August 7, 2012

DADT By Drew

I guess I am not your average gay guy. Few people know that I suck dick, and I like it that way. I tell my friends, who know about me, and the guys I meet from Grindr and Jack'd that I don't consider myself "gay." I see myself as a brother, a son, an uncle, and a soldier first. Sexuality to me is something that stays in the bedroom and the occasional motel room. I do not own a rainbow flag, well a rainbow anything. I don't strut around public in my underwear and the sexiest pair of underwear I own is spandex that the Army issued me. The reason I am stating all this up front is so you, the reader, can have the grain of salt while reading what I have to say about DADT.

In 2009 I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended basic training at RTC Great Lakes, IL. It was probably one of the most influential life changing events in my life. I learned a lot about myself and what it means to be a service member. Now at the time I was in big denial with myself about my sexuality, which looking back is outrageous that I could lie to myself like I did. In high school I never had to shower after gym class and the sports I played didn't really do the locker room thing like football, baseball etc. So this was the first exposure I had to showers en mass with peers. (I never lived in dorms at college) So this was an actual fear of mine before being in the situation. I was afraid of sporting some wood while in the showers with a bunch of my shipmates. Thankfully though, whether it was the salt-peter in the eggs, the physical exhaustion from training, or the fear of retribution of being a homo by my peers and subsequent dis-honorable discharge from the Navy I was able to keep flaccid. Mind you there were a few guys who to this day I wish I could spend a little one on one time with in the showers.

I was able to keep a low profile. But my RDC (recruit division commander), a drill sergeant/ instructor navy equivalent, was not so capable of hiding some of his tells. Now I can't 100% say for sure that my Petty Officer is gay, but I like to think that I am pretty good at spotting a gay guy, and when a few of my shipmates shared the same suspicions I was pretty convinced. It never became an issue with anyone in the division. We all respected him for his guidance, knowledge, and his actions as one of the best RDCs at RTC Great Lakes. He was always looking out for us and trying his best to give us the best training he could provide. There was one or two others who I had my suspicions and I am sure some of the guys had their suspicions of me too, but no one ever addressed it or tried to out someone. And no one got hurt about the gay references the RDCs would use when "motivating" us. I know I didn't give a damn; gay jokes are hilarious.

Now for erroneous circumstances and bullshit reasons, I was medically separated from the Navy. It took a little over a year and a lot of bureaucratic red tape for me to re-enlist in the Army. I wanted to serve, and no doctor was going to prevent that. So I get to Army basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in June 2011 and it is hotter than summer in hell all day everyday. Again I was able to keep soft being around sexy soldiers, and not portray any tells that might bring unwanted attention to myself. 

(That prior spring I finally faced the facts and admitted to myself to being gay, and even was able to indulge in a few acts with a few guys before graduating from college.) So being able to hide something from other people that I was no longer hiding from myself seemed like it might be difficult, and I was questioning every word choice and hand movement. I got through without any issues again, but now this time I had to go AIT (advanced individual training) for 22 weeks.

AIT was dorm style living, two soldiers to a room with a bathroom and mini fridge. It is the closest experience I had to living in a dorm. Only at AIT we had bedchecks, formations, fireguard, and CQ duty to perform. Over the course of the 22 weeks we gradually earned privileges that we had not had during basic. One of these privileges was overnight passes, which I took advantage of at every opportunity, a few times with another male soldier. Now, it should be explained that while at AIT one doesn't worry about pissing off a drill sergeant and getting "smoked" (slang term for corrective punishment, i.e. intense PT) and therefore one is able to notice the world around oneself a little better. So eventually, during the first half of AIT some people started to have some suspicions about my sexuality, which I played off. It was during my time at AIT when 20 September, the day DADT was repealed, came. Leading up to that day, everyone thought the sky was going to fall and soldiers would start walking around in skin-tight, cut-off shorts and rainbow flags being hoisted under the American flag during morning colors; honestly, it was ridiculous.
But the day came, people made side jokes, like "Hey, Smith you can come out of the closet now, everyone knows already" and to the shock of all the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) nothing changed. The sun still rose in the east and set in the west, and soldiers were still hooking-up in the barracks. Yes I was one of them, which was easier than what the straight soldiers had to go through to sneak a male into a female's room or vice versa.
One thing did change though, the attitudes of the soldiers. Before 20 September, it was unacceptable to accuse a soldier, a sailor, an airman, a marine of being a homosexual unless you had something out for him/her. No one really cared, unless they were being hit on in the showers, which I never understood would be a situation homophobes think would happen; as if it is every gay man's dream to try and pick-up a straight guy in the barracks showers. (Well maybe the "straight" soldier hitting on me in the showers is a dream of mine, but that's beside the point) One day after 20 September, I was standing in the DFAC (dining facility) trying to get some hot water for tea, when this douche of a guy had to tenacity to come up, and while pouring himself a cup of coffee, casually ask me if I was gay, as if the topic he was talking about was the weather. I was shocked; I still am dumbfounded when I think of the whole scenario. I scoffed and denied the accusation and walked off. Looking back I wish I had handled the situation differently, but hindsight is 20/20.

Now you may be saying to yourself that I am uncomfortable with my sexuality and am still in the closet, and you would be correct for the most part. But you should also understand that I have personally witnessed how an out-of-the-closet soldier is treated by his peers and superiors, and trust me when I tell you it is not an easy life. Granted this soldier was very effeminate and he did not need to be out of the closet for anyone to assume he enjoyed dropping the soap in the showers, so to say.

But being out, open, and obvious only brings unwanted attention and distracts from the wanted attention. Yeah it is great that there are LGBT supporters out there fighting for the community's equality; I am definitely not trying to offend them or the cause that they passionately fight for. I just think the community needs to be aware that it is not conducive to the military to have sexuality be an acceptable topic of conversation. As a soldier all I care about is that the guy next to me knows that I am there for him if needed and that he is there for me if needed. The fight to have DADT repealed seems unimportant in contrast to the other issues that face gay, lesbian, and even straight service members on top of worry about deployments, pay, getting shot at by Haji, and IEDs.

The UCMJ (universal code of military justice) is a set of legal principles that applies to all military personnel regardless of branch or rank. Article 125 prohibits sodomy, yes sodomy, and "penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense." So although it is permitted to be an out homosexual, we still aren't allowed to perform sexual acts unless it is vaginal and not someone else's wife, because that would be another UCMJ offense (article 134, the catch all article). A Petty Officer told me about a UCMJ class he was giving to a bunch of recruits. He explained article 125 to the class, and a female recruit asked "So you mean to tell me, Petty Officer, I can't give my boyfriend a blowjob? I like giving him blowjobs." After pulling his jaw off the floor, the PO explained to the class that as long as the acts stay behind the bedroom door and doesn't involve someone in your chain of command that no one will care about what kind of crazy, kinky sexual acts we indulge in. He continued to say that it becomes an issue when we start bringing it up in inappropriate situations. So whether you're gay or straight the military is still asking us to live in the closet when it comes to our blowjobs, anal penetration, bestiality, adultery…… sex period shouldn't be an acceptable work conversation in the military and civilian realms alike.

Written by ~Drew