"The Things They Carried" by Tim O"Brien is a story based on the grunts of Vietnam. The fear, death, and dishonor experienced by soldiers in Vietnam. What about the heartbreaking struggles of gay generations past and present who have dealt with the war on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the threat of getting Human Immune Virus (HIV), and the "dishonor" of dying from an unknown disease? How many gay men and women have attended the funeral of a significant other or friend who has died of AIDS? Homosexual men and women have felt the threat of dishonor and judgments just like the soldiers of Vietnam. This paper compares the burden of the Vietnam soldier to those living and dying with AIDS.
Gays have been in the military as far back as World War II, some may say as far back as the time of Julius Caesar (Goldwater). Tim O"Brien describes the pounds and ounces of the items that every soldier carried in combat as well as the personal weight of the items each man carried. Likewise, the gay soldier also carried the weight of the "P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gun, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches ,sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, two or three cans of water" and much more. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross was able to carry the 10 ounce love letters from his "friend" Martha. Could the gay soldier carry the weight of such precious cargo? No, the military may be screening for sex perverts, gay letters written in code, or fearing homosexual witch hunts conducted by superiors. .
"Humping" day in and day out through land mines just like every other "grunt or leg" in Vietnam. Soldiers; gay men and women not only went through the land mines of Vietnam, they have gone through the land mines of the 80's, 90's and today. Beginning in the 80's with the advent of "Don't ask don't tell".