The love that dare not speak its name in the army

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I have never been able to fully grasp the hatred and terror that certain whites display towards human beings of other skin colors.

Nor have I ever really fathomed the brutishness of so many males towards women.

And I am always appalled by the hysteria of deranged straights on the matter of homosexuality.

Sure, I understand—I hope—the economic and social roots of these maladies. The cause lies in the history. Still and all, unreasoning bias continues to astound me, perhaps because nothing in my experience leads any credence to the garbage spewed by bigots.

Most of my best friends, for example, are gay. In 70 crowded years of meeting people, I’ve never encountered a group with such a high degree of creativity, talent, intelligence, wit, literacy, social sensitivity, compassion, good humor, and capacity for commitment. And all of this together spells leadership.

The differently sexualized are less wedded to the sick popular culture and more attuned to reality. They tend to be respecters of persons and easy collaborators. They warrant your trust, and I trust my life to my lesbian and gay cohorts—at home, at hostile meetings, in dangerous demonstrations and on picket line eruptions.

I would totally trust my life to them in the army.

And I would run like hell from the queer-bashers and forked-tongued demagogues that this society spawns. That is why I think nothing less than sweeping revolution is demanded—or how else can we carve out the new cultural environment and psycho-sexual services capable of rehabilitating the Rambo-ite, fundamentalist pathologicals?

But meanwhile there is much to be learned from the tempest over gays in the armed forces. The uproar reveals three aspects of the sexual minorities issue that have nothing to do with prejudice and everything to do with establishment politics, military depravity, and the pivotal place of the traditional monogamous family in the machinery of capitalism.

1. Will open gays endanger “national security”? Let’s hope so.
The generals argue that their bailiwicks were never designed to be conductors of social change. Indeed not.

The military juggernaut exists to protect the “American way of life”—which depends on bitter feuding among workers. What’s good for General Motors is very, very bad for non-males, non-whites, non-Christians, non-citizens and other non-is isms—classism, sexism, racism, ageism, heterosexism. And the business of the armed services is defending big business.

Proletarian solidarity is verboten. It is dangerous to officers and orders. And now that Blacks and women are entrenched in the ranks, somebody has to remain excluded or inferior or segregated.

What’s more, expanded rights tend to make the execrated more uppity. Will lesbians and gays rest content with the magnanimous cessation of witch hunts? Will they emerge from battleship brigs and closets quietly? Or will they protest against unjust and unneeded wars? Or maybe demand the right to elect their own officers, á la Trotsky’s Red Army after the 1917 Russian Revolution? And what will happen when these newly empowered vets come marching home?

The lavender menace that terrifies skittish politicos is a beautifully clear and present danger to the fraying fabric of Amerikkka.

2. It’s the military that’s sick and perverted.
Gay people aren’t the ones with a deviant, illegitimate, immoral lifestyle. The military establishment is the body with the disease, and its name is sexual fascism.

Army culture cements a male bonding based on shared misogyny and race-hate. Basic training relies on humiliating the raw recruit by calling him a pussy or girlie. Platoon spirit is buoyed by chanting jingoistic jingles about the racial/physical traits of the enemy.

Servicemen are indoctrinated to scorn open gays who won’t endorse their view of women as hunks of meat, rape objects, and practice toys for sadism. Straight male GI’s are terrified that gay men will treat them the way themselves treat women. Out lesbians are despised because they refuse to be part of the victim reservoir.

Yes, sexual marauding is intrinsic to the military, part and parcel of its climate of imperialist violence.

But if the institution is so evil, why should gays strive to be in it? Because it is their simple right not to be discriminated against. And because some of those gals and guys are equalitarians who want to be in the trenches besides their workingclass sisters and brothers in order to better challenge the Pentagon, not promote it.

More pollution exists—in the stance of the warmongers. And gays are the uncontaminated troops destined to clean out the stables.

3. Lesbians and gays are oppressed because they threaten the forced maintenance of the fissioning nuclear family
It goes like this: The system extracts super-profits from the unpaid or vastly underpaid labor of women. And the patriarchal, male-headed family is the conduit from this rip-off.

A vast superstructure keeps fracturing families mortared together, despite widespread misery and repression in the home. Alternative ways of living are a Bad Influence, especially as practiced by lesbians—so bachelordom is chic, but old maidhood is always pathetic, and lesbians are kicked out of the services six to ten times as often as gay men. Yet the number of lesbians is growing, partly because hetero relations today are unappetizing. The arrogance and boorishness of typical male egos eventually repel self-respecting women.

Both genders have every right to claim a sexual mode that is less dangerous and irritating and more sensually fulfilling, more democratic and more supportive of integrity and activism, more respectful of motherhood and childhood, and more feminist.

Face it, globo-cops: the values of the Victorian hearth are falling into the ashbin of history. Alternative mores are filling the vacuum. Cultural pluralism on the family front is truly, delightfully subversive!

A new day is dawning. Homosexual rights are big-media covers stories. Gays are scaling unaccustomed heights of power. The polymorphously perverse are packing up in droves for the giant April 25 March on Washington. They gay community, with a renewed life-energy propelled by AIDS and the spectre of death, is politicized and afire. The battle against the troglodytes is joined.

But this expanded confidence needs all the radical vision and audacity it can muster, because our new Prez is as treacherous on civil rights as he is on the economy, stupid*, and austerity and dashed hopes will be the sole rewards for his misguided supporters.

The message for labor and all civil rights and civil liberties movements: Insist on gay rights now. Forge a united front against the tyranny of the homophobes. Protest compromises and stalls and the “practical-politics” betrayals of the so-called liberals. And ask not for whom the presidential sellout is being prepared, for the answer is you.

Don’t you see? Sexual liberation will never be tolerated by a market, dog eat dog, cannibalistic economy. Free love can flourish only in a caste-free and thereby a hate-free community of equal and autonomous humans, who will bypass the nature/nurture niggling and serenely proclaim their affectional choices free of any pressure to vindicate their delicate, personal decisions to anybody.

The only antidote to sexual fascism is socialist democracy. The only road to gay freedom is a universal, across-the-board, non-exploitive family of earthlings. Gay Pride shall ring out when the human race as a whole becomes proud of itself.


*A much publicized sign in Clinton campaign headquarters read, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

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