On the John: Keeping our soldiers happy and gay

On the John

Keeping our soldiers happy and gay

Originally completed October 13, 2010

flags4The column I am about to write feels so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to claim it as original work. Chris Rock first joked about the absurdity of the military denying open gays back in 1996. Hell, Bill Hicks made jokes about it, and he’s been dead for sixteen years.

I suppose, though, that it’s not all that obvious. If it were, there would be no Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell compromise, and no need for Judge Virginia Phillips to ban it.

What a world, eh? It is astounding that, in the midst of two official wars, one secret war, and who knows how many “operations” elsewhere, so many members of the U.S. military still do not want to fight alongside gays. This stance is so baffling and counter-intuitive for so many reasons that I am almost too geeked to even put it on paper.

But here goes.

First of all, let’s remind ourselves the effects of gays serving in the military: the military gets bigger. That’s it. More soldiers to hold more guns, fly more planes, drop more bombs, destroy more shit, and absorb more enemy fire.

The Log Cabin Republicans, the group responsible for the lawsuit that ended with yesterday’s ruling, quotes the number of enlisted men and women who have been booted from the military in the 17 years of D.A.D.T. at 13,500. Is it possible that enough straight service men and women could bail on the military out of gay repulsion as to negate the gay numbers surge? I can’t imagine that being the case.

But, okay, let’s say those who oppose the repeal of D.A.D.T. do so because they believe that the number of AWOL straights plus those refusing to enlist will outnumber the gay surge. If that’s the case, we’re screwed anyhow and should stop fightin’ wars altogether, because The Enemy now has an unquestionable advantage.

Just think: our boys are over there, fightin’ the fight, and suddenly an American squad is ambushed and captured! The first captive is brought into Room 101 or wherever, and, his hands bound and eyes blindfolded, he is forced into a chair. “Do whatever you wish!” he shouts defiantly. “Semper Fi, you dirty son of a bitch!”

This American fightin’ man is mistakenly expecting traditional torture, like waterboarding or electrocuted testicles or sleep deprivation or something.

Instead, the door opens, and in saunters Raul the Gay Interrogator, the man who always gets the information…

That’s kind of absurd, sure, but if being around gays is that terrible, why the hell not?

In fact, if being around gays is such a natural deterrent to unwanted behavior, why not use it to punish domestic crime? Imagine getting busted for dealing cocaine, and the judge says, “I hearby sentence you to three years of necking with your neighbor Gary.”

But maybe the military’s concern is not so much their straight service men and women getting the ickies, but rather that a gay person’s unquenchable thirst for forbidden same-sex sex will distract them from their responsibility as soldiers. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

…except in that scenario, the gay soldier in question is at war, with bullets and bombs and the like whizzing about. I dunno. I think my mind would be somewhere other than my fellow soldier’s junk.

But fine: let’s say that for some bizarre reason, your new gay squad-mate spends more time watching your ass than watching your ass. You can always reprimand him for being a bad soldier. Or hell! Just kill him with your guns. Probably wouldn’t be too tough to blame on enemy fire, the way I used to blame the dog for my farts.

I mean, if you can’t concentrate on the WAR because the guy next to you is attracted to the gender of which you happen to be a member, you’re probably not a very good soldier anyway.

It’s not as if allowing gays in the military means that straights in the military must now have sexual contact with the gays. But even if that was the case, so what? Could 13.5 thousand soldiers keep other American soldiers alive? Of course! Isn’t winning the war, protecting Freedom, and staying alive worth a night in the hole with G.I. Gary?

Again, this is extreme absurdity for the purpose of makin’ points, but let’s say every straight soldier was forced to, now and again, hold hands on the battlefield with one gay soldier just to make him feel welcome, and in exchange, the straight soldier was guaranteed that the gay numbers bump would win the war. Do you think our brave military men would bite the bullet, so to speak?

And what if it wasn’t just hand-holding, but kissing? Are you saying you would rather die in a foreign land AND contribute to the United States of America losing a war rather than kiss a man? And fine, fine: what if you had to receive oral stimulation from your fellow soldiers as the price for allowing them to defend your hide? Is that not worth a glorious military victory?

Or what if you were captured in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Ladin himself strolled into your holding cave, told the guards to “Leave us!” and then told you that he would abandon the cause and fold up shop if you, the brave American soldier, would spend a night in his bed. (I know… absurd. But we’re already in a world that assumes gay soldiers on the battlefield are itching to suck off their straight, homophobic, fellow American soldiers, so just roll with me.)

Hey, Straighty, question’s on the table: Would you sleep with Osama bin Ladin in exchange for the end of the war in Afghanistan? You don’t have to like it. That’s why they call it sacrifice.

And before you answer, just imagine the hero’s welcome you’d receive upon your return home! Who wouldn’t laud the brave, butch, gay-squeamish soldier who took one for the team? Just once I want to hear an American troop tell friends upon his return home: “You know, those fruits made me uncomfortable, but I’m a soldier, damnit, and I make sacrifices for my country.”

Damn straight. If the purpose of fightin’ a war is to win it, then take whatever help you can get.

(Of course, if the purpose of fightin’ a war is to indulge the macho instinct while rallying your people against a mysterious “enemy” in order to subvert their own displeasure against the ruling class, then, fine, no gays in the military.)

This is all silly, of course. Gays aren’t trying to join the military to canoodle. They’re joining the military to kill with extreme prejudice. Chris Rock said: “If they want to fight, let ‘em fight. Cause I ain’t fighting!” Bill Hicks said: “Anyone dumb enough to want to be in the military should be allowed in.” I’ll put it this way: If we’re really in it to win it, then for fuck sake, let the gays fight! If you find that insulting, blow me.

Copyright 2010, jm silverstein

More from Jack M Silverstein on gay rights…

February 26, 2004: Civil unions? That’s so gay!

April 22, 2009: How to live with gay people


4 Replies to “On the John: Keeping our soldiers happy and gay”

  1. But you see… it’s not about gays. The controversy is about the Republicans fomenting anger, creating an imaginary ‘culture war’ to win elections. Like the Southern Strategy, it’s about creating an imaginary evil that conservatives agree on, then tearing that evil down.
    From your article, just switch ‘gays’ in for ‘enemy’ and ‘winning an election’ in for “fightin’ a war”:
    (Of course, if the purpose of fightin’ a war is to indulge the macho instinct while rallying your people against a mysterious “enemy” in order to subvert their own displeasure against the ruling class, then, fine, no gays in the military.)

  2. Agreed. It’s not really about gays. But that’s the company line, so that’s what I wrote about.

    I like the gay/enemy election/war switch you suggest. That’s fucking great, and it makes me feel smarter. So kudos to you!

    Also, it’s funny that you say it’s about the “Republicans fomenting anger,” since it was the Log Cabin Republicans responsible for the lawsuit against DADT. Just another reminder of why the two party system is bollocks.

  3. Just one small point: I’m not sure it’s really warranted to call what we’re doing in Pakistan the “secret war”. It’s arguably not a war, though if it’s not it’s damn close to being one. But more importantly, it’s not really secret anymore—our drone attacks and all that are pretty regularly reported on in the mass media. It may have been hidden a year or two ago, and the government is generally reticent to discuss it, but it’s all pretty fucking out in the open now. Exhibit A:

    Exhibit B:

  4. Yes, good point. “Secret” war may no longer be the best term. But it certainly warrants some kind of distinction from U.S. v. Afghanistan and U.S. v. Iraq. When most Americans talk about the wars we are fighting, they say “The Iraq War” and “The War in Afghanistan.” Whatever we’re doing in Pakistan, it doesn’t have a name yet.

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