A question about gays in the military

I’m very conflicted about gays serving openly in the military.  To me, the military is an institution that must function optimally.  It’s mission cannot be compromised to satisfy social experimentation.  Nevertheless, gays have served and will continue to serve with distinction — provided that they keep secret a significant part of their self-identity, a notion that seems un-American.  Frankly, DADT seems like a workable, although somewhat unkind, compromise.

I don’t want to debate the whole issue, though.  Instead, I want to ask one very narrow question about gays being able to serve openly in the military.

I was talking with Charles Martel today about the fact that guys, whether they’re straight or gay, will be guys, meaning that their nature, sexually, is to be the predator.  If gays can serve openly, will that mean that those who have more predatory instincts will be open in their pursuit of other service members, straight or gay?  You have to assume that some will.

Those people who have acknowledged this probable reality, and who support openly gay service people, say that the military already has systems in place for sexual harassment.  These systems, of course, apply to harassment between men and women (again, with the assumption that men are the harassers, and women the harassees).

But here’s my question:  Will men who are on the receiving end of harassment from an openly gay service person complain?  It occurred to me that, for men who are being harassed, it’s not just about sex, it’s about sexual identity.  Will they be afraid to speak up for fear of someone thinking, “Well, they asked for it by sending out gay signals?”  For women, the “they asked for it” is about behavior, which is bad enough, but for men, it’s about identity, which can be a sufficiently frightening issue to stifle the men altogether.  I’m sorry that sounds muddled, but I just wonder if men, especially young men, will have the courage to admit to homosexual harassment, or if they’ll fear that it will somehow make people assume that they are gay.

So I’m curious if straight guys reading this post have been on the receiving end of subtle or overt propositions from other men?  And, if so, would those straight guys have been willing to report those overtures if they came from someone inappropriately using a power position or negligently putting a mission at risk?

Ultimately, I don’t know if this really matters.  One could say that, if men are so insecure about their sexuality that they won’t report abuse, they’re too weak to be in “this man’s” Army anyway.  But I do wonder….

As always with posts on sensitive issues like this, I am not making an invitation to gay bashing, which is an inexcusable and execrable approach to the issue.  I’m simply curious about the dynamic of straight young men, who usually get to be the sexual initiator, who are confronted by gay young men who also want to be the sexual initiator.

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  • http://lookingforlissa.wordpress.com lookingforlissa

    Personally, Book, I think men would be more likely to report sexual harassment from a man than from a woman. “That flaming gaywad came onto me!”* is much more likely than “That woman made inappropriate advances!” Have you looked into reports of sexual harassment female-on-male? Maybe I’m just thinking Disclosure, but it does happen.

    *Apologies if anyone was offended — I tried to phrase it such that it sounded like something a harassed man might say, without veering over the line into insult or obscenity. Hope I juggled it okay.

  • http://lookingforlissa.wordpress.com lookingforlissa

    (That “Disclosure” was supposed to be underlined. I meant the book by Michael Crichton.)

  • wrwoodman

    I spent 10 years in the Navy.  Life on the ship is a very close environment.  I have to be able to trust the persons I’m sharing a room with so that I feel secure in my person and possessions.  Trust in your shipmate is the key to a cohesive fighting unit.  How can I trust someone if I think they are trying to come on to me?  Having gays serve openly in the military  is akin to having men and women share the same sleeping quarters.  Yea it can work but many will be uncomfortable with it.

  • JackMayo

    Most gay people I know do not want to be with a straight person, they want a relationship with someone who accepts them for who they are and who wants to be with them.  I believe sexual harassment by guys towards other guys will continue to be a lesser issue than guys towards girls if DADT is repealed.

