Love Web Extra
a bisexual male in the U.S. Army Reserves who was deployed
to Iraq about a year ago. I never came out or told anyone
that I’m a sometimes cocksucker. I did, however, talk quite
freely about my experiences at swingers parties with my ex-girlfriend.
Over the course of the deployment, two other male soldiers
discreetly approached me looking for some action. I can only
assume they felt comfortable coming out to me because I’d
demonstrated such a blasé attitude about sex in general.
So this kind of stuff happens. And my advice to ILYA is: In
casual conversation with Basra, make it known that you don’t
see why homosexuality in the army is such a big deal. Be cool
and don’t press the point; just state your beliefs. Basra’s
response should give you clues on how to proceed. It might
even be the opening he’s been looking for to come out to you.
If he at least agrees with you, you can probably come out
to him without risking an ass kicking. And if he turns out
to be a rabid homophobe, you can euthanize your dreams and
There, Done Soldiers
I’m 23, straight, and signed on for the navy about four months
ago. I assume you had much of the same paperwork that I did.
If I recall correctly, I signed like five different papers
saying that if I participated in homosexual activity I can
be thrown out on my ass. Now I may not agree with the rules,
but they are there. I guess you have a judgment call to make.
Even if you’re willing to deal with the possibility of getting
the crap beat out of you, you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re
willing to give up your job for your crush, too.
I am a straight former soldier who would like to remind him
just how ignorant, homophobic, and violent soldiers actually
are by relating my own story.
Fifteen years ago, while stationed in Germany with the army
infantry, I made an anti-gay joke to a fellow soldier. It
involved me using an effeminate voice and concluded with the
line: “You wanna get your dick sucked?” Well, one of the ignorant
hotheads in our company was approaching at that moment and
heard only the last six words without any context. He must
have concluded that I was gay and was hitting on our colleague.
Several days later this guy and a couple of his buddies jumped
me outside a bar, calling me a faggot. They beat me down and
slammed my head into a parked car. I spent a day and a half
in a German hospital with a broken wrist, concussion, black
eye that was swollen shut, and a whole new sympathy for the
hatred directed at the gay community. My attackers received
the proverbial slap on the wrist from our commanders.
This episode taught me three important lessons:
1. Don’t tell anti-gay jokes. They’re not funny and can have
totally unforeseen consequences.
2. Homophobia is everybody’s problem, because if someone is
stupid and ignorant enough to be a homophobe, his gaydar probably
3. Never let your soldier colleagues even THINK that you’re
gay! Your crush may not beat you down, but there’s an excellent
chance that someone else will.
I’ve done combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I’m working
on my fourth year of service in the army. My advice to ILYA?
Drop it. Finish your tour. It can’t be more than four years
total, and if you’re really gay, you’d be happier leaving
the service in the end. If you think Basra is The One, then
contact him once you’ve left active duty and there’s no professional
or personal danger.
Aside from the obvious advice against dating someone in the
same unit, I would advise ILYA to just leave Basra alone,
keep his feelings to himself, and not reenlist if he wants
to be out of the closet. Until there is a more enlightened
set of regulations regarding homosexuality (and I wish there
were), homosexuals are going to have to remain “closeted”
if they want to continue serving. Sorry, that’s just the way
it is in the service.
ILYA, you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into
when you promised to defend our nation and obey lawful orders
and regulations. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is widely
known, yet you chose to join up. I don’t want to sound mean
or insensitive, but suck it up and drive on to your ETS date.
Once you get out of the army, feel free to find a nice guy.
I am gay and have successfully served for three years, primarily
because I don’t date guys in the army, and because I keep
my personal life far removed from my professional life. It’s
lonely, it’s not fair, but it’s one of the many sacrifices
that come with service. If he’s so reckless that he is willing
to hit on his roommate, of all people, he’s almost certainly
going to be discovered sooner or later.
In any workplace, relationships lead to drama, but in the
army it’s even harder to keep an affair a secret. Whether
his roommate does something dumb and accidentally exposes
both of them, whether another gay service member gets jealous
and exposes them, or someone just finds it fishy that neither
ever date but they spend an awful lot of time in their room
together with the door locked, word is going to get around.
I’m sure you’ll get a handful of letters from soldiers who
tell you that they’re out and no one in their unit cares,
but these are like the 90-year-old smokers who tell you that
tobacco is harmless. The bottom line is that he’s taking a
risk. There is no sure-fire way to protect himself physically
or professionally, and if he isn’t prepared to face the likelihood
of everyone finding out, he shouldn’t try to dip his pen in
the company ink.
If he thinks that a likely reaction from this roommate would
be to beat the shit out of him, this roommate might not be
quality boyfriend material even if he is gay. But that’s another
Fraternization between two service members working in the
same unit is frowned upon because it’s unwise. This doesn’t
discriminate between homosexuals and heterosexuals—just look
back on all your general military training and you know all
the answers: It threatens unit cohesion. What happens
when things go sour between two lovers in the same work center/platoon?
Most likely, you both carry around some resentment and are
no longer able to work or train together effectively. Now
take that into a survival situation—while I doubt most people
would be cretinous enough to disregard your life, you have
just spent an entire work-up cycle not firing on all
cylinders. Yes, it sounds a little schmaltzy, but think about
your unit and its mission. You are obligated to the unit’s
best interests for the safety of you and those you work with.
