So, had a conversation a while back with a kid that was thinking about enlisting, everybody else always asks how bad basic is and things like that, this kid was worried that they let in gay people now and was worried that it could get weird because he might have to shower or sleep in the same barracks with a gay person. So, what could I possibly say to allay his fears? I have a something of a go to answer for these situations:
If you’ve been in a high school PE class and/or played sports, you’ve been in the showers at the same time as a gay person was. Personally I’ve been in enough locker rooms and gang showers in my life, including my military life that I’ve probably been wet and soapy around enough gay men to make a marching band for a pride parade and have only been harassed in the shower once, and that was by a coconut crab. That big Popeye-clawed bastard chased me all though the showers as I went from nozzle to nozzle to scrub up and rinse off before he caught up with me, fortunately I can scrub on the run faster than it could chase. No, I didn’t think to ask if it was a male or female crab, I was pretty firmly fixated on the size of that friggin’ claw though. Was I ever checked out in the shower, no idea, but I doubt it and if I was, wasn’t seeing me in the shower punishment enough?
Truth be told, there’s always been gay people in service, first they served knowing they had to keep everything on the down-low, then they served knowing that even if they kept things on the down-low that DADT was often treated as a hunting license, then Afghanistan and Iraq happened and somebody damned near had to have sex on their commander’s desk to get kicked out, and then finally common sense broke out and they got rid of DADT and now gays can serve openly.
I actually retired before DADT was repealed, and I’ve been asked if I ever served with a gay or lesbian and I can actually only give one answer to that. I never had anyone identify themselves as such after they’d been apprised of their Article 31 rights, so anything I would have to say on that matter would be speculation (and as such inadmissible,) as I wasn’t allowed to ask and they weren’t supposed to tell.
As to whether anyone should enlist and risk being exposed to gay people, like you aren’t already in civilian life, if you think that meeting a gay person is scarier that the possibility that the job you’re thinking of signing up for could get you shot up, killed, maimed, disfigured or similarly jacked up in a multitude of ways that only the Murphy of the battlefield can dream up, then I think your priorities are probably a wee bit skewed.
Your mileage may vary.
© 2015, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.