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Interview with Eduard Mike Crawford [7/2/2005]

Steve Estes:

My name is Steve Estes and today is July 2nd, 2005 and I' m interviewing...

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Eduard Mike Crawford.

Steve Estes:

And where are we Mike?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Los Angeles, California.

Steve Estes:

Alright. Okay, let's start with when and where you were born.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Geissen, West Germany.

Steve Estes:

And when?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

1956.

Steve Estes:

And I can tell, and you already told me earlier, that you were a military brat.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yes.

Steve Estes:

So what service... -was it your dad who was in the service?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

My dad was a drill sergeant in the United States Army.

Steve Estes:

How long had he been in?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Over twenty years.

Steve Estes:

Wow. So he'd been in over twenty years; he got in in the thirties?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

He went in when he was like sixteen years old; sixteen to eighteen he got in.

Steve Estes:

And he must have served in World War II then.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

No, I believe it would have been at the tail end of the Korean War and during the Vietnam War.

Steve Estes:

Oh, he served for twenty years after...I gotcha.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

(inaudible) from the beginning till the end; his ETS.

Steve Estes:

Okay. Let me see, so did he meet your mom in Germany?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yes.

Steve Estes:

Was she German?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well she was German but, just to let you know, these were not my biological parents. My aunt and uncle adopted me from my biological mother. My family told her to. Yep, yep. (??) [Laughter] So anyway I was raised by my aunt and uncle, which I to this day, proudly say they are my mother and father.

Steve Estes:

Gotcha. And what was it like...were you in Germany the whole time you were growing up? Or for how long?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

No, actually I was in and out of the country; between the United States and strictly (?) Germany and the United States. When my dad went to Korea on numerous occasions we always went back to Germany.

Steve Estes:

What was it like having that kind of international childhood?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

It was kind of strange. Especially I kept on wondering if the propellers were going to flip off as we were traveling...because at that time we didn't have jet engines unless it was going over the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. But going over the Rocky Mountains was really being (?) scary; you see nothing but propellers, that's it.

Steve Estes:

When you were in the U.S., where were you living? Just at various army bases?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

No, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and also...I lived also in Evansville, Indiana and finally when my dad was retiring we lived ended up at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Steve Estes:

Why did you decide to go into the army?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

To get away from my parents... [Pause] [Laughter] -and Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Steve Estes:

And then you were stationed back there...

Eduard Mike Crawford:

-I lived right in back. [Laughter] They usually...when you go into the service they end up trying to bring you back to the same place that you entered into the military...so, because its cheaper on the budget.

Steve Estes:

Now when you went in, it was the end of the Vietnam War. How did your parents feel about you going in?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Um... [Pause] My dad just said just become the best person you can become; do the best you can. That's it. And that's mainly what I want to do, so I did whatever I could just to get away from Fort Polk, Louisiana. There were certain reasons that I didn't really like it over there. Unfortunately my mother still lives there and I can't do anything about it until after she passes on; to expose what's going on over there at this place, which is at Fort Polk, Louisiana, predominately most of their employees are Klu Klux Klan members and many (?Proper noun), which is only about 23 miles away from our town; they themselves, that's their home town, home grounds for the Klan, including Wizards and everybody else, but the town that's sponsoring Fort Polk to this day does not allow minorities to be buried within their city limits; to this date. And people who are veterans have to be buried in Alexandria which is about 56 miles away or elsewhere, but not within the city limits of Leesville...unless it's(inaudible) my mother wanted it there and my father, which(?change to who) was black, she was white, they said, "Well go bury him over by Deritter," which is like a cabbage patch area...so she didn't want to do that so she had no choice but to have him buried at the VA cemetery in Alexandria; a long way from most of the other people that retired.

Steve Estes:

When you say Alexandria do you mean Virginia?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Louisiana.

