Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Let's Keep It Straight by John McCutcheon

For today, in the context of the North Carolina bathroom story, I wanted to share the lyrics from John McCutcheon's song Let's Keep It Straight, written in 1993 during the debate about "don't ask don't tell" in the military.

I left home for boot camp the day I turned eighteen
It was ten weeks of hell, but I made a Marine
Stationed at Cherry Point when the call came to war
I was eager to go, it's what I was trained for

So I shipped out to Dubai with the Hundred and First
And, though we never saw action, we knew ten times worse
In bone-chilling danger we lived every day
We found one of the guys in our unit was gay
Chorus A

Let's keep it straight when you carry a gun
It's not what you do, boys, it's just who you've done
The fate of our nation, it's power and might
Depend on who soldiers might sleep with at night
On patrol in the jungle, my buddies and I
Came upon, to our horror, the village, Mi Lai
Midst the dead and the dying we heard one old man say
"They came and they killed, but, thank God, they weren't gay!"
Chorus A (repeated)

We work in your office, we teach in your schools
We pray in your churches, we live by the rules
We win your elections, we die in your wars
Who we choose to love is no business of yours

All alone on the street in the quickening night
Miles from home as my heart fills with fright
No place for a woman to be out this way
There's a man in the shadows, God, I hope that he's gay!
Chorus B:

Our leaders and generals all carry on,
"We need separate showers and barracks and johns"
Men frightened of men, I just laugh through my tears
To think it's what women have gone through for years
And there it is, one major element of male homophobia: men fearing they will be treated the way they treat women.

The song is from the album Sign of the Times (with Si Kahn). Worth a listen.

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