  • suek

    My concern is about the possibilities of legal actions. Many gays are legally aggressive. At the moment, you can’t accuse someone of being prejudiced against you because of homosexuality because you can’t claim to _be_ homosexual and stay in the military.  If that changes, however, I can see a plethora of lawsuits claiming bias against promotions due to homosexuality.  Or the reverse, an affirmative action sort of thing promoting homosexuals simply because they _are_ homosexuals.  I think we’ve already seen this with regard to blacks and women in the service.  Either reaction is detrimental, I think.  Both to individuals concerned and to the military itself.
    To me, the DADT means that you have your military life and your private life and never the twain shall meet.  The problem I see on a personal basis is the close contact required in conflict situations when the “twain” are forced together with no avoidance possible.  Seems to me that such a situation could be a morale buster.
    >>…they want a relationship with someone who accepts them for who they are and who wants to be with them.>>
    This is pretty normal for heterosexual relationships as well.  But the problem isn’t with “normal”…it’s with those who want to force _their_ desires on others who are not interested.  Granted that they are in the minority, but they could still cause havoc – just as heterosexual harassers do.

  • jj

    Sue makes the best and most likely point.  The army becomes Lawsuitville.  Everything in this country is already infested with lawyers gumming up the works, do we really want that for the military?
    And as far as gays becoming predatory of non-gays, I suspect there’s little chance of that.  Lookingforlissa expresses it correctly – except a touch too politely, “flaming gaywad” is probably not how it would be put – and there would likely be a painful consequence, followed by some time in the hospital for said aggressive gay.

  • Charles Martel

    I’m not in favor of repealing DADT which works because it forces homosexuals who would be aggressive in an open environment to “curb their enthusiasm.” In my experience with homosexuals as co-workers, subordinates, acquaintances and friends, I found that they fell into two categories:

    The first category was people who acknowledged their preferences and were not closeted about them, but acted as polite adults who didn’t make a big deal out of their homosexuality or bring it into conversations unless it was relevant. DADT is hardly an oppressive thing for folks like that.

    The second category, which is a pestiferous bane even in a “progressive” cesspool like San Francisco, is the militant contingent that is as obsessed with its nether regions as two year olds are with the fact that they are ambulatory s**t factories. You just never hear the end of it. DADT keeps creeps like that in line, which is the beauty of it. 

    What the opponents of DADT earnestly desire is the ability to San Franciscoize the armed forces, and turn them into yet another series of sandboxes where dreary leftist identity politics can smash the furniture and smear the walls. 

    If you repeal DADT, first-category homosexuals will continue to be as circumspect and adult as always, so there would be few problems from their quarter. But the crazies, the ones who fist, and felch, and tilt endlessly at straight windmills, will come oozing out. When they do, given the cowardice of the current U.S. military command structure, they are going to create some terrible disruptions.

    Troops under assault by the crazies will find that the bent ones’ behavior will be ignored, downplayed, excused, and whitewashed, and both straight and homosexual troops who despise sexual assault will dare not point out that the lovely experiment in tolerance is a fraud. It will be dangerous for one’s military career to point out that not only does the emperor have no clothes, he’s sporting a perpetual stiffie.

    I would rather live with a clunky compromise that has worked pretty well for 17 years—emphasis on compromise—than give into an all-or-nothing demand that opens the door to poisoning by the spiteful, never-satisfied rage of the left. DADT ain’t broke, despite what some tearful drama queens claim, so don’t fix it.