Steve Estes:

Louisiana, okay. So did you have any run-ins with the Klan or with those kind of folks when you were in high school?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well, I never had to really worry about it because, I'm not sure, maybe through and around that see...the Klan members would mess with American white women that is married to a black man, but they wouldn't mess with the Europeans, which were the French and Germans. So they wouldn't mess with those people, but also too, is that I wasn't black and I wasn't white, so they could play with me. So I did (inaudible). But I remember an incident when I went to school, I was coming off of the military bus to be transferred to school, and everybody was ordered to report to the dormitory; the basketball stadium inside, and anyways, they said, "As of right now we're asking all military kids to leave the area and to exit, and go to their bus immediately." I remember as I was going out there were some kids trying to race real quick out the door and behind me I notice there was a black guy; and all of a sudden, as soon as I opened the door and I pass, and all of a sudden I hear a crack! Turns out it was police officers beating the kids in; all the black kids had to stay in, only the military black kids could leave, but not the civilian black kids. And that was considered all the kids that were across the railroad track could not leave. And that's the reason why I have the biggest hatred for that place. And they were not kind to people of multi-racial thing, but what can you expect? All of that area is predominately controlled, at least(?), I mean the Klan members have to go to work, I understand, but the military base...

Steve Estes:

-Shouldn't be hiring them? [Grim Laughter]

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yeah, they should be in civilians or something like that, but not the military; they should discriminate. Just like I feel is that it's totally ridiculous, just as well as I think it's ridiculous that people of sexual orientation are being discriminated (against). I mean if they can let Klan members work for the military, why can't the gay people work for the military?

Steve Estes:

Right. I think all over the South military bases were having that problem, you know. I assume you're talking about the late 1960's, early 1970's?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

70's, right. 70's and 80's.

Steve Estes:

Yeah, so this is, I mean, you have a more cosmopolitan, I hate to use that word, but feel from all over the military base, then you have the surrounding area that's very soaked in all the ways that...so when you got out of there and joined the military, did you escape that or did you still face any...

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Oh no, after I left Fort Polk, Louisiana I moved on to then to Fort Gordon, Georgia and then to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, then I was sent to Korea and then because my ETS was coming up they sent me back to Fort Polk and so I was not a happy person. [Grim Laughter]

Steve Estes:

Well, let's back up and get you in. When you entered, did they ask you if you were gay? I mean did they ask you a question about homosexuality on the enlistment form?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

It was only on the form itself, no one mentioned it verbally and asked if you were homosexual or not.

Steve Estes:

Did you know at that point?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Um...I really didn't think about it, because to me...it's a natural thing so I wouldn't know, just because I don't look at women doesn't mean, you know, that doesn't mean that I'm...just cause I look at men doesn't mean I have to be gay. I could look at it because I'm admiring the muscles, or whatever it is, and I look at it now as being a gay person. I look at a woman, not because I'm attracted to her, I just admire her beauty or her shape; that's it, other than that, that's it.

Steve Estes:

Okay, so you said 'no' and that was the end of it. Okay. How was boot camp?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Rough.

Steve Estes:

Talk to me about it. [Laughter]

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well, it was different. I thought it was rough at home, but then at the same time too, I thought it was kind of neat, looking back I think it was easier for me cause I was already living that type of life already. So it was easy for me to take orders and do the things that I did, but then I found ways to get around a lot of a...you know, you have to earn to get off base, you know, to have a weekend pass or something like that. So I started, you know, getting sharp; learning the techniques I used on my dad's boots when he brought them home, I'd spit-shine em' for him. I did all these things. I knew about the uniforms; make sure everything's proper. And every time I could say only one thing, when I was in the army, I only had one KP, one day, that's it, other than that I've never had KP.

Steve Estes:

Do you remember why that was? Why'd you get KP?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

I don't know. Just look back I think maybe because I had fashion sense, or something. [Laughter] Cause I really did, I really did a number on that. I made sure I had the pleats, the creases and I, you know, it's just the way I was.

Steve Estes:

