An association with a Baptist minister and his wife nearly caused me to get kicked out of the Army. I turned to the church in hopes of curbing a budding homosexual nature, but instead, found myself defending the very nature of Adam.
My search for salvation ended with a crucifixion of my character. I left the Baptist Church in Ansbach, Germany, scared to death of all things religious, not understanding how it was that I nearly got a dishonorable discharge over a Black woman all things!
Unlike Lot’s wife, I have never looked back, for the church or for a wife. I decided an eternity in hell was no worse than a life of lies, so I turned my back on the church, my country, and carried the cross of pride instead.
Lisa Payne, a black girl in my platoon, fell madly in love with me in the winter of 1986, the year I left the lord. This Mary Magdalena of the Cold War was the cause for my near early dismissal from the service. She, like me, had far too many demons to be cast-out, so we bonded, like disciples of mismatched sexuality in an Army where our very souls were questioned by authority that we were not yet old enough to understand.
Lisa and I arrived together at the First Armored Division on a snowy night in early December and were both assigned to 141 Signal Battalion, Charlie Company. As we pulled our green duffle bags from a bus, loaded them unto a jeep and squeezed side-by-side in the back seat, we both felt a certain kinship towards one another without having to speak a word.
Life is lonely in the Army at peacetime; with no war to fight, there is only the battle of love to conquer. The holidays were especially hard that year. It was my first Christmas away from home. Lisa, who wasted no time in making many new friends in Ansbach, seemed to sense that I was extremely shy. A depression settled over me as snow blanketed the tiny Bavarian town. Without Lisa, I would have become a nutcracker. She took in this stranger and comforted me with the gift of Christ-like fellowship.
“Come down to my room after formation,” she insisted. We watched in silence and saluted as the American flag was lowered and four service men in the distant motor pool carefully folded the flag. “Let’s eat together again, and go back to my room, and talk like we always do. Maybe we’ll go out to the Liberty Bell again tonight. What do you think?” Lisa asked as we rushed inside the barracks the moment First Sergeant Benovedes gave the official dismissal of troops for the day.
Lisa took me out on my first trip to a public bar, a little dive with a disco ball called the Liberty Bell. In Germany, there was no drinking age. At 18, I was not a heavy drinker anyway, but the German beer, although bitter, was quite delicious, especially when gulping it down like water when we danced. We danced non-stop that first night out to a bar. We drank until we used our last large silver coin, a five- mark piece. We spent it on two beers at the Liberty Bell that were seasoned with grains of white rice that caused the beverage to sparkle like champagne.