What was it that they were telling us about how dangerous it would be to let gay men and women serve in the military and not conceal their sexual orientation? That it would disrupt the order and discipline in the ranks and make people uncomfortable about possibly taking a shower with some guy who might be checking them out? Well, it turns out that it’s no big deal in Britain, where they’ve allowed out soldiers to serve for the last seven years. From the New York Times:
The officer, a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, felt he had no choice. So he stood up in front of his squad of 30 to 40 people.
“I said, ‘Right, I’ve got something to tell you,’ ” he said. “ ‘I believe that for us to be able to work closely together and have faith in each other, we have to be honest and open and frank. And it has to be a two-way process, and it starts with me baring my soul. You may have heard some rumors, and yes, I have a long-term partner who is a he, not a she.’ ”
Far from causing problems, he said, he found that coming out to his troops actually increased the unit’s strength and cohesion. He had felt uneasy keeping the secret “that their boss was a poof,” as he put it, from people he worked with so closely.
Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue.
The Ministry of Defense does not compile figures on how many gay men and lesbians are openly serving, and it says that the number of people who have come out publicly in the past seven years is still relatively low. But it is clearly proud of how smoothly homosexuals have been integrated and is trying to make life easier for them.
“What we’re hoping to do is to, over a period of time, reinforce the message that people who are gay, lesbian and the like are welcomed in the armed forces and we don’t discriminate against them in any way,” a Defense Ministry official said in an interview, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with the ministry’s practice.
It just goes to show you that the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” here in the United States doesn’t work and that in enlightened countries the idea of gay soldiers doesn’t call for pearl-clutching, smelling salts, and the fainting couch. It’s also been my opinion that the guys who worry the most about getting hit on in the shower or barracks by another guy are toads and not in their wildest dreams would any self-respecting queer hit on them. Yuck. Unless, of course, the worriers have their own issues. Again, yuck.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.