Right. After boot camp what was your next step?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well, let's see, I went to Fort Gordon, Georgia, and when I was there, I believe I was at the military police training school and I believe that people thought I was going to be different. I did everything that was possible to do there, but then all of a sudden the issue of me being suspected of being gay or something like that came up and then it disappeared, but then for some ironic reason my sergeant and commander called me in and stated to me that a female said that I was trying to sexually molest her, and so anyways, so...I mean, here I'm like, "Oh my god, what do you mean?" I mean I wasn't around other guys, we didn't hardly do anything. Actually I didn't think about doing all the things I did like they wanted to go out and meet the girls and get laid and things like that. I just went ahead and met somebody and said, "Let's go bowling." That's exactly what I wanted to do; go bowling and go to a movie. Some companion, not as a relationship sexual, cause I didn't have any desire to be with a woman. I just wanted to be with someone who wanted to spend time with me and all of a sudden being thrown in the face, did I sexually, I was supposedly sexually harassing, I don't know exactly what they would call it now till this day, but anyways I said, "No way!" So what I did, instead of signing paper work and saying, "Yes I did," or whatever, I said, "No." So I got advised that I could go see an attorney at JAG. So I went to JAG and I asked them, I said, "Is it true that anything I say to you is going to be confidential no matter what." And he said, "Yes." I said, "How in the world could I go do something like this when I'm gay as a three-dollar bill?" [Laughter] And the guy said to me, he says, "Well that's being pretty blunt and honest." And he said, and he looks at his paper work and he says, "There's no way possible that you would have been able to do something like this." And they specifically said that I had sexually molested her and so anyways he communicated with them and dropped the charges, but at the same time, too, because he couldn't do anything to me, they transferred me to Fort Jackson, South Carolina; I wanted to go to clerk school, but then I found I just wasn't adjusted to being a clerk, so they wanted me to become working signal, and that's a specialty job title (inaudible) something to do with cryptographer or something like that. So anyways it turns out, I found out later on that, on the paper work you had to become an American citizen. And mind you when I went into the military I had my green card as a German citizen, but I had a legal residential card in the United States, and so then I said, "Well, if I'm going to go to school, what's going to happen? I mean I'm a German citizen, I'm not supposed to be in school, what am I doing here? You already know that I'm a German citizen." But they say, "You're name is Crawford." I said, "Ah, that doesn't matter to me. I came here saying I had a green card and I'm not supposed to go to any secret school." So finally they had me around for eight or nine months and then they transferred me to Korea and I went there. I just went there as a where house man.

Steve Estes:

How did your time in Korea compare to your time stateside; I mean your relationship to other people?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

It was a major learning experience there. Mainly it's because I was watching how people conduct themselves...I mean they're totally different people, especially when their wives and their girlfriends are not around; I mean they're there for a thirteen month tour and turns out some of them actually extend themselves there, but the reasons...because I saw what was actually going on; is that they were able to cheat on their wives, hire Yo-bos, which is women prostitutes that are controlled by their Mama sans/Madams and these military guys would pay the Mama Sans to have this woman do whatever this G.I. wanted her to do and (inaudible) even have sex any time you wanted and the Mama Sans would (inaudible) because if she refused and the guy whose paying for it would tell Mama Sans, Mama Sans would take her somewhere and beat the hell out of her and then she'd come back willing to do whatever you want to do. So I watched that, but you know, I just saw a little hypocritical things that were going on and because were Camp Case (?)is situated is only like, I think it's like 32 miles away from Pa Moon Jan, which is the border, the DMZ zone where the Americans and the Koreans have a neutral zone where they meet and have meetings at, and things like that, which I experienced to go there myself, but the strange part; just seeing what was really going on. And at that time it was attached to an aviation unit and we also had helicopters flying in and out and everything, and my job at that time as an aircraft production control clerk and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot. But a couple months later, maybe about six months later my sergeant, my first sergeant had called us out to do policing; pick up buts(?) and things like that, just in the morning and I said something in my (inaudible) and he assumed I called him asshole in German, 'aschlaw', and he said, "What are you calling me an 'aschlaw'?" And I said, "No I did not." So he decided to go ahead and process me to get me article 15 or at least court marshaled, so I went ahead and reported to JAG again and it turns out that the person who interviewed me was the guy who was sitting right next to me coming to Korea and so I told him my story and so he turned around and told the commander that there was no reason for him to do something like that, to try to go after me for that. Because one, the first sergeant was not a professional translator and this is also (inaudible) that's my professional language, I mean I should know what I'm talking about. Also, too, he needed more witnesses and there were no other witnesses there. The strange part was I came back and the man's name was Major Macuzo; anyway I came back and they send me on a weekend pass and when I came back they promoted me. [Laughter] But the strange part was it was so great with my working environment; I had moved strings (?) and I think what they call now as being a 'bitch' every so often but my sergeant who was in charge, actually I was doing his job, because I was doing all the paper work, and the reason is because every time the attorney general's office came to review all the book keeping and everything...before it used to be all messed up, but once they saw my paper work, a lot of the time they came back and began to just ask, "Is Crawford there?" and sergeant just said, "Yep," and they'd say, "Bye." [Laughter] So I must have been a bitch because whenever, every time I just got frustrated they let me go take a weekend pass or let me go get off somewhere else and deal with my PMS at that time.

