Presidents Corner – December 2016
In the Navy
Long ago, during the Vietnam War, I was a line officer in the Navy – aboard the USS Austin, as a matter of fact. The Austin was an amphibious assault ship, which meant we carried Marines, about a thousand of them. That’s a lot of testosterone in a small area for six months at a time. It may sound like the perfect setting for the Village People song but it was not nearly that much fun.
The Austin was a fairly large ship so it was normally pretty smooth sailing. There were occasions however when rough seas could not be avoided. In those cases there was an a warning from the bridge, “Stand by for heavy rolls.” The appropriate response to that was not to run around like your hair was on fire or stand there and curse the weather. Instead everyone worked together to put small stuff in cabinets or drawers that could all be locked and tie down larger equipment as quickly as possible. Once the ship began to roll anything that was not secured began sliding one way and then the other and the longer it slid the more difficult it became to stop it. Anything in cabinets that had not been locked was pretty quickly spilling out on the floor. If the preparation had not been done well it not only got messy, it could actually get pretty dangerous.
I don’t think one would have to be partisan to think that a “Stand by for heavy rolls” warning is probably in order for the next four years – for the gay community as well as others. As in the Navy, running around with our hair on fire at every rumor or announcement or cursing the factors that led to this are not likely to be very productive.
In earlier Momentum letters I have reported on the LGBT Coalition on Aging which Prime Timers continues to help get off the ground. In the very first organizational meetings one of the observations that was made was that the LGBT community in Austin has never organized; we have no means of communication, no “Gayborhood,” no community center or gathering place and very little experience at exercising political power. Austin has long been seen as such an open community that none of that was considered necessary. As those of you who heard the excellent presentation from Out Youth director Aubrey Wilkerson at the November meeting know, there may be more cause for concern than we have assumed. Out Youth had to contact police four times in the week after the election to report threats or violence against gay youth.
Certainly there will be times and circumstances in which it will be important for us to close ranks, to pull together, to provide support and to protect the advancements in equality that we have too recently achieved. As we move forward I would welcome your suggestions on ways in which Prime Timers can be an effective part of that effort to prepare for “heavy rolls” – for our membership and for our community.
I would also like to suggest one very immediate and timely antidote for whatever depression you may be feeling over current events. You’ll find descriptions of our annual Holiday Party on December 11 and a New Year’s Eve party in this issue. RSVP now and plan to attend one or both of these opportunities to relax and celebrate friendships; what better way to lighten your load a bit than to share a couple of hours with your Prime Timer friends, enjoy some great food, exchange a few hugs and maybe even a laugh or two.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and smooth sailing to all!