  • JKB

    The real question is would the men complain regardless.  The type of men and women who join the military are on the whole not the type to complain but rather resolve issues themselves.  Not long ago, Neptunus Lex had a post where commenters mentioned their experiences with DADT.  Seems the lesbians are the aggressive ones, currently taking advantage of the fear straight sailors have of being labeled bigoted if they complain and being blatant in their harassment.  When the DADT is no longer an issue, there will be an adjustment period but I suspect the aggressors will find it a bit less comfortable than they do now.
    The stigma on the complainant is a powerful ally of the aggressors.  I knew a young woman who planned a career as a civilian mariner.  She quite plainly told me that if she were raped in her job, she wouldn’t report it since she’d never be hired again as no one would trust her.  I suspect there is a spectrum here but her assumption was essentially true.  Of course, that didn’t mean the assailant wouldn’t pay for their crime.
    The TV show Big Bang Theory had a hilarious skit along these lines.  The robot like geek Sheldon now has a girlfriend who is also very robot like without social skills.  Penny the female character of the show is driving them on a first date and trying to start conversation.  At one point, she complements the girlfriend’s hair.  The girlfriend asks if Penny is a homosexual.  Penny says no, just giving a complement.  The response is:”I would have been more flattered if you were homosexual”   That to me seems where we’re going eventually.
    In any case, the real long-term impact of open serving gays in the military is the loss of rationalization for the separation of the sexes.  If homosexuals can room together, how do you justify the separation of males and females?  Something other than sexual attraction?  Eventually, berthing will be assigned by rank and job with no jumping the queue due to sex separation.  Or more separation will be required, i.e., heterosexual males with heterosexual males, heterosexual females with heterosexual females, homosexual male with homosexual females and the bisexuals you have to give a room by themselves.  BTW, right after that rule is imposes, I project a sharp increase in the number of self-described bisexuals in the military.