Steve Estes:

So, when you were on leave where you more able to explore your sexuality? Was it more open?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well, I mean I didn't know exactly...I mean I knew that I was attracted to men, but I didn't really do anything, but the strange part about the whole thing...I was invited to go to a place called Naja Hotel. As it turns out it's a military compound located right in the middle of Seoul, Korea and it's owned by the military, U.S. Army and at 12:00 they have curfew. Now if you're in a thing called Heart-to-Heart OB's Cabin building, which is a big bar; the bottom floor is this regular Heart-to-Heart OB's Cabin which is rigged with modern music or disco and then the next one is country western and then the other one is like jazz or rock n-roll, I don't know which one it was, but I was on the bottom floor which was Heart-to-Heart, but if I ever did, I'd go there and that was in Miyong Dong and that was considered a high class area because all the G.I. 's would go to Etay Won (Need Proper Noun) which was right were all the hookers were at and they could get cheap lays. But I went to the Naja Hotel and we had a procedure when we went to the hotel, we would bring a bottle of liquor, I hope this is not going to be held against me, [Laughter], Everybody's whose ever went there brought a bottle...we would call in to make reservations and we would all make sure that we brought a bottle of liquor, we paid for our (inaudible) rooms per day, but we gave as a gift to them, didn't even buy it from us, we just gave it to them, and what they did I had no idea, but at that time they were pretty happy cause' as I understand it a lot of black marketing was going on, but it didn't hurt us. And I remember and I realized, the next morning when you went for breakfast, almost everybody was gay there. [Laughter] And I'm looking around for the families, cause this is a compound where all the men and women...you know men bring in their wives because women could not live; wives and children could not live in Korea with us. They didn't have any military bases for families. Because we were only, what, thirteen minutes or fourteen minutes if they decided to shoot a rocket over and we'd get hit like that and we were right there in the DMZ zone, so, and I would look around and guys were running around cruising and everything else and we had the place to ourselves ever weekend and as long as I remember being there and so uh, everybody including...I mean every rank you could imagine, I mean the highest one I remember was three stars, three-star general, but its amazing that I didn't realize the diversity, the positions and the commitment these people have. They love the military, they did this, but the strength...the great part about it; they did it off base, they didn't do it like the military heterosexuals where they were just sexually harassing their own women and calling them lesbians because they were not interested. I wouldn't have been interested in them either if I, in hindsight, if I was attracted to men at that time; I would not have been attracted to them either and the way that they sexually harassed those people, I mean the women, it's just amazing. And I don't blame, maybe it's the reason why a lot of women adapted with other women cause they wouldn't have to put up with the bullshit, excuse my French, that they had to endure with the G.I. 's. But unfortunately as a military, when it says, "Oh that's just a military way. That's the way they do it in the military." But unfortunately with time...time will tell.

Steve Estes:

Did other people that you worked with know you were gay? Or suspect even?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Ah, they suspected, I'm sure, but as all the people I worked under they had a thing that said, "When you clock in you work, you clock out and you want to do anything other than just the normal thing; go bowling, play basketball, work on your car or whatever you want to do, if you want to have sex with another person or whatever, preferably off base, but don't ever get caught on base." And my philosophy, my thing was, I would do everything, if it was anything with sex, I didn't care if it was a man or woman, I would do it off base.

Steve Estes:

So, did you know folks who were thrown out because they were gay when you were in the army?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Not until I met AVER (American Veterans for Equal Rights), anyways not until then and, to this day, still wonder why because.. -I mean I understand if someone decided they wanted to wear, you know their lockers are only so big and they wanted to wear their drag clothes or something like that or would have pumps in their closet or something like that; I was totally against that. Or if...I mean I'm learning that...I mean I'm sorry, but to me that was not acceptable, that was not even acceptable by my peers and myself. You're there to do your job, you're there to go there and back up our men; we're supposed to go there and do whatever it takes to go there and we're not there to service them. Mind you I said, "Service the men." That was left all up to the women and those who had encounters like that, it was one of those people who were, or whoever they were, were people who just wanted to be to themselves; they didn't want to do what the regular people did. And I'm sorry but they had a choice, part of the morale...I mean, sleeping with men or cheating on your wives and kids and everything else, or abuse other kids and still be married to these other people and you say this is all a military thing, I'm sorry. But to me I would say, if a man is willing to stay, join the military, go through all the B.S. that they had to go through, including the sexual harassment.. -I mean you can ask any woman how it felt to be harassed by men, luckily we weren't...they kind of backed off from us, but yeah, they sexually harassed us; not to the extent as women.

