Question for guys who have been gay in the military

  • Sparkycat

    Posts: 1064

    May 25, 2009 10:51 PM GMT
    I would like to know from guys who have been gay in the military if anyone knew you were gay - just regular soldiers not the brass who could get you kicked out. If you hid your sexuality, to what lengths did you go to do that? Were you afraid someone would find out and rat you out? In general, what was the experience like?

    Also, how do you honestly feel it would affect the military if don't ask/don't tell were repealed so lesbigays could serve openly? Thanks.
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    May 26, 2009 2:46 AM GMT
    Hmmm...somewhat appropriate for the day, eh? icon_smile.gif

    Honestly speaking, I didn't identify with being gay when I was in the military, although I did explore my sexuality with both men and women (officers and enlisted). So, to answer your first question, I wasn't so much hiding as I was exploring. In that respect, yeah, I worried about being caught when I fooled around with guys, but the exploratory urge overwhelmed the worry when I was in that situation. Heck, the forbidden nature of the exploration made it all the more exciting, albeit in a borderline, panic-provoking way.

    The 'in general' is a bit too broad, particularly given that I spent six years in the military, but the above should give you the gist. Now, regarding the don't ask/don't tell policy, well, there are many gay men and women already serving meritoriously in the armed forces and they should be allowed to serve openly if they so choose. I say this fully realizing that the military is pervaded by many traditionalistic viewpoints that are at odds with the smooth inclusion of this same group. That said, the military operates on a chain of command system that is very capable of both inspiring and controlling actions (for good and bad) and if the higher ups in the military preached inclusion with the same vigor they presently preach exclusion (in the realm of sexuality, among others) this would pretty much be a non-issue, save for the occasional narrow-minded provocation.
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    May 26, 2009 2:49 AM GMT
    Just a note to Randyman-Thank you for what you have done for us in the service....icon_biggrin.gif
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    May 26, 2009 3:24 AM GMT
    I was coming out while in the military and most of my sexual experiences were with other military guys who had a little to drink and were curious.
    Eventually many of the guys that I worked and lived with knew about me and I never had one bad experience because of it.
    I was a firefighter so I was in close quarters with the other guys at the fire station and living in the dorm. It never seemed to be an issue at all.

    I did start to get nervous that the more people that knew, the bigger chance that someone would find out that did not like it and would turn me in.
    That helped in my decision not to re-enlist.

    I believe that if they remove the ban that things would change for the better. People in the military are protected from harassment, so I think that people would have to accept it whether they like it or not.

    Banning gays from the military sends a message that it is still ok to treat gays differently and it tells young people who are questioning their sexuality, that there is something wrong with them.
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    May 26, 2009 4:07 AM GMT
    The topic only came up a few times. I was open, forward and accepted by enlisted and officers. Not one bad thing was said about me to my face, nor did it circulated back second hand.
    I didn't have any experiences with other military men. I was still somewhat "shy" and getting used to being myself.

    I think we are in a point where sexuality isn't as big of an issue as it once was. Ones sexuality has no impact on how well the job is done, bottom line. In my experience, I would say the majority would be happy serving with a man or woman who could do their job effectively and matter what their sexual orientation may be.

    Happy Memorial Day.
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    May 26, 2009 4:09 AM GMT
    silverfox1 saidi haven't been in the military but wanted to show off my tags icon_biggrin.gif

    You haven't earned those buddyicon_confused.gif
  • fitartistsf

    Posts: 717

    May 26, 2009 5:18 AM GMT
    I was 10 years in the US Navy, '82 to '92. By '82, I knew I was gay, and for 10 years did nothing to call attention to myself. I was soooo far down into the closet, I was in the basement. This was before DADT, and I wanted NOTHING to taint my eventual Honorable Discharge. I knew at 20, when I enlisted, that I would need that untainted discharge someday on my employment record. I even did something so heinous and distasteful, that it bothers me to this day: I gay-bashed or hazed guys, even women, that I and others even suspected of being gay, just to hide myself. For this I am forever sorry to my gay brothers and sisters.
    To this day, I suffer from lack of social skills in a gay-only environment, and have no Gaydar. We can be standing in the middle of the Castro District in San Francisco, and unless you show me or tell me, I would presume that you are straight. Unless of course, the guy is what would be seen as an obvious "stereotypical" gay man....
    I do remember wanting to find a guy, had opportunities, but my fear of discovery was too great.
    Now, at 47, my gay social skills, and my Gaydar are still trying to catch up...
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    May 26, 2009 6:55 AM GMT
    soviet army here circa 1988, zero chance of even coming out to myself, rest asured to anyone else. that is why i am still alive.
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    Jun 18, 2009 10:30 AM GMT
    I believe that due to recent events, post Do Not Tell! opened a big can of worms. Why should your sexuality have any bearing on how you do you job. Pres. Clinton's intention were great, however I believe it was mis guided. . . that the media has far more responsibility to educate the public, not just inform. Gay men and women in the military have come a long way, in the US. However in many european countries it is widely accepted to serve while openly gay. I believe we could learn a great deal more from foreign countries in this reguard.

