Life For Some Gay Military Men Has Become Even Scarier After DADT’s Repeal

When “Steve Jones” joined the Marines, he listed his boyfriend as his next of kin to receive any pay and benefits should Jones die in the line of duty. The day after his superiors asked him why he listed a man instead of a family member as his next of kin, Jones’ entire unit knew the name, sexual orientation and beneficiary status of his boyfriend.

After that, Jones started receiving disapproving stares from fellow service members. He’d overhear them calling him him a “freaking disgusting” “faggot” and imply that they’d slit his throat and not help him if he found himself in trouble in Afghanistan.

What’s worse is that Jones’ story may be more common than even LGBT military organizations would like to admit.

It’s unreasonable to think that homophobic military culture would magically accept LGBs overnight with DADT’s repeal. But while The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Outserve (two non-military LGBT organizations that helped push for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell“) say that such incidents as Jones’ are very rare and have been efficiently handled by the chain of command, LGBT Weekly wonders whether those two organizations and the military have downplayed such incidents to make the repeal seem as positive and successful as possible.

LGBT Weekly cites the miltary’s mishandling of gay-bashing cases such as the beating death of Barry Winchell and the silence surrounding the murder of gay Navy service member August Provost and asks, “How much faith do you put in a military system that has systematically failed to find the answers in the past, with often tragic results?”

Despite the SLDN’s and Outserve’s claims, LGBT Weekly says that gay military members continue to report troubling claims of anti-gay military harassment online. They also say that the military lacks any official support network for gay partners, denying access to groups and services afforded the partners and family members of deployed non-gay service members.

Though it’s important to make sure that transgender people can serve our country honorably, it’s also important that the current LGBs now protected by the DADT repeal have access to the same protections and benefits that their straight counterparts get.

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  • ke

    Disgusting. There must be a lot of closet-cases in the marines.

  • fuzzy

    Just because they can now serve without fear of getting dismissed doesn’t mean LGBs aresa safe from harassment, any more than women are. The military is like any other place: those who are different will be ostracized.

  • EK

    @ke: I know two people in the marines, one just got in and he is a complete homophobe even though he was friends with me during high school. The other has been in for years, is catholic and is progay. Both of them are straight and the first one is married to a girl who is progay. I think mostly it’s just ignorance and stereotypes.

  • o

    “He’d overhear them calling him him a “freaking disgusting” “faggot” and imply that they’d slit his throat and not help him if he found himself in trouble in Afghanistan.”

    Good to see the military looks out for its brothers.


    Please, I’m in the Army and I’ve seen every type of bigot and racist piece of garbage in the military now a days, all thanks to old GW letting every low life in for fodder for his two wars. I’ve had to deal with white supremicists, racists of every order, ignorant trash ( of every color not just white) and the list goes on and on. Most of my unit knows I’m gay and no one really cares one way or another they just want me to do my job.

  • S.S.

    I’m a veteran of the war in Iraq, and a gay man. I was deployed for three years from 2001-2004, at which time I saw many things that, to say the least, were not to my liking. Many of us openly called the Iraqi civilians sand niggers, towel heads, and faggots. The soldiers that I believed to be gay were especially vocal about using the word faggot, to the Iraqis and other soldiers they were in disputation with. I remember one night more than the others. We were stationed in Kirkuk, and, for one of the rare times I can remember, I finally had some alcohol to drink. One of my friends was playing cards with a few other guys, one of them I knew was gay, “Steve,” and the others also seemed to know it. They mimicked Steve’s lisp throughout the game, and the one on his right placed his hand on his thigh for a quarter of a second. This soldier was a John Wayne type. One of them winked to my friend, and they roared with laughter. He got up from the game red-faced and left, the others just barely hiding their smiles.

  • Dallas David

    I figured this would happen.

    It’s gonna take a while for the heterosexuals to get used to the idea of gays working with them, just like it took a while for white folks to get used to racial integration. There will be some terrible stories of heterosexual-on-gay abuse, and the fundamentalist homophobes will say, “We told you so! Kick the queers out!”

    IMHO, the next decade or two will be particularly tough for GLB troops. My advice to them, from my own experience, is to be closeted until the guys you work with see that you’re ok, then let them know, “Oh by the way, I’m gay, too.”