Steve Estes:

Do you have an example of a time when you were sexually harassed?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Naw, just when somebody has...you know, they just say, "You kind of act funny, you must be gay," or something like that. Or maybe because I'm not around women, and I think that's the reason that I wanted to go out with this gal, just to show that I wasn't gay. Because, you know, I just wanted to have some friends and unfortunately there were no men that there that I was interested in getting to know.

Steve Estes:

Now you eventually left the army and joined the navy. Can you talk about why you did this?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yes. Well, I headed right back to where I started from, and I said, "No way." So I decided I'm gonna go (Inaudible) Houston, TX and it was great over there and then I met somebody, who I was not attracted to, and at that time I did not have a job, and they said, "Put out or get out!" So I said, "I'm gonna go back to the military." So I decided from that point on, I said, "You know, I'm going to go over there and try the navy," cause I said okay, Fort Polk is army, Shreveport, Louisiana was air force base and New Orleans, I don't know if there is a base out there, but if there is any water out there and I know there's water, there must be ships out there, I'd prefer to be way over there than being inland, that's the reason why I live where I live now.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

By the ocean.

Steve Estes:

So what year are we talking about just for the record?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

That was from IT-IV.

Steve Estes:

Uh-huh and did you have to go through like a basic training in the navy because you had already been in the army?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

I was already in training and they considered me as an Other Service Veteran. As I was a Spec. (?) 4,1 had to drop a rank, but I kept the years, so it really wasn't that different in pay and especially, I mean, I didn't really look(?) too much about pay because I (inaudible) four-course meals and everything, which today I still miss breakfast; everything else forget it, breakfast, that was the best meal in the world, I'm sorry, that's what you woke up for, that's what you looked forward to; took care of you the rest of the day.

Steve Estes:

So you were saying before we did the interview that the navy was a little different from the army in terms of sexuality, you want to talk about that a little bit?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well I think the navy was a little bit more, how do I say it...what I was trying to say is that in the army we're very strict, we're very gun-ho about a lot, but the navy was very...I hate to say it, their a bunch of pansies compared to the army, I'm sorry, because it was so strange because here when I'm walking around in my uniform, which was kind of awkward already, but having my medals on and everything and all of a sudden walking by a bunch of officers who decide not to salute me and I would confront them and they would go there and want to go there and discipline me, but then realize, they would look at me, at my badge and say, "Those are not navy medals." And I would say, "I know sir." And they'd say, "What is it?" I'd say, "Army." And I'd say, "Sir, I just, the reason why I confronted you here is because I'm entitled to a salute. I don't care what excuse you have, if you're talking to you're friend or whatever. You walked by me, you saw me. I deserve a salute, I saluted you." And later on I said, "Well if you want to, you can go ahead and call my commander up, report me, but you know who's going to look awkward here, because I had to correct you other than the other way around. If it was the other way around I would understand, but right now look at it...I said to them, "I don't think this was even worth it," because I had no respect for that person.

Steve Estes:

You felt that you were disrespected, not because of your sexuality, but because you had been in the army basically?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Well because of being in the army and in the military on the way is that we have a thing is that, I mean the officers, they always want to be treated with respect and everything so the enlisted men has to salute them and so what it is is that, they expect you to salute them, but if they don't salute (inaudible) you, they don't think that someone has to challenge them, but I threw them a curve right there. And then they understood because right away as soon as they found out I was an Other Service Veteran they would consider...I was sort of one of them crazy people (? I think I missed an important work) [Laughter] I didn't mind that at all, because there was guys there in the navy that came from the air force and the marines also, so it was really cool, especially when we got all together, we would talk about the navy like dogs. [Laughter] But also too, they walked kind of funny, too and I didn't like the way they marched. It was not, like, how do I say it, it was like... (Inaudible)

Steve Estes:

Uh-huh. Now you got...I guess someone found out or suspected you were gay in the navy?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

The funny part was that once I got into the navy from Norfolk, West Virginia I had to go to seaman's school there and then I was sent to Scotland. Actually they were going to send me to Kittyhawk, but I purposely failed my class because it was considered at that time 'The Flaming Cities,' it was a carrier with a thousand people or something like that, I'm not sure exactly, but it had a history of having fires onboard.

