In order for gay West Point students to keep their careers in tact, they have to do more than earn top marks. They have to learn how to act straight.
That was one course requirement Katherine Miller refused to accept; she quit this month. But for others in the New York academy’s “gay underground,” it’s a requirement, relays the Times in a lengthy report.
But just because gay cadets risk being expunged if they’re outed doesn’t mean it’s an entirely sterile environment.
An encounter during military maneuvers might result in flirtatious Facebook messaging back in the barracks. Those who earn weekend passes might make late-night runs to gay bars in Manhattan, about 50 miles away, or to gay parties on nearby college campuses, often with students they met through intercollegiate sports.
The two lesbian cadets described all this at 9 o’clock one night last week at Jefferson Library, amid dozens of classmates dressed in immaculately pressed gray uniforms, sitting up straight and studying textbooks. Both said they had been openly gay in high school but found gay socializing nearly impossible during the strict first year at West Point, then began to confide in a tight group of loyal friends as liberties increased. “Anyone you meet here,” the senior female cadet said, “you have to assess their personality very closely, and see if you can trust them.”
For dudes too.
The male cadet in his fourth year said he had had sexual relationships with several other men at the academy. Last year, he fell for a guy at a gay bar in Manhattan who, to the surprise of both of them, turned out to be a classmate.
Back on campus, they enjoyed and suffered through a seven-month relationship on the “down low,” he said. They might share a meal at Grant Hall, but if they passed each other in company, they would simply nod hello or offer a casual back-slap. They did not attend the year-end formal dance together.
Now what does it say in the West Point Cadet Honor code? That you will not “lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do”? I do love a policy that forces everyone to break it.