    Lots of tedious work for the next umpteen years. Some troops are gonna get hurt along the way, but someone’s got to blaze the trail for the next generation.
    Best wishes to the first group of troops serving after getting rid of DADT.

  • Cam

    “”What’s worse is that Jones’ story may be more common than even LGBT military organizations would like to admit.””

    Sure, and I’ve worked in places where people actively tried to go after me because I was gay. The main difference now for the people in the military is that that behavior is now illegal just like it was where I worked.

    Is it perfect? No, but the fact that that Marine was able to put his partner as his next of kin is major.

    The fact that they asked him why he put a man should have sent him to the SLDN right off the bat to hit them with a warning.

  • SueF80

    Why would you refer to OutServe as a “non-military” organization? Founded by an active-duty officer, its 4500+ members are all actively serving military, with precisely four exceptions: because of DADT, three veterans (West Pointers) and a civilian were brought on to the initial board to handle tasks that active duty service members couldn’t do, e.g., interface with the media and the Pentagon.

    OutServe is an organization of actively serving military members, many of whom have posted positive stories about their coming-out experiences. In fact, most have been surprised at how well it’s gone in their units. Is it that way for everyone? Of course not, and incidents will occur. When they happen, they need to be addressed. But it’s worth noting that the military hasn’t blown up like many predicted.

    Thanks for covering the post-DADT military… it will be important to follow the story. And would like to see a correction of the description of OutServe as “non-military.”


  • jeff4justice

    Equal rights will not magically make things better for LGBT people!

    Equal rights are essential and should absolutely be demanded.

    However all the equality in the world will not change a predominantly anti-LGBT society quickly anymore than racial equality has made things magically better or racial minorities who still experience a disproportionate amount of adversity in America.

    Making things better for LGBT people will require building LGBT and heterosexual ally community everywhere.

    Too many mega LGBT groups limit there scope needlessly and leave behind many small town/rural/suburb areas.

    A team and I have started a group in my hometown to work to better our community both politically and socially and are looking at expanding it into a national nationwide group with regional chapters.

    If you’d like to collaborate at please find me on Facebook or email me.

  • Michael Bedwell

    Yes, SLDN could be guilty of minimizing reports of problems, but given their history of kissing Pentagon ass—including siding with them in CHOOSING to deny gay troops equal protections against harassment and discrimination post repeal, thus, GUARANTEEING more incidents would happen—I EXPECT that OutServe would.

    For instance, whether or not “SueF80” is Sue Fulton, as an OutServe spokesperson, Ms. Fulton, in addition to saying, even before repeal implementation, that “antigay bias in the military is a thing of the past,” she was quoted as saying that if repeal implementation had not happened before their October conference in Las Vegas it would have been postponed, quote: “out of RESPECT for the military and FOR THE POLICY.” Emphasis mine.

    Class, can you say, “Uncle Toms”?

  • Michael Bedwell

    PS: troops could designate anyone they wanted as a death beneficiary BEFORE repeal, and, based on over two centuries of homophobic lying, while there is no reason to give the Pentagon the benefit of the doubt now, there is also no objective evidence that August Provost was killed for any reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time—a guard house between a mentally disturbed sailor and his intent to wreak vengence on the base where he’d been told he was to be disciplined for a DUI, and faced jail for theft and drug use.

  • lucifer

    Throw a grenade in their tent while they are all sleeping.homophobes are always in every body’s business.

  • lucifer

    They might be the ones who need help saving.

  • ron

    Just give it more time. Every other country that ended discrimination against gays in the military eventually came to peace with it. And so will the US military.

  • Steve

    Laws can be changed with the stroke of a pen.

    Attitudes and prejudices take longer.

    There will be a tipping point, when the bigots realize that the are in the minority, and that the majority no longer tolerates bigotry. A commanding officer can help that happen, but not by issuing orders. The orders have already been issued. They can help by having a frank talk with the sergeants. As long as open bigotry is tolerated, it will affect unit cohesion and readiness. It will cease, as soon as the sergeants stop tolerating it.

