provided by the ship. The equipment is intended to be used for videos that display the good work the Navy is doing overseas. According to a statement released by the Navy on Friday, the videos were “intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew’s attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc.”
Well if that’s the case, Honors certainly missed the mark.
What’s amazing is that Honors actually got promoted to Commanding Officer after the videos were released. At the time, Honors was Executive Officer of the ship. Rather than being held accountable, he was given a raise.
There’s no telling how many of the 6,000 sailors aboard this ship were deeply offended or intimidated by these videos either because of their sexual orientation or because of their own personal views. The Navy has launched an investigation and Honors will more than likely be discharged; however, not everyone is quick to denounce him. An online petition to keep Honors as the captain of the USS Enterprise has gathered over 300 signatures and counting. Clearly, his homophobic slurs, inappropriate gestures and offensive remarks are not good enough reason for some people to believe he should be discharged from the Navy.
By coincidence, I received a call today from an old friend who is currently in the Navy and stationed in Guam. He was informed of the incident by some of his peers, and told me that his fellow marines have mixed feelings about the military’s repeal of DADT. One thing is for certain: While repealing DADT is a historic measure for gays and lesbians serving in the military, there is still a noteworthy portion of men and women in the U.S. military who hold an intolerant view of the LGBT community.
See the original videos, leaked first to The Virginian-Pilot, HERE.