  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9191

    Jun 18, 2009 11:24 AM GMT
    I actually joined before DADT. During that time, I hadn't fully accepted my own sexuality and figured it was just a phase. I'll never forget that moment in my head when I was initialling on the recruiter's form where it asked if I was gay or not.
    When Clinton became President and fought to repeal barred homosexual service, I was rather excited at the prospects. At that time, I was at my first duty station and very excited to meet people in my unit from several different walks of life. Imagine my surprise when before I got to my unit and was at the end of Advanced Individual Training, that I asked one of my classmates what he was doing after he returned (he was Reserves) and he said "Fuck around and get laid." I asked again thinking he was joking, and his buddy turned around and said, "Literally, fuck around and get laid." The guy was a male prostitute. icon_eek.gif

    Anyways, I felt progress had been made with DADT, but it didn't stop witch hunts and harrassments. I was never suspected, but we always knew about the reports. Besides, my first unit was a medical unit and medical personnel are the biggest freaks in the ranks. True that! There were at least a dozen bisexuals and homosexuals, even married to women, who had some story to them...

    But I felt that DADT was a piece of shit legislation when PFC Barry Winchell was murdered in the barracks because of his sexuality. And it was by his "buddy". WTF!? Around that time, the Army began Consideration of Others training (not related) and one of the topics we had to talk about was DADT. I couldn't stand hearing all this homophobic garbage and this was a small group discussion. I felt like the only one defending PFC Winchell, as his murder was discussed. I had also recently accepted my homosexuality at this time.

    In the late 1990s, I began playing rugby and befriended a married couple that I consider my best friends to this day. He is an officer and is still active duty and I came out to them way back in 2001. It also helps that his wife is an outspoken homo-lovin' liberal. For crying out loud, she idolized Greg Louganis when she was growing up!!

    Then in 2004, I was assigned to Korea where I made friends with a peer so quickly that we hung out and went to the juicy bars together. After 3 weeks of my not trying to get laid, he flat out asked me if I was gay, and he prepped the question by saying that it's okay with him if that is the case. So I came out to him and he respected that and kept it hush. I think his wife knew later on (he wasn't married at the time we met). I told him that I was considering resigning from the army if the Constitution would be amended to where gay marriage would be banned on the grounds that I cannot fully support a constitution that doesn't fully support me.

    And so, here we are, with 3 years to go and feeling not so optimistic of DADT's repeal. icon_cry.gif But if it were repealed, I would be ecstatic about it, but very nervous when it came time for the mandatory training that goes with it. Too many homophobic comments get slung around without reprocussion and I can imagine it far worse in all male units and Special Ops Neo-Con land. The problem with the morale point of view on DADT is not because of open homosexual service, it's because of homophobic soldiers who refuse to believe that their masculinity is okay already. The brass is trying to protect them, who are otherwise stellar soldiers, from doing regrettable things. The wisest way of transitioning DADT is have a one year transition period in which gays are to remain closeted and begin the training and identifying those with problems with homosexuals and deal with them individually. Then after that one year, lift the ban and integrate with additional training. It's safest for us all if the transition is phased as such.
  • Menergy_1

    Posts: 748

    Jun 18, 2009 1:29 PM GMT
    Thanks, coolarmydude and others, for the enlightening posts and thoughtful suggestions.

    Decades before DADT and back when I was active duty USAF and closeted bi (then later married - to a woman - after Officer Training School and my schooling in Denver) the dynamics were black and white -- there was no "tolerance" if you will, at all. So one stayed under the radar or faced serious consequences, the final one being discharge from the service.

    True that the medical field had some young enlisted kids who I found out in Denver were enjoying each other's pleasures (hell at the time I was having an affairette with a hot man myself on the side when "off duty" -- although the military owns you 24/7 technically). But generally by that time we (the officers in my school for 9 months) had top secret security clearances which added another level of risk of exposure and shame and court martial, etc.back in the days of the Cold War and fear of blackmail for personal indiscretions. Still, although I never saw or suspected any gay activity in my ranks and went on to foreign service with butch pilots, married men mostly, and all the other guys of all ranks -- in those times it was all extremely kept well under the covers (pun intended) -- not "if" it was going on, it was just so well hidden.

