Drag shows and the American military

Sailors-Dancing-on-DeckAs the picture to my left shows, there is nothing new in the American military about men in what used to be an all-male, or predominantly-male, society still trying to resurrect a simulacrum of their civilian life.  Two musicals that emerged during and immediately after World War II make heavy use of men in drag.  The one with which most people are familiar is Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which revolved around sailors in the South Pacific during WWII.

Most people remember South Pacific for two reasons:  it’s principled stand against racism and the gooey hit song “Some Enchanted Evening.”  I doubt many think of the scene in which Ray Walston dresses himself up in a coconut shell bra for the amusement of his fellow sailors and Marines (starting at 3:02):

Irving Berlin made even greater use of drag performances in “This Is The Army,” the Broadway-style review he created for the Army. It’s all-male, all-Army cast toured throughout the European theater in the thick of the war, bring a great deal of pleasure to the troops.

Because it was a Broadway-style review, Berlin of course had to write parts for women. And because there were no women to be had, every female part was a drag part. I can’t find any discrete clips but the entire movie is below, with the drag scenes at 58:00, 1:08, 1:12, and 1:28.

As best as I can tell, regardless of whether individual performers and audience members were getting a homoerotic thrill from the drag performance, the purpose behind these WWII shows was entirely heterosexual: it was to fill the gap the troops felt in their lives because of the women they left behind.

That was then. This is now:

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Since the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, U.S. military bases have hosted a gay marriage ceremonies and a potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise.

Six servicemembers — gay, lesbian and straight — donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military’s LGBT community.


But an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200.

“We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said.

Amid the unexpected success, OutServe carefully avoided any mention of politics, but its variety show comes at a pivotal time for gay civil rights in the United States, with many states passing laws dealing with marriage or debating individual liberties.

It is also a sign of the times within the military; just a few years ago, gay and lesbian drag performances on a military base would have been unthinkable and potentially a cause for dismissal from the service.

The repeals of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act — the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — have allowed gays and lesbians in the military to be open with their sexuality for the first time.

The historic shift appears to be mostly accepted and embraced throughout the ranks despite warnings the DADT repeal could harm order and good discipline.

On Saturday night, the Rocker club was packed for performances by servicemembers using stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise – a crowd favorite — and Artemis Faux. The event’s sole lesbian performer took the drag king name Manny Nuff.

I think Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, and Oscar Hammerstein would be surprised.

I leave to your personal beliefs whether this is a change for the better or not, insofar as American military health is concerned. I just note that the military’s focus has changed a lot in the last seventy or so years.

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  • http://roarkmj.blogspot.com/ MikeR

    I served in the Army from 1967 -77.  As you point out, “Those were different days”.  I used to be quite proud of the military and considered it one of the fundamental institutions supporting the American way of life.  I am less proud today.  The military has been infiltrated by the Progressive agenda and is now a shadow of its former self.  We have diminished a once great institution and a once great nation.

  • Jose

    I’m not pleased with these changes, but once the novelty wears off, the excitement of the LGBT crowd will wane, and the progressives will wander away  in search of new institutions to conquer.

  • Jose

    Or, I should say, in search of new ways to be victimized.

  • 11B40

    Speaking of “South Pacific”, I’m sticking with “There’s Nothing Like a Dame” because nothing’s quite the same.
    As to our miraculous all-volunteer military, I’m pretty sure that, in the afterglow of the repeal of DADT, all the serious weirdnesses will be appropriately buried lest the citizenry be informed or aroused.  The LGBTxyz grooming process has actually be going on since the early ’70s last, and it’s not going to flag any time soon.  This anecdote is just the latest bit of how it’s going in today’s military… lots of fun and games.
    You see, these Progressive folks are playing revolution while what we have for representation are politely playing politics.  Call me when our young men start growing their hair out and demanding to shower with the females, heterosexuals preferably, and maybe I’ll rethink it all.
    But, otherwise, I just can’t see how America’s ever going to get out of the financial and cultural holes our Progressive  brethern and sistren and whateveren are continuing to dig for us.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    I’m with 11B40….I “can’t see how America’s ever going to get out of the financial and cultural holes our Progressive  brethern and sistren and whateveren are continuing to dig for us.”
    However, the makeup of the military forces we put into the field is certainly going to change.  I was born in San Francisco (in the first half of the last century), but that doesn’t make me prepared to share a tent or take a shower with people who view me as an object of sexual lust.  And I suspect that most of the young southern males who fill the ranks of our military services are no more inclined than I am to put up with it. Of course, what this means is that we will have an “Army”, but not really a “fighting force”.  In today’s world, that means lots more people will die than would be the case if America retained her strength.
    I’m waiting for the civil rights case to be filed by some guy, alleging that it’s discrimination to be required to shower with gay guys when the women have showers to themselves!   Honestly…..fair is fair – if straight men must put up with leering and worse in their every-day life (and we all know exactly what a complaint about this kind of thing will get them.  Charges of sexual harassment will be considered only in one direction.), why are they not allowed the same kind of freedom with the objects of their sexual interest? 
    It’s got to be the “New Army” — when everyone is in the same barracks, using the same restrooms and showers, Utopia will have arrived…and (magic amazo!) with no downsides whatever!!

    • lee

      Speaking of sexual harassment in the Armed Forces…
      I notice that the left talks about pretty much solely about females sexually harassed by males, as if it is one way street, and males in the military are never the victimes of sexual harassment. Yet I read somewhere that while a larger PERCENTAGE of females are sexually harassed, in sheer numbers, the men get it far more, so the percentage of harrassed members of the military are mostly men.
      The whole “desexualization” of the military has been a bad idea. Right down to the goofy unisex hats  that may or may not be proposed for the Marines, and on up to “easy-fying” physical requirements for female special forces.  The military is NOT a typical “business” where the same rules work. It’s not a college campus.
      Bring back the WACS and the WAVES!!!

    • Libby

      Reminds me of an expose the Washington Post published back around 2000 that detailed the sexual harassment in Catholic seminary. They interviewed several men who eventually gave up their plans to be a priest because they didn’t feel safe – bullied for being straight, and being threatened with sexual assault. Guess it was OK to report on this kind of stuff when the Catholic Church was still dealing with the pedophilia scandal.

  • Charles Martel

    What is it with the LGBTQWVHSMTV6 preoccupation with genitalia and anuses and the supposedly transgressive and boundary-pushing calling, and recalling, and recalling, and recalling yet again attention to them? It’s like a continual assault by 3 year olds who’ve discovered their power to poop and pee.
    Why is that supposed advances in our sophistication and tolerance almost invariably involve a race down to the sandbox? Is there more to life than sphincters, protuberances, and slits?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “The historic shift appears to be mostly accepted and embraced throughout the ranks despite warnings the DADT repeal could harm order and good discipline.”
    Yea, and I’m sure they think ACORN doesn’t harm the good order and discipline of child prostitutes either.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “But, otherwise, I just can’t see how America’s ever going to get out of the financial and cultural holes our Progressive  brethern and sistren and whateveren are continuing to dig for us.”
    Military draft is no solution, as I mentioned before. Anyone calling for military drafting to recover virtues amongst the American population post Vietnam needed to stand up front and explain how the Left won’t just get a bunch of minions via the draft they can control. As the corruption process was well known.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The GLBT won’t be a trend that disappears, because they are locally funded. Once a parasite gets 501 or local funding status amongst the population, it cannot be made to leave.
    Funding will be used to increase fund raisers, because that’s where the parasite org gets their money and operation costs. Any familiar with military logistics understands the necessary resources required to sustain an invading occupation. This is juts the Left’s version of it.

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