  • JR

    being a Navy Brat and growing up in Norfolk, Va, I was around military personnel most of my life until my early 20’s. I worked in a local gay bar back then and I have to say, of all the branches of the military that I dated, the Marines had the most “bottoms”. And believe it or not, the Navy had the most “tops”. SO that old cliche’ about Navy guys is , in my humble opinion and experience, a lie.

  • jonjon1968

    This sounds to me like a breach of security. There is no way for other soldiers to know his beneficiary unless the staff handling his paperwork violated confidentiality agreements. That information is personal and private. They should launch a full investigation and the guilty be brought up on charges. Also, I wonder why DADT never punished the ones who violated the Don’t Ask part of the law. If THEY had faced discharge, I think we would have a lot more LGB servicemembers still serving. They should have been as afraid to ask as the LGBs were afraid to tell.

  • Hue-Man

    It’s important to repeat this story to bring everyone back to reality. The military is the ultimate power structure and with power comes the ability to inflict hardship. The hardship doesn’t have to be criminal – always being assigned to work weekends, holidays, or night shifts, plum assignments given to straights in preference to gays, unfair performance evaluations, etc. The military does have an obligation, however, to make an example of those prosecutions which do reach the level of criminality in order to start changing attitudes. The personal indignities may go unpunished but gays and lesbians should not have to fear for their personal safety at their workplace.

  • Eric Bachman

    You know. I am gay and before you join the military you need to RESEARCH. Why would you join the Marines? You know Marines are mostly violent people and trained to be killing animals. A better choice would be the Navy, Airforce, or even Army is better than the marines for gays. LOL

  • Lorenza

    Giving 1 in 3 military service women have either been raped or sexually abused by military service men in the US, it then stands to reason gay people wouldn’t be safe either. American culture breeds this type of man.

  • matt

    As someone else said, lgb is still not protected under the EO (equal opportunity) policies the military has in place. So unfortunately incidents like that will continue to occur until that policy is changed. I’ve been serving for 2 years and am currently under a very homophobic command. Unfortunately there’s not much my chain of command can do because its not covered under EO policy. I’d like to see the policy changed but that will take time. So for now we all have to “grin and bear it”.

    @suef80 Its a “non-military” organization because its not directly endorsed by any DOD organization. It’s not a put-down, its just an easier way of saying not affiliated with.

  • jason

    This situation in the military demonstrates what I’ve been saying for a long time: just because we’ve got legal equality, it doesn’t mean we’ve got social equality.

    At the social level, there is still an enormous amount of homophobia, particularly towards male homosexuality. There is this particularly nasty form of homophobia that is directed towards not just male homosexuals but also the concept of male homosexuality. On the latter, this means that any notion of male homosexuality – no matter how small or insignificant – is frowned upon.

    Who’s responsible for this? Men and women, liberals and conservatives. They are all responsible. They see male-male sexuality as a threat to their institutions. Most men, despite recognizing that there is an element of male-male attraction within them, deny it. They would sooner jump over a cliff than admit that they sometimes find men attractive.

    Women see male-male sexuality as a threat too, especially if it’s present within a male who is also sexual with women. In such a paradigm, a woman needs to compete with a man for the affections of another man. Women find this impossible because they are competing with someone who is stronger, has a higher sex drive, and is more promiscuous than them. At least when a woman is competing with a woman for the affections of a man, it’s a level playing field.

    Thus, we, as men, are facing an extremely difficult and precarious situation when it comes to fighting homophobia towards us at the social level. This social homophobia is damn well integrated into the institutions of the mainstream. It is damn well integrated into the heterosexual relations between men and women – the man must deny any same-sex attraction in order to be seen as a non-threat to a woman.

  • Lance Magic

    People are taught to think and act this way. Interestingly enough, this kind of thing is based in fear and the group-dynamic feeds that fear so that no one wants to step out of line… because if you do, you’re fucked.

    I cannot and will not respect any institution , organization or leadership that supports this kind of thing to any degree.

    I guess part of their fear is being outed for what goes on behind closed doors. It’s a weird culture and rule #1 is that you don’t tell anyone anything or else.

    Dysfunction and poor mental-health seem to be the social moray and way of our time for centuries now.

    This will change soon… change is coming like a bitch-in-heat.

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