Steve Estes:

The U.S.S. Kittyhawk.

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Right and people were getting killed on there from fires and so, and the other thing too, I had never been out in the ocean before so I had to find whatever excuse there was to stay on land. Unfortunately, you know, yes I had gone into the navy, but I was not expecting to go out in the ocean. [Laughter] I wanted to have a position on land; you know solid ground, not flip-flopping like a little rubber duck in the middle of a bath tub, or actually in the ocean. So anyway, I went to Scotland, and in route there was a lady who had problems with her kids and because I'm a sympathetic person, I know how to handle kids, and I so I took over; she was just so happy and everything all the way to Korea, I mean all the way to Scotland, we went to Glasgow(Glasgow is in Scotland????) and once we arrived there she was so happy, then she said, "I want you to meet my husband because you've been so helpful." And so her husband (Inaudible) and I found out later on that he was the ship commander, but it was...when we say ship, this one was a floating dry dock, so it was close enough to land to me. But what happened was that, so he met me and he was very nice and everything, so once I got to the ship itself they have this crazy thing about this ninety days you have to do, you have to work in the galley and you have to clean up everything in the kitchen and things like that, but, because I was so good and also they would clean up the office quarters and the chiefs quarters, because I was so good the officers were fighting to get me to go to their part of the ship and take care of that because I was spitshine, because I'm used to getting, you know, whenever the drill sergeant, when I was in the army, was upset, he would tell you, "Whip out your toothbrush and start cleaning." So I got used to that, so I used the toothbrush in the corners and now to this day I've never seen a seaman use a toothbrush to clean a corner. But anyways so they fought over me all that time and then I got (Inaudible) and I befriended a commander, I mean the ship captain, at least from a distance, not really close and people respected me onboard, but then because I failed the school in Norfolk, they made me into a Bosun's Mate, which is to scrub...okay the floating dry dock was on this U.S.S. Alamos, this is where the big nuclear submarines came in and then they need to get overhauled or they need to get repainted, mostly repainted. So, in other words, if someone uses sonar or something like that, the sonar would bounce off this submarine which is coated in all this type of paint, reflective equipment, or whatever and anyways, first they would take (Inaudible) missiles, it's like ten or fifteen of them and watch those guys go up there and then you'd have to do that and I didn't like that too much, cause I prefer being a clerk or something like that (Inaudible). Sol went to my commander, I told him, I said, "You know sir, what is it going to take? What is it that I can do to get out of the navy?" And he said, "Well, there's nothing." I said, "Sir, what would happen if I brought drugs over here, would you think that it would be okay? I mean they'd kick me out, but they won't get too rough with me?" And he said, "Naw, if you brought it on the ship they'd just take it and throw it overboard [Laughter] and send you back out on shore." And then so I said, "I'll think about this." And I came back and I said, "Well, what'd happen if I tell you I was gay?" He said, "I already know that." [Laughter] And so I begged him, I said, "Please let me get out of here!" I said, "Maybe use the excuse that when I was in the army, actually when I was in the military I messed up my ankles and had surgery and they messed it up over there, but I was able to go into the army and do my duty and everything, maybe consider this medical discharge for my ankle." So he says, "Well, we're going to go ahead and go for that then." Cause he wanted to help me out. But meanwhile the commander under him, he was the ship captain (?), the commander found out that I was gay or suspected of being gay and he was after me, he wanted to kick me out. But the captain, he knew what was going on but he couldn't stop the other person because it would look really awkward, so I was able to get out and finally...let me see, and finally when I got out of there I was sent back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the funny part was, once I checked in...I also had three weeks vacation coming to me so I didn't have to report right away in, but I did report in. They wanted to take my i.d. card from me, but then I said, "I've still got vacation." So I kept it, went off base...but before getting off base the person who was a[Inaudible] referred me to another person to do the processing and all of a sudden this black queen came out and screamed, "How can I help you?" [Effeminate voice] And I'm like God Almighty, I'm like Oh My God, there's another type of world I never knew of. I'm like these guys...I mean these guys are really screamers here! Um, anyway I was laughing my butt off for three weeks, you know, I checked into the YMCA, and that was not because of the song neither. This was way before the song came out, I'm sure, but maybe I was the inspiration for the song or something. [Laughter]

Steve Estes:

It's right around that time!

