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But no solution can do more than paper over an uncomfortable reality of life in the trenches: that the male bonding so prized by military commanders—the willingness to die for one’s buddies—can engender another kind of closeness as well.Many GIs recognize homosexual leanings for the first time in the all-male surroundings.
By imagining themselves objects of homosexual lust, they unwittingly place themselves in the feminine role—which may explain the vehemence of their objections.
At the academy, Burke notes, male cadets often gussied up for the shows with undisguised zeal.
Freud said men are engaged in a constant struggle against what he called their “feminine or passive” side.
For young armed-forces recruits who are still uncertain of their footing in the male world, the gruff camaraderie of barracks life may provide a reassuringly masculine setting. Keep up with this story and more That human truth, never publicly acknowledged by the top brass, may be one reason the Pentagon so bitterly resisted President Clinton’s campaign promise to drop the ban on gays in the military.
It would just make me sick.” —Sergeant Stan Ronell, Fort Ord, California SIGMUND FREUD OBSERVED HALF A century ago that men seldom live comfortably with their manhood; they are stuck with constantly having to prove it.
“It is not surprising that they would seek out...pleasures they might not even have dared think of [back home].”There is, in fact, an undercurrent of homoerotic tension in the shared latrines, shower rooms and sleeping quarters of barracks life.
GIs get used to the loss of privacy soon enough, but not perhaps, to the enforced physical intimacy.
The photo ops were presumably arranged, if not to say staged, with the full cooperation of Navy public relations. The traditional spanking—or “paddling”—punishment for infractions was not so much in evidence anymore.
But cadets might get a scarlet letter, or rather a in shoe polish, branded on their behinds for dating women at the school.
In the accommodating embrace of the city’s teeming red-light district, gay and straight GIs pursued separate but equal satisfactions, and crossover experimentation was not unknown.
“They were young, lonely, and sometimes desperately horny,” writes Zeeland, a civilian employee of the Army in Frankfurt for eight years and himself gay.
There is a more ingenuous transsexual tradition, almost as old as the military itself, of drag shows put on by GIs for the entertainment of GIs.