August 20, 2011

Navy Air Force Inspector General Under Investigation After Dismissing Anti-Gay Harassment Complaint

NAS Oceana, Virginia: A 36 year old Officer in the US Navy, filed 2 official complaints with the Inspector General of the Navy Air Force, alleging anti-gay harassment from fellow officers.

In addition, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service confirmed Friday that it is assessing whether to open a full-scale felony investigation into an online threat apparently aimed at a Navy ensign who says he was the victim of anti-gay harassment and hazing at a fleet strike fighter squadron.

The threat, posted Aug. 14 on an unofficial naval aviation blog, airwarriors.com, took the form of a photo of a near-naked man tied to a “Tree of Woe” with the caption, “Send the Fagmiester back to the Goatlocker. We’ll take care of him/her/it …” The epithet referred to one of several anti-gay “call signs” — nicknames naval aviators bestow on each other and certain other assigned personnel — which former squadron mates of Ensign Steve Crowston told him they were considering giving him during a meeting last summer; the “goatlocker” is Navy slang for a chief petty officers’ lounge.

According to Steve Crowston, the harassment began before a meeting, when his fellow officers called him into a room for a review of call signs, which is a short nickname that easily identifies a service member via radio communication, without revealing the name or identity of the crew member. He said his fellow officers wrote: “Cowboy,” “Gay Boy,” “Fagmeister,” “Cowgirl,” “Romo’s Bitch,” “TO,” “Terrell Owens" and
“Redskins,” on a white board. The group of officers chose call number “Romo’s Bitch” for Ensign Crowston.
 
Beverly Bilger, the inspector general of the Naval Air Force Atlantic Fleet, investigated and dismissed the complaints. She is under investigation for the handling of the complaints, because the Ensign alleges that the IG had a prior working relationship with Crowsden’s Commanding officer, and was biased.

Ensign Crowston said he suffered months of continual anti-gay harassment and sexual discrimination from his fellow officers with Strike Fighter Squadron 136 at NAS Oceana, VA.

I would guess that we are going to hear about more incidents like this, in each branch of the armed services, since discharges have come to a halt in advance of the DADT repeal. Being familiar with the culture of the Navy, I can’t fathom how Ensign Crowston went to work every day, and endured this puerile behavior. There isn’t a kid, or an adult, on the planet who deserves to be treated this way. It is cruel and unusual punishment, and I’m sure that the IG, and some of the officers responsible for this, will be made an example of. The Navy does not want this type of behavior to be the story with DADT being repealed in a matter of weeks.

Crowsden, a 16 year veteran of the US Navy, received a performance review after the call number meeting. The Commanding officer gave him his worse review in his entire career with the Navy. Crowston says a female friend committed suicide in August 2009, because of bullying, and in her suicide letter she cited anti-gay harassment similar to what he encountered. Crowston said he was humiliated and offended by the call sign review and asked for an apology from officers responsible for coming up with the “Gay Boy” and “Fagmeister” suggestions.

Ensign Crowston stand tall and be proud. I know that’s easy to say, but don’t let these arrogant pricks defeat you. Behavior like this scars people, so don’t be afraid to see a therapist or find someone you can talk to. You’re a hero, and you deserve to be treated like one.

The amazing part of this story? And heartbreaking just the same, is that Ensign Crowston’s fellow officers and co-workers didn’t know if he was gay or not. Ensign Crowston has had an exemplary 16 year career in the Navy to date. He is 36 and unmarried, so his co-workers thought he might be bent, and Ensign Crowston maintains that his sexuality is irrelevant. I agree.

It’s in cases like this that the perpetrators of the bullying and harassment, should be tossed in a Roman Colosseum, so that those who have been tortured can get revenge. I’m fantasizing again!

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