  • Spartacus

    The most important point here is a bit tangential, but should be stated first:  Gay-on-straight harrassment would be among the least of all worries involving the repeal of DADT.  Honestly, allowing quadriplegics to serve in the infantry could be much more easily accomodated with much less disruption.  Unit cohesion is one of the cornerstones of an effective force, and that would be destroyed.
    That being said, I wouldn’t worry overly much about gay-on-straight harrassment in and of itself.  In all but the very rarest of cases, actually persuading or intimidating a straight, young, military male into engaging in anything physical is a brick wall that a harrasser is free to impact.  And what about the repercussions of refusal?  Supervisors, whether gay or straight, military or civilian, can (and do) find unfair reasons to take up a grudge against certain subordinates.  That’s just the way the cookie has crumbled since the invention of hierarchy, and should be addressed under the more generalized topics of poor leadership and abuse of power — where it should most certainly be slammed.
    As for personal experiences, it’s all civilian-side.  Been hit on by other guys three times that I can think of, and the “that I can think of” should give an indication of how intensely I brood over it.  A polite refusal, even when not really politely asked, and then file it away under ‘W’ for “Um, yeah, Whatever.”  Do I worry that people might think I’m giving off “gay signals” if I admit this?  Um, no.  Two were random strangers on separate occasions who spotted me walking along at a distance.  The third was an acquaintance whom I would not have suspected of being gay, but who appears to have falsified the hypothesis that “Gadar” is foolproof.  In the workplace, only one incident of sexual harrassment that I can think of, but that was a gal, the company owner’s daughter.  Her character was well known, and it was only a slight annoyance, so again, brush her off and file under “Whatever.”
    On the mil side, I realize as I pull my thoughts together, my anecdotes might paint me as a misognyist.  I am not; I worked with many very fine women soldiers, including my favorite squad leader, who was intensely cool because of, among other things, her indifference to PC tempests in teapots, and because she put the Army mission first, believing that women should be forced to meet the same physical standards as men.  (I wouldn’t necessarily go that far for most MOS’s, but respected the unselfishness of her position).  But the trend that I notice in retrospect was that every case of a sexual kerfuffle I can think of (except one) was a case of an ambitious female subordinate taking the initiative to advance her career.
    There was Corporal Curvaceous, who was promoted to Sergeant Curvaceous by Major Stud a bit faster than what seemed normal.  Then the battalion commander called Major Stud on a Saturday morning one time, and had to ask why Sergeant Curvaceous was answering his home phone.  (Answer: bad OpSec).  Major Stud was invited to leave the Army, and thereafter remembered without sympathy as “Major Dumbf**k.”  Sergeant Curvaceous was transferred to another unit where, according to the grapevine, she worked closely under her new commander — too closely under him, as history repeated itself.
    Then there was Sergeant Golly, a fellow from our unit, who met a gal in one of his NCOES schools and took a fancy to her until learning, to his shock, what bad news she was.  She had successfully greased the skids to E-6 and then E-7 by, um, currying favor with her superiors, the first one having been male and the second female.  Her natural proclivities were straight, but nothing took a back seat to her next stripe.  “Would you d*ke for your eight?” asked an astonished Golly.  “Oh, f**k yeah,” she replied.
    Then there was the drill sergeant in my basic training company.  This is back when basic was segregated by gender, so it was a *very* male environment.  One day, as we were hurrying up and waiting out at some training range, Sergeant Upright began to tell stories to pass the time.  And being a drill sergeant, boy, did he have some stories to tell.  At the end, he told one from a previous (and female) training cycle.  One night in the barracks, with no one else in view, one of the trainees, Private Party, let slip the towel or whatever, baring all of her charms, and gave a come-hither look to Sergeant Upright.  “So there was only one thing for a man to do,” he said.  We were suspended in rapt silence.  “Smoke ’em and drive on!”  In other words, Private Party had gotten her private party with Sergeant Upright, but to her chagrin, it only involved push-ups, flutter kicks, and running in place down at the sand pit until Sergeant Upright finally got tired.  Two hundred horny young men burst out in hoots, hollers, hooahs, and general cheering at a story about a guy who did *not* “score.”  We cheered because he had scored a moral victory instead; because we could believe in the fidelity and integrity of our chain of command; because there were no special groups or favors; and because the institution which we had entered a few weeks before was not corrupt.  This is the Army as it was meant to be, reflecting the idealism of self-selected citizen-soldiers embracing the very American ideals of equality and justice.
    What I draw from these examples is not that women are the problem — there was plenty of low behavior by the men, especially downrange, but outside the chain of command — but that a small percentage of bad soldiers can do a lot of damage to unit morale when you mix too many soldiers together too closely who would like to get closer still.  Factor in typical attitudes toward homosexuality among the military demographic — various and nuanced, yes, but far from comfortable in close quarters to say the least — and it’s best just to acknowledge reality as it is rather than attempt some grand social engineering and re-education scheme which seeks to enforce a fiction, while simultaneously maintaining the most amazing and fine-tuned fighting force in the history of the universe.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Spartacus: I realized listening to your extremely funny anecdotes (great innuendo, by the way, ’cause you kept it clean), that I’ve never been “hit” upon in an unwelcome way. That by the way is different from never having been approached appropriately, which I’m happy to say has happened to me. (This helps explain the husband.)

    I attribute my inviolability to two things. First, I’m completely clueless. I suspect people have tried to hit on me and, at least when I was younger, I didn’t realize what they were doing. Now I’m pretty sure they’re not trying, especially because I send out strong married mommy vibes.

    Second, sadly, I also send out the wrong vibes. When I was back at law school, my then boyfriend was sitting in the cafeteria with a group of people, including the Torts professor. I came by, said hello, chatted a few minutes and left. The Torts professor looked ruminatively after me and then said, “I don’t know why, but she always reminds me of a Latin professor.” Aagh. How unappealing!

    All of which explains, I guess, why I’m asking this question.  I don’t even know how I’d handle the situation!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    There is political pressure and protection of special groups. So women and gays are protected. Even if the army wanted to punish bad behavior, they will not be allowed to. That’s how politics work. Free from basic considerations of military necessity.
    If it wasn’t for political patronage and coverups, women and gays could be handily integrated into any military structure with a few simple rules and divisions. As it stands, not so much.