    Well, we all had strong suspicions of women in the service, and don't even start on the female training officers for physical training/drill instructors for the women! Talk about the butchest dykes you could ever meet -- multiply a high school girls gym coach x 100! Their taunts and shouts on the drill pad at the servicewomen recruits would curl your hair (except we had to keep our hair too short for that!)

    Only once did I face a painful situation in this regard of outing a gay person:

    a young kid in the barracks had been reported for saying something joking in a small group of his "buddies" in the rooms, hinting that there was an easy way to fix everyone's being so horny if they'd just shut the door.....One of the guys took offense, I guess, and reported this to higher ups/the MPs, whomever. The kid was pulled off the line, his clearance suspended, he was put in jail pending the investigation's outcome, and was facing discharge of course for a simple joking commnet. I feel he may have been a young gay kid but really not "out" at all. The bad part was I was also the Security Officer for the squadron at the time, in addition to my other (classified) duties - and had to be involved and watch this horrible thing play out to a point. I attempted to insert reason into this situation, to calm things down and point out the lack of seriousness of a silly comment (hey, the straights always joke about releasing tension by fucking girls, and that's OK, right?) Or the officers who went off on deployments for a couple of weeks in Europe -- what goes on at the forward base stays at the forward base, right? Those married pilots were messing around with teachers and nurses while their wives and kids were back at home base. But that's OK....I was specifically directed by my commander to leave all tales behind on what I saw or did when I accompanied my squadron and wing on training deployments. Such was the honorable straight life!

    Long story shorter: the kid was moved off to another base for detention and prosecution, out of my jurisdiction, and probably was discharged eventuallyfor a trifle...

    I don't know because I myself turned in my papers shortly after this to end my active duty service --- although I did stay in the Reserves and retired with over 23 years service, never acting on my gay urges while on duty. I went into inactive Reserves to wait for retirement age before DADT -- so I don't know how it was after 1993.

    I'm told the situation can be very open and supportive nowadays, as you guys have related, with officers, friends, coworkers knowing fully about you and not betraying you but including you. That's how it should be!

    I surely see no reason to continue to exclude valuable and honorable and meritorious men and women from our armed forces -- although the phasing in period and training will be the best way to introduce the new era in the US.
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    Jun 18, 2009 1:37 PM GMT
    I knew I was, ny first duty station was in San Fran, so you can imagine how that went. My close friends knew that I had relationships with other men, but never said anything.

    On another note, where I have been stationed there are a few guys and girls that are shall we say open without being open. I mean it is obvious, and now adays for the most part people dont seem to care as long as they keep it to themselves (you know, don't go looking for a peak)

    Just my experiance.
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    Jun 18, 2009 1:43 PM GMT
    I was a reservist for 8 years with a year deployment to Iraq during the war in 03. With that said, I had this thought in mind. While in uniform I am a soldier for the US army. Out of uniform, I was Bryan. I am gay so when I was out of uniform I had relationships with guys. I did let a girl in my unit know I was gay during deployment, as you could guess, everyone found out. No one did anything and I drilled out my enlistment another 3-4 years or so.

    I've learned that its only an issue if someone in a unit makes it an issue. Thats just what I've seen anyway.

    To all the Army guys out there: HOOAH!
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    Jun 18, 2009 1:47 PM GMT
    Sparkycat saidI would like to know from guys who have been gay in the military if anyone knew you were gay - just regular soldiers not the brass who could get you kicked out.

    I wasn't out while in the military, so a moot point for me personally. But I was the "brass" and frankly most of us found the hounding of gay soldiers to be distasteful, and we avoided it when we could. (I retired after 25 years in 1994)

    One of my best friends, a fellow Major at the time, was clearly a lesbian, never married in her mid-30s and living with an obvious dyke. She later became a Lieutenant Colonel. None of us had a problem with her, because she was an excellent officer, and what she did off-duty didn't concern us.

    When I was a Lt. Colonel myself, one of the sergeants in my office was very obviously gay. One time I got an invitation to a house party, everyone else there being his fellow sergeants except for me, your classic big, hard-core Drill Sergeant types.

    But his civilian "roommate" was more flaming than Jack in W&G. I was kinda surprised he let all of us see that, but nobody had an issue with it. In fact, I later pulled strings to get him an early promotion, because he simply was an outstanding soldier.

    The way the military works, once an issue like homosexuality is out there, your hands become tied by strict regulations, and you gotta respond by the book. Thank gawd I never had to do that myself.

    But in my experience, most of us just looked the other way. Sure there were a few homophobic jerks, mainly young enlisted soldiers, but not as many as you might imagine, even way back then.
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    Jun 18, 2009 2:57 PM GMT