I have shared this before but I am returning to it now. The caption at the top of the photo above reads: ‘The soldiers wrestle together, sing together, dance together. Die for one another. Love one another’. It might have been a line out of ‘Dont’ Die On Me, Buddy’, Simpson’s discussion of homoerotics and masochism in the War Movie. Male Impersonators will be out as an e-book soon so you can read it in full. But here’s the extract one more time:
‘Buddy war films are gospels of masculine love that is ‘betrayed by a kiss’. They are tales set in far-off lands in times past, about a band of boys who leave their families behind and create their own (homosocial) community. They live by love but one of them, the ‘queerest’, must die to save the others and the world from the practice of it, and also to demonstrate the proper way it should be sublimated: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man may lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). Like Moreland in Taps and Chris in Stand By Me, ‘Father’ sacrifices himself trying to save the life of others, selflessly accepting his castration: ‘Promise me you won’t tell him’.
Death in these films is a sacrement: it makes love between men eternal by removing it from the male body; by cancelling forever the threat of its consummation it ensures that boyish love is immortal, and that queer love, transformed into a cadaver, is buried on the battlefield’:
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
-Lawrence Binyon, Poems For The Fallen