Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

Attitude, the UK magazine by, for and about gay men, seems to have jumped the shark. Once this magazine had some good points, not least the brilliant columns by [redacted] in the 90s, which later featured in his books It’s A Queer World and Sex Terror. But now it is a glossy gay ‘lifestyle’ magazine from hell, and is all about pop stars, reality TV stars, and the best place to go on holiday this year.

This month’s 18th birthday edition sports a gay soldier on the cover, James Wharton, with his civilian partner. The text at the side reads:

‘Have you heard about the Iraq veteran who can fight for his country but can’t get married?’

I don’t really know where to begin! It simultaneously presents a patriotic awe of soldiers ‘who can fight for [their] country’, and also seems to completely undermine what they do, by suggesting the biggest problem in their lives is whether or not they can tie the knot.  Across the pond in America, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy has only recently been abandoned. And gay and bisexual and lesbian soldiers are celebrating their newfound freedoms. But ‘gay rights’ movements are always quick to identify the next struggle, the next source of oppression. When (and I am sure it is when and not if) same sex marriage is legalised, I am sure Attitude will come up with another image of inequality to put on their cover.

But it really is becoming a joke. And if I was a soldier, gay, straight, bisexual, whatever, who had just been ‘fighting for my country’, maybe seeing my friends die, I don’t think I’d find it very funny.

This photo has gone viral recently. It was first posted on a ‘Gay Marines’ FB page and has since been sent round the internet, with the tagline ‘Gay Marine Comes Home’.

You know me. I am an out and proud ‘homophile’. I am bordering on being a homo myself.  My blog archives are full of pictures of men in clinches, from the sacred to the profane. But when I saw this image I was caught short. I will admit it to you, Roland. I felt a bit queasy. And I think you will understand why.

The photograph is a graphic illustration of the end of DADT, the edict that kept gay, lesbian AND BISEXUAL army personnel from being open about their sexuality. In some ways, the military was, until very recently, the last bastion of ‘pre-gay’ times. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been the unspoken motto of men who have sex with men for eons. And now it is over.

But it is not just the repression of homosexuality that is over here. I fear some other things may be on their way out too. What about all those soldiers ‘acting gay’ on video? Will they be doing that so much, when their gay colleagues are on site? Or, a story you know intimately, those plucky GIS who went gay for pay a few years back. Would that happen when being gay in the army is normalised?

I know that you and your ‘accomplice’ in homo-anthropology Steven Zeeland, have had a range of feelings about the ‘coming home’ of gayness in the military. In Male Impersonators and Barrack Buddies, you both seemed to be opposed to DADT, even though you were nostalgic for a time when homosexuality was even more hidden than it was in the army in the 1990s. You of all people are aware of the complexities and contradictions here. And you, of all people, would be unlikely to begrudge a passionate embrace between a marine and his lover, especially if it is caught on camera.

But something is well and truly lost isn’t it?

Perhaps our only consolation is that in coming home, the gay identity is also quickening its own demise. You have predicted we are nearing the end of gay. Judging by the defensive reactions mainly gay men give to me when I even dare to critique their precious identity position, I am inclined to think you are right.

A Gay Marine Comes Home. We know it’s over, Roland.

It’s over.

P.s. I am going to be honest with you, one of the things that made me feel a bit ‘queasy’ was the gender dynamics of the photo. The marine, supposedly one of those macho masculine types, has a garland round his neck and is being lifted off the floor by his big strong civilian boyfriend (who he termes ‘the giant’ on his facebook page). But I am an old-fashioned girl.

Remember the LMFAO ‘Sexy and I Know It?’ hit of 2011? I have seen a few amateur videos of metrosexy young lads re-enacting it. So it was only a matter of time before the armed forces got in on the act. Why should they miss out on all the fun?

Actually this rather bitter Guardian article explains that soldiers should not be allowed to take part in Metrosexy culture with us civvies but I disagree strongly:

And so do these metrotastic navy cadets:

However I don’t think any of the videos I have seen quite reach the Metrosexy heights of the original so here it is one more time:


h/t @lawrencejgreen for the original LMFAO video