Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Military LGBT

    Lately I have been seeing a lot of images and references to "Gay Military" people. One that stood out was an episode of Two Broke Girls on CBS. The point of it all is a conception by straight people that the military is full of gay people or it is a place that creates gay people. The point of non-straight people being in the military doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I am proud of that. The part that gives me grief is the misconception that the military has a higher percentage homosexual population and that non military people make a big deal of referencing it.

    I was in the Army for fifteen years. Yes, there are gay, bisexual and lesbian people in the military. There are gay, bisexual and lesbian people outside the military too. Get over it. Why are people making a big deal about it? Here is why...

   The military has always been a macho, tough organization, no matter what country you live in. Why? Military people have to do tough jobs and when it comes to conflict with another country, you want your enemy to fear you. You don't want your enemy to think that you are soft or weak. This is the reason that for centuries, armed forces have restricted homosexuals from their ranks as well as females from combat roles. It was never a question of whether or not they could do their duty but a concern over appearance. The one story that was always floating around back in the day to reinforce this was, "If you were being held captive by the Tonton Macoute, who would you want to come to your rescue; the politically correct, gay friendly, women included forces of some UN nation or the fucking French Foreign Legion?" That made a point. Would anyone care if half the hair dressers at the salon are gay? No. What about half of the Army? Yes, it's perception.

   Where this falls off is the notion that any armed force is 100% straight; even in the fucking French Foreign Legion. Military commanders will deny or argue this to save their own face because of the perception of weakness again. Everyone wants to be the strongest. The argument itself is unsound. Prove to me that women or homosexuals are weaker. Women can give birth to 10 pound babies. What is tougher than that? Alexander the Great conquered half the known world and it was well known of that he was bisexual and kept male concubines with him on campaigns. So the argument really has no basis.

  Regardless, modern day western military organization have been forced to accept gay persons in their ranks. They have always been there but now they don't have to hide. It wasn't so easy not long ago. When I joined up in 1984, homosexual behaviour of any kind was unacceptable and punishable with dismissal with disgrace. You had to swear on oath before being enrolled that you 100% straight. That same year a group of eight female air force personnel were rounded up and publicly shamed and booted out for having a party, off base, on their own time involved lesbian activity. When I had been in for about a year, it was evident that there were lots of non straight people in the military. I estimated that about a third of the women were bi or lesbian. It was well known that the Navy was good place to be if you were a gay man. I myself was well aware that I was bisexual and had a penchant for wearing women's clothes but I towed the line as was required and kept it to myself.

   This hypocrisy that we lived with took its toll on many people. I knew lots of other non straight people and kept their secrets as I kept my own but still many were caught and charged and subsequently thrown out. It was a shame and a waste of many good people. The breaking point for me was while on an operation in a foreign country. It was a hot zone with live ammo and combat involved. My days were a flurry of keeping track of who killed who and how many. It was also about survival. Many people I worked with received injuries and some were killed. One day I receive a report that one of my people was being formerly charged for being homosexual. It was one of my best people. I knew that she was gay but I never cared. Somebody else thought it was important and filed the charge. I fought tooth and nail to keep my soldier but the system claimed her. One night in the mess I had a word with the Brigade General about the matter and my displeasure over it but he told me that nothing would have happened if she hadn't been so obvious. It was a matter of perception.

    Only a year after that incident, our military had to adopt the Charter of Human Rights which meant that homosexuals could no longer be discriminated against even in the military. There were a lot of redresses and some people who had been thrown out had good cases for reinstatement or legal action. It in no way changed the number of non-straight personnel in the military. It just meant that people no longer had to hide the fact. Women were also given access to combat roles. It changed perception. Most other western nations have followed suit in some ways. Do our enemies think of us as weaker now?

  Its this new openness and social media that has shown the world that there are plenty of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in military organizations everywhere but are there really a higher percentage of non-straight people in the military compared to outside. Truthfully, not likely. It is probably proportional to the rest of society. The fact that it is accepted in the military puts those people in a spot light for all to see. Military people live, eat, sleep and fight with each other 24/7 so secrets are almost impossible to keep. There is virtually no closet left in the military. People in average society could have half a dozen non-straight people working within a hundred feet of them at their office and might not know their preferences. Thicker closet walls exist.

   The fact that people are still making a fuss about it at all shows the real problem with society; their priorities. The best thing about an accepting military policy is that allows that service to focus on what really matters like getting the job done and fighting the good fight instead of running around on witch hunts for gays within the ranks. Had the same policy been in place on that operation that I spoke of, I would have had my best Sargent with me the whole time and not had to waste time with a trial and been able to better perform my duties keeping track of who killed who and how many. Seriously, who cares who you like to have sex with when mortar bombs are dropping on your head or a twelve year old is aiming an AK-47 at you. Priorities!

   This is why military people, particularly those who have experienced combat are far more accepting of non straight people today. It's about priorities. We know that there are far more important things in life than who someone wants to have sex with. If the guy next to you is putting his life on the line to keep you alive that you are happy to hug him, shake his hand, share lunch, be his friend and you could give a shit if he has a boyfriend or husband. In fact, you would be supportive of him. People in the civilian world can't say the same thing about the person in the next cubical. It is misplaced priorities.

  In many ways military organizations have jumped past the rest of society in this. Does it mean that everything is all better now? No. Is there still hazing and homophobia in the military? Yes. There still is in regular society too. The military is just better at dealing with it now. Back in the day, abuse of gays was accepted if not encouraged and homosexuality was a chargeable offence. Now, homosexuality is accepted and abuse against one is a chargeable offence.

   When I think back to people that I worked with who were homophobic, abusive to gays, who were involved in the witch hunts, I want to confront them again face to face. I'm not looking for any type of revenge or to even vent. All I want is to ask if they trusted me with their lives. Did they always have faith that I had their back? Were they glad that I was looking out for them? Then I would tell them how much I love cross dressing.