Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't Ask, DO Tell!

I figured I would share a little story with you about my time in the military. I’m not going to give you too many specifics for privacy concerns and all, but I did join a branch of the military back prior to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Surprisingly, my experience living in close quarters with 30 other dudes for an extended period of time was not sexual at all.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m quite comfortable with ‘dudity’ so going away for the first time in the military and being forced to literally live on top of many other guys, including showering with them, was not so uncomfortable for me. When you’re thrust into a situation like that where there are so many pressures and demands on you during your training, the last thing you’re thinking about is something sexual when you’re showering or changing. I actually developed a strong sense of brotherhood and the whole experience felt completely masculine and natural. Guys walking around naked, showering together, laughing, singing in the shower even – it all just seemed like we were carefree kids with no sense of shame about our bodies or awareness of anything sexual. It wasn’t until after I returned home from the post that I thought back to what had happened. I didn’t know any of those guys yet we bonded like we had grown up together.

The only time I remember anything sexual coming up was in ‘sensitivity training.’ The course we had to take was similar to a corporate sexual harassment class. One of the older guys said he was once asked, ‘if you saw a buddy crying in the shower, would you hug him?’ This is where the sensitivity training took an interesting turn. In explaining his answer he said he would want to be ‘sensitive’ to his crying buddy but wouldn’t hug him out of fear of being labeled a ‘faggot.’ At this point, I was a little stunned that nobody reacted to him using that word. I was also a little dismayed at the result we came to with this discussion. Basically, they taught us that there were ways of being sensitive and caring for your fellow soldiers without doing things that could label you a ‘faggot.’ So much for sensitivity training. I think they could use some work on how they teach that course.

Aside from this, I always felt that just about everyone was really caring and sensitive to personal issues and most people went out of their way to treat everyone else with respect. I never revealed to anyone that I was bi and even though I have excellent gaydar, I didn’t sense that any of the guys I served closely with were gay or bi, with the exception of one guy who may have just been campy because he was foreign-born. If I ever get called up to active duty again (and there is a chance of that) I actually look forward to the bonding experience with other guys around my age. When you’re in a very high-pressure and stressful environment, bonding in a non-sexual way with other dudes is an extremely positive thing. I made some really close friends really quickly and it’s too bad I don’t usually get to do that in a civilian setting.

Any questions? Please ask!