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yeah, it's about that time. But then I became a bouncer and then became the body guard of the owner of the Ice Palace. It was a bar, the number one gay bar in west Manhattan at that time. And then I slowly started getting to know other people and getting into the gay community there, like I said I never knew anything as being a gay community before. Everything is twenty-four seven gay; I was not used to that, I was terrified of it. But, that's it. But let me add on there, the first encounter with a gay person I really actually knew was a gay person when I was in the army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and I didn't want to go to the regular pool halls, so I walked around exploring and I heard about this one bar called the Silver Fox and anyways I was looking around for it and I ran into this one bar and I saw this person dancing. You know, as you pass by you can look in and see someone dancing and I thought it was a go-go person and anyways all of a sudden I walked in and all of a sudden this black person screamed out, "Come here I want to suck your...!" You know... and I'm running, I ran and I darted out there and end up...I ran right into the door of the Silver Fox, which was blocks away and I told them about it and they said, "Oh yeah, that was a drag queen." [Laughter] That was my first time I ever (wassaw) a drag queen in my life and that scared the living hell out of me. I ran. All the military knowledge I had and I ran screaming! [Laughter]

Steve Estes:

Is that to save your life? [Laughing]

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Oh yeah, to save my life! But then all of a sudden when I went to the Silver Fox it mellowed me down and made me feel more comfortable. But I'm sorry for adding that on there but I figured there ought to be something that I, you know, you would ah, laugh at.

Steve Estes:

Sure, sure, so the Silver Fox was a gay club?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Yeah, it was like a little piano bar [Inaudible] was kind of neat.

Steve Estes:

Was that weird to have a piano bar in rural South Carolina?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

Oh yeah, it was kind of awkward, but see the funny part of the whole thing when I was mentioning about looking for the Silver Fox was because I remember that...I mean for some reason, I don't know how ironic this is, I mean we don't have to have {Inaudible] (Spartacus Book?) for knowing where all the gay bars are at. I mean you go into orientation, when you go to the courts, they tell you, "These are off limits." And they tell you exactly what the name of the bars are and of course, right away, you find out from the other people that those are gay bars. It's like why don't you just go ahead and tell us where they all are! [Laughter] So anyway that's where we went. It was kind of, you know, adventurous... it was fun. It's more fun than it is [Inaudible], I guarantee you.

Steve Estes:

Let me ask you one last question and that is if you had to look back on your time in the military to think about its legacy for your life, like how it [Inaudible], what would you say?

Eduard Mike Crawford:

The military was the best thing in my life. Because what it is is that first of all it proved to me that I didn't know everything and definitely my parents didn't know everything. But it let me open my mind or at least was forcing my mind to open and realize that there are other people who are more wiser and I learned it from them. And these people were not just people who talked you actually see them perform these inquiries and I hope(?) you go over there and say, "How do you deal(?) a weapon?" or something like that. They don't just throw you a manual they go over there and strip the weapon down to nothing and rebuild it right in front of you versus say, "Here's the manual or watch somebody else." They take it in hand, so I learned from that. Also I love that they taught me respecting others that deserve to be respected, but also, too to respect those in uniforms doesn't mean you had to respect the person themselves. The other thing, it gave me common sense and learned how to use initiative and made more of a man of myself. I was only a boy going in there and I became more of a man than ever before. So you know what I mean, there's nothing that's straight saying "Boy to Men" and "Girl to Women" and there's nothing in between. And when you get out it's 'honorable' or 'dishonorable' or 'medical' and its simple and sweet and that's exactly how the military taught you, 'black' or 'white.' But at the same time too they understand when you go through the gray area that you're learning and that's part of life. I miss it a lot because a lot of the screw-ups at the end when I left the army, I could have stayed longer, but what [inaudible] (they?) didn't give me a chance to continue. I don't know if it was there botch up purposely or what, but maybe because of Korea, because [inaudible] but other than that I miss the hell out of it because to this day I am positive I would have be able to be at least first sergeant or (?) sergeant major and I would have been proud to serve.

Steve Estes:

[Inaudible] thank you and let me say thank you Mike.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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