  • 11B40

    During one of my corporate employments, I had to attend one of those corporate employment seminars which dealt with dealing with corporate employees of various persuasions.  After taking much more than I should have, I raised my hand and asked if I were bothered by a homosexual employee, should I report it to my supervisor. When the trainer replied, “Yes, of course.”, I added on a Bronx addendum as to whether I should do that before I called the ambulance.
    My basic problem with homosexuality in the military is that it’s one more problem, where, if you’re doing it right, everyone already has more than enough problems with which to deal.  I read an article a while back on the American Thinker web site in which the author addressed DADT in terms of the need for social taboos and the resulting “sexualized” and “non-sexualized” zones.  Like what used to be “men’s rooms” and “locker rooms”, society required some areas to be “non-sexualized” zones and while so-called “glory holes” certainly existed in public bathrooms, they were viewed as aberrations and violations. While the taboo was violated, it basically remained in place.  Our post-modern, morally-relativistic betters fail to see or accept this type of limitation on human behavior.
    Another problem that I have with the repeal of DADT is its point of origin.  The people who want it repealed, like those who want higher percentages of women in or services, are no friends of the military.  I don’t think that degradation of our services combat effectiveness rates very highly on their list of things to consider.  Another slice off the military salami, another small tyranny of a minority.  Will our military survive the repeal of DADT? I believe it will, but it will not be the force it would be with DADT in place.  Not very long ago, during the rough days in Iraq, our military, our wonderfully volunteer military, was grossly undermanned (and I mean undermanned).  Our young troopers, and unfortunately nowadays, their young families, were put under great amounts of stress do to multiple deployments because, in my opinion, we failed to re-instate our military draft. Our leaders, both military and civilian, failed our military and our country buy avoiding that politically tough decision.  If they can ignore that need, when the muslim world, 1.3 billion strong, is on the march, they will have no problem inflicting the repeal of DADT on our service members.
    My initial military experience involved an all-expense-paid trip to sunny Southeast Asia.  The unit with which I served, due to the miracle of “Airmobility” usually spent 30-40 days at a time in the bush.  Now most young men can suffer a certain amount of deprivation for a certain amount of time if everyone else seems to be in pretty much the same boat.  That equation, however, changes greatly when some are getting some and some ain’t. One of my concerns with the repeal of DADT is the aftermath.  Who’s planning for that?  Will there be homosexual ghettos, or support groups, or required homosexual propaganda efforts?  I’m betting yes.  A decade or so ago, there was a interesting series of unfortunate events on the USS Norton Sound when all the homosexual planets aligned.  There will be more if DADT is repealed perhaps someday we’ll have photos of a military “Up Your Alley Fair” to peruse.

  • NavyOne

    I recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East. I have 3 years in the States in front of me and am working a shore duty billet where I serve with a lot of civilians. Not three weeks ago I was getting coffee at the coffee mess and two civilians were having a loud discussion. The male was a boss, a GS-14 or Commander equivalent, very senior in terms of rank. He is also very obviously gay.

    Suddenly their conversation changed and the female civilian starting talking about some guy she had a crush on in accounting.  The GS-14 then chimed in with his opinion.  He had seen the accounting guy naked in the gym showers and started rattling off flaws with his body.  It was the most awkward work moment I have had in my life.  The gay guy then crowed three times: I’ve seen him naked!!!

    I muttered something and left the coffee area.  It bothered me that I was going to have to work with this GS-14 and he was so blatantly unprofessional.  Although not my direct boss, he is in charge of a division that I work with.  And he has clear seniority.  I complained to another officer of my rank and she agreed about the poor taste on the man’s part.  In his defense, the other O said that she had never seen him (the gay man) talk like that before.

    I have been questioning my decision to work with this agency/group.  (There are billets there for naval officers.)  Daily I have been checking the IAs (Individual Augmentees- deployments) to Afghanistan.  I have thought about complaining, but this GS-14 is clearly well-liked and I am the new guy.

