Do Ask, Do Tell

“Homoerotic horseplay,” and more surprising confessions from a sexy new military memoir

Life in the military as a gay soldier under DADT wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, writes gay veteran Rob Smith in his new memoir Confessions of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Soldier: How a Black, Gay Man Survived the Infantry, Coming Out, and the War in Iraq.

From witnessing homoerotic horseplay among the troops to visiting his first gay club, and coming out to his best friend and fellow soldier in Iraq, we’ve rounded up a few juicy tidbits from the first chapter of the Queerty contributor’s memoir, Welcome to the Jungle.

The U.S. Army is both homophobic…

The drill sergeant’s eyes twinkled and a smile spread widely across his lips. Suddenly, I was afraid, and I felt a wave of fear unleash within me. I knew what was coming, which was possibly the worst thing that could come out right now. This had followed me since the sixth grade in Ohio, and it appears that it just hopped the flight down to the South.

“What are you, a faggot?” He said.

It was less of a question and more of a pronouncement, made loud enough so that everyone in the staging area could hear it. “This motherfucker was eyeballin’ me because he’s a fucking, faggot! Yeah, that’s what you are, right?”

“No, Drill Sergeant!” His head whipped back around toward me. The other recruits and the officers staged in front of us were barely pretending not to pay attention any longer. This was quickly becoming quite the scene.

“What the fuck did you say?”
“No, Drill Sergeant, I’m not a faggot, Drill Sergeant!” I yelled.

…AND homoerotic

I found myself in the restroom next to another recruit. He was the very definition of a southern white boy, with a freshly buzzed head just like the rest of us. He had a slight scar on his upper lip that I assumed was from shaving before he got the hang of it, destined to be an eternal reminder of his less than seamless transition into adolescence. With nobody else in the restrooms, we stepped up to the partition-free urinals together, and as he took his dick out. I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander down and to my left very quickly, before looking back up.

It was a move I’d perfected years before, when I found myself more and more curious about what the other guys had to offer in that area. I was pee-shy, so I figured I’d let him go before I would, but then I felt his presence beside me increase. When I looked to my left he was looking directly at me with an intensity that seemed to be coming from him in waves. I looked down at his now-erect penis that was poking out from a small bush of blond pubic hair, another thing I had never seen before. He stroked it intently, his fingers gliding ever so lightly around the head, which unlike mine was completely free of any skin around the area. The silence between the two of us was punctured only by his sharp inhales of pleasure. I looked back up at him, and the scarred corner of his lip turned up in a devilish half-smile.

In the barracks, the horseplay can get a little gay

In the first few weeks my platoon mates seemed to be doing everything possible to entice me out of the closet. Indeed, some of the downtime in between PT, training, and meals was filled with enough homoerotic behavior to make a gay porn star blush. Late one weekend afternoon when there was no training and most of the drill sergeants weren’t around, I laid lazily on my bed reading over some mail that had come from home. When I glanced over at Rogers, he was fidgeting around with his footlocker restlessly. He was bored, as usual.

He’d managed to catch the attention of myself, Gramps, and Gordon, another jovial character that bunked just down from us. We looked curiously at him as he pulled out a small tube of hand lotion from his footlocker, and tiptoed over to Hernandez’s bunk and released a small amount of it onto Hernandez’s right cheek. Hernandez continued in his slumber, not realizing that right above him Rogers had removed his PT shorts and was trying to get a rise out of his flaccid, fat brown penis right above the area where he’d sprayed the lotion. I wondered where this was going, and leaned in eagerly to find out…

For more on coming out, life in the Army, and what it’s really like to deploy to Iraq, check out Rob Smith’s memoir Confessions of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Soldier: How a Black, Gay Man Survived the Infantry, Coming Out, and the War in Iraq, on sale at Amazon and select LGBT bookstores now.

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17 Comments

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    Well, this can only help in the current political climate. Well done, Rob.

    • Rob Smith

      Thx. It’s important to get these stories out there since this administration would just love to silence us all and throw us back in the closet!

    • Rob Smith

      I anxiously await your next book…or even your first!

    • JaredMacBride

      The writing is far from terrible. It’s pretty damn good, in fact. The writer is smart enough to tell his story in a simple and direct way without trying to use every polysyllabic word in the dictionary. That’s called communication, and the excerpts communicate just fine.

  • Juanjo

    Well you can tell the guys who never served in the military. This type of homophobic/homoerotic crap went on all the time when I was doing my time under Uncle Sam’s tender loving care. It was a way to show dominance or something in a very male environment – like a frat house on steroids. The straight boys were the worst followed by the deep closet cases trying to show they were just one of the guys. The good thing was that being at sea on a 6 month deployment led to a lot of down time where properly arranged amusing things could happen in the more isolated storage compartments.

    • Xzamilloh

      Oh, yeah…. being in Iraq for 15 months back in 06-08, those straight guys would get super homoerotic… we also had Blackwater there with Colombian soldiers contracted under them. It was both Heaven and Hell for a gay guy… you know, when our bases weren’t getting mortared and RPG’ed.

  • Xzamilloh

    The front pic was confusing… because the guy in the story’s name is Rob Smith, but the picture on the front page is that of porn star Tyler Smith (probably not his real name). So the gears started grinding, obviously

    • Rob Smith

      That front photo is very much me, and I don’t look anything like that porn star you mention. Flattering to be compared to a porn star, yes, but I don’t look like him. At all.

    • kurt_t

      Yes, I googled “Tyler Smith, porn star.”

      And I’d do it again.

    • Xzamilloh

      Oh, wow… well, there’s a Tyler Smith that looks like you. If you meet him, get a DNA test before you do anything lmao!!!

    • Xzamilloh

      And yeah, in that photo, you do look like him. Take it up with Google… and my subjective opinion

      #SorryBoutIt

    • Bob LaBlah

      Guys, here is an unsung black hero who lost his life in defense of his country but his story has been largely ignored. Queerty’s new look won’t allow me to find it on here but Queerty did run this story. I just can’t find it but somewhere its on here. I found it on The New Yorker. His name was Major Alan Rogers. He was black, an ordained minister, gay and had a significant other in his life. He was killed in action.

      Rob, I am not trying to diminish you story but this guy was amazing because he “fought” on many fronts. Its worth a read.

      https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/08/04/a-soldiers-legacy

    • Xzamilloh

      Damn, that was a good read, Bob. That’s the kind of story that has no real winners or losers, because you have a man that was as out and proud as possible during the venomous height of DADT, and people on both sides trying to tell his story in death that they feel respects his wishes or in the case of some, advances a political narrative that treats his sexuality like a crutch or an all encompassing character trait (not my opinion, just the tone of the article). It’s sad that I was reading this hoping he had somehow not been killed. My company commander on my last deployment died similarly, as he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and was our only casualty. But, it’s sad seeing Alan Rogers die a hero and his death be whittled down to his sexual orientation, as if simply mentioning he was gay would take away from his decorated career and impact on the lives of his friends and colleagues. Andrew Sullivan, however, I have my own feelings about… but that’s for another time

    • Bob LaBlah

      Thank you. And by the way, I think he looks more like Jason Zhu than Tyler………….anyway, thanks for the compliment.

  • Kangol

    I’m glad he’s telling this story, his story, especially now. A beautiful man too!

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