Yes, I know that in practice straights in the same unit sometimes
have romantic/sexual relationships (so do gays—or so I’ve
heard), but it does go against the order and usually ends
up more trouble than it’s worth.
Regarding the whole “dropping hints to the best friend he’s
attracted to who also happens to be a male” thing, I’ve got
this to say: no, and again, no. There’s a time and place to
out oneself, and the desert during a friggin’ war is so not
either of them. I’m speaking as a pretty balanced bisexual
male in the military, who’s danced along the edge of ambiguity
without more than speculation against me for six years. It’s
challenging enough to get your needs met on a noncombat base
if you’re bi or gay. Trying to do so in a war zone is honestly
tantamount to suicide. ILYA needs to keep his cock in his
pants, and his sexuality in his mind, until he’s at a place
where the phrase “taking a shot in the face” is a pleasant
euphemism and not a literal threat. At least if he masturbates,
he can claim to have been thinking of a girl.
I was in the Marine Corps for five years—well almost five.
I got kicked out after giving head to a guy who freaked out
a good bit into it. Still, my advice to ILYA is to get drunk
with this guy and if it happens, it happens. I had some really,
really good experiences with guys in the Marines and they
were all good friends. That one guy I blew, though, was not
a friend and I got careless. Let the beer do the talking.
Just you two together, some beer and good music never hurts.
Remember, if you go slow a friend isn’t gonna freak. Yeah,
you might get kicked out but, dude, my discharge never once
affected my life and you won’t have an arm blown off.
Good luck from an ex-marine who served with a “few” good men.
I am a soldier currently deployed to Iraq. I’m straight and
neither homophobic nor homophilic. My advice to ILYA is to
knock it off. Stop sending signals subtle or otherwise, and
stop looking for signals that may not be there.
I don’t think he or his battle buddy would be in any danger,
but if the rumor gets around that one or both of them is gay,
it could ruin their chances at an army career if that is what
either of them wants. And it could damage unit cohesion. If
Basra is not gay, ILYA’s come-ons could damage their friendship
and the working relationship they have. A war zone is no place
for that kind of pressure
Deployments are a year long and I know that seems like an
eternity when you’re young, but it will end. Once off deployment
and at their home station ILYA can then ask Basra if he is
Love the column by the way.
I spent five repressed years in the army and only once did
I breach the boundaries of good taste and common sense. As
a result, I was discovered by my immediate supervisor (a beautiful
Mexican man who I had also been lusting after). I convinced
him that what he saw was innocent, he believed me, it blew
ILYA might do well to engage in an indirect “what if” scenario
style conversation with his object of affection. At some point
when they have some modicum of privacy he should aver that
he does not have any problem whatsoever with gays. He will
know by his friend’s response whether to proceed with any
course that might lead them to the “under what circumstance
would you suck a cock?” conversation. The best-case scenario
is that Basra will suggest a weekend pass in a neutral zone.
The worst-case scenario is that he will ask him, “What’s up
with you and all this fag shit?”
I’m not in the U.S. Army, but I was in the Canadian Navy for
more than 10 years—and if that doesn’t establish my credentials
on the left side of the military debate, I don’t know what
will. Hell, we were accepting gays long before Clinton betrayed
both left and right with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debacle.
But when I read the letter by In Love Yet Afraid, my gut feeling
was an immediate no, no, no. Don’t even think about it. Stay
away. Take 10 deep breaths and a cold shower. It’s not just
the threat of physical violence, or even the complete unpredictability
of Basra’s reaction (which could be negative even if he is
gay, and wants to stay closeted). First of all, even if Basra
were to enthusiastically welcome ILYA’s initiative, how long
would it be before the romance collapsed and life became hell
for them both? It’s like any office romance—no, worse, because
they live and work so closely. People who work that closely
shouldn’t be dating, especially in a homophobic environment
like the U.S. Army.
Even if that didn’t happen, and everything went perfectly,
how long would it be before someone else in their unit figured
it out? Young men aren’t long on restraint. Then they’d both
be in deep, deep shit. Official and unofficial.
But while those are compelling, real-world reasons, they’re
not the main reason ILYA should rein himself in. The main
reason can be summed up a single word: professionalism. Being
in the military isn’t about being a boy with toys. It’s a
profession, and those who choose it should act the part. That
goes for the dicks who persecute gays in the military, too,
by the way.
Them, But Never of Them
As a former army soldier (albeit female) and war vet—romance
under any “field” conditions regardless of the leanings is
a bad idea. Your writer, ILYA, needs to first and foremost
focus on his mission at hand. His distraction, as you aptly
pointed out, could mean some injury or worse yet, death. I’m
not suggesting that he cannot pursue a deeper friendship with
Basra. In fact, that’s probably his best course of action.
Once he’s finished overseas and back in garrison, he’s in
a better place to perhaps share his secret with Basra.
After a longer time of getting to know Basra, he’ll also have
a better idea if he can trust him enough to do just that.
He should also trust his gut instinct of not trusting Baghdad.
My time in the service most definitely taught me to trust
my gut instinct.
So take your time, ILYA. Learn more about Basra. It sounds
cliché, but if the two of you are meant to be together, you
will be. But it will be when you’re finished in the war zone.
Be safe. Come home safe, too.
Vet In Detroit