    I am a hard worker and have always earned the civilian’s respect where I go. I also consider myself a nice guy, but I generally have been avoiding the GS-14 due to his statements.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Re 11B40 (#12): “Now most young men can suffer a certain amount of deprivation for a certain amount of time if everyone else seems to be in pretty much the same boat. That equation, however, changes greatly when some are getting some and some ain’t. One of my concerns with the repeal of DADT is the aftermath. Who’s planning for that? Will there be homosexual ghettos, or support groups, or required homosexual propaganda efforts?”

    That is a very interesting point. When I wrote this post, I was thinking in terms of men who rebuffed, or wanted to rebuff, advances, not men who yielded.

    As you all know, my mom was interned by the Japanese during WWII. The Japanese divided the camps into women and children, on the one hand, and older boys and men on the other hand. All these people were interned for more than 3.5 years.

    According to my mom, the women did not have affairs (or, if they did, she didn’t know about them). However, the men, deprived of women for so long, and without any commitment to celibacy, used each other for relief.

    She said that, in later conversations with the wives of these men, they were wracked with guilt.  This was, of course, a different place and a different time, but that’s a consideration too.

    But soldiers have always looked for aid, I guess.  My father used to tell a dreadful RAF joke, which I’ll pass on to you:

    During WWII, a member of the RAF, after a year in the desert, found himself desperate for a sexual outlet.  One of his mates seemed much more relaxed, so our guy asked, “How do you do it?”  The mate answered:  “Simple.  I use camels.  A female camel can be a very satisfying experience.”

    Our man was desperate enough that he decided to follow this advice.  So one day, he got himself a camel, and headed out into the desert.  The only problem was that the camel would not stand still.  He’d get himself nicely positioned, and the camel would amble off.  This went on for quite a while, with the RAF guy getting increasingly frustrated.

    Suddenly, he and the camel went over a dune and there, lying in the sand, was a beautiful, tremendously, staggeringly beautiful woman.  He rushed to her side, and she gasped “Please, give me some water and I’ll do anything for you.  Anything at all.”

    Naturally, our guy gave her his water.  When she was done drinking, she batted her eyelashes at him and asked “What can I do for you?”

    He was quiet for a moment, and then replied:  “You know what I really need?  I need you to hold my camel for me.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Without the cut in the Army after the Cold War, the removal of some couple odd divisions from the force rolls, there would have been much more flexibility in deployment options. Plus the fact that Korea and Kosovo were taking up a disproportionate (useless) share of US troops that were stuck there and could not be simultaneously deployed or held in reserve for deployment to the ME. The divisions and funding were cut to produce the Peace Dividend of the 90s. What that ultimately means is that the people at the pont of the spear get to die in greater numbers for somebody’s “Peace Dividend” they cashed out for luxuries in the past.
    Because of this, a draft can be easily avoided. Simply increase the force rolls for volunteers and keep them that way, rather than cutting them whenever some politician wants some more money for prostitutes and private jets.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Kosovo= Democrat Clinton

    Korea=Democrat Truman

    Spreading our forces thin for decades so we can’t deploy them where it is needed, isn’t what I call “securing the world” or national security.

  • Mike Devx

    You asked for the straight guys to say what they thought, but I thought I’d offer some opinions up as well.

    You’ll have a problem in the military only with those guys – gay and straight – who want to get their rocks off and don’t care HOW it happens.  It’s really got nothing to do with being straight or gay itself.  What percentage of gay guys and straight guys fall into this category – especially in the military – I don’t have a clue.  It might be a very small problem, it might be a huge problem.

    I don’t think you’d see many problems with “relationships”, myself.  It’s the one-off encounters that happen almost by chance, happenstance, circumstance.  Then again, there ARE the habitual “sex cruisers” who’ll do it anytime with almost anyone for almost any reason – I tend to think the military wouldn’t have many of those but I honestly don’t know.  But if they’re there, they’ll be constantly on the prowl, looking and lurking and come-hithering with a simply astonishing aggressive abandon.