Will The DADT Repeal Ensure That Servicemembers Like Steve Crowston Never Get Called ‘Fagmeister’ Again?

In February we mentioned that a Navy Inspector General found in favor of junior Navy officer Ensign Steve Crowston’s complaint that he had been subjected to homophobic harassment and unfair retaliation. Commander Liam Bruen had given Crowston the call signs, “Fagmeister” and “Romo’s Bitch” (in a reference to quarterback Tony Romo of Crowston’s favorite team the Dallas Cowboys). This week Bruen received an official letter of censure by the Inspector General with a recommendation that Bruen be “detached for cause” or in civilian terms, never promoted ever again.

The Inspector General said that Bruen and Commander Damien Christopher both “failed to perform their leadership responsibilities…because they did not immediately halt the discussion and assignment of call signs that were degrading and embarrassing to squadron personnel during the CSRB.”

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

In February, Bruen was removed from his position as operations officer on the Stennis. In late May, Bruen’s chain of command took the additional step of recommending that he be “detached for cause” for a number of violations, including failing to act on reports that squadron members had emailed offensive material on government computers and approving improper use of rental cars by command members. A detachment for cause often marks the end of an officer’s advancement.

Days later, Bruen retired.

According to Cmdr. Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, the circumstances of Bruen’s retirement are under investigation.

Letters of censure from the secretary of the Navy are extremely rare and are often career-killers for anyone on active duty. In an email, Bruen dismissed [Inspector General Ray] Mabus’ action.

“Since I am not in the Navy and was not when the letter was written, I fail to see the appropriateness or validity of (Mabus’) actions,” Bruen wrote.

Yeah, Bruen already retired… why you gotta bring up old shit? It’s interesting though that Bruen’s sudden retirement may have had less to do with his homophobic handles and more to do with his misuse of government resources.

It’s worth noting that Bruen’s censure shows a changing military culture that’s gradually becoming less tolerant to anti-gay slurs. It’s also interesting that Crowston never revealed his sexual identity through the proceedings (most likely to avoid a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discharge). But maybe a person’s sexual orientation doesn’t matter when homophobic slurs and maltreatment speak for themselves—after all, California lawyers prosecuting Bradon McInerney for his slaying of Lawrence King have basically argued that King’s gay identity should play no role in the jury’s deliberations.

Homophobia is homophobia, no matter the target’s orientation.

The other interesting issue is whether the military will put additional safeguards in place to give queer soldiers redress for anti-gay harassment at the hands of fellow troops. After all, some gay soldiers might have used DADT for the express purpose of no longer having to endure such homophobic harassment.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #damienchristopher #don'taskdon'ttell(dadt) #harassment stories and more


  • alan Balehead

    it’s just words that everybody throws around..if you are strong it can’t hurt you…guys do this to straight guys too..

  • DavyJones

    @alan Balehead: Words are powerful things, and the environment they create can lead to very tragic outcomes. When that environment is that words like this become ‘common place’ and ‘acceptable’ to be ‘thrown around’; trouble starts.

    True not everyone who throws them around is a raging homophobe, however in that environment; those that are raging homophobes are made to feel more comfortable in their feelings and slander towards gay people; when it should be the other way around…

    If you allow an environment to sprout where people are mocked for their sexual orientation; you cannot then be surprised when a couple of guy who really are homophobes get drunk and decide it’s acceptable to beat the shit out of ‘fags’.

  • Gay Veteran

    There’s really no immediate need for such safeguards because DADT training has already addressed homophobic harassment.. it’s not accepted. The military doesn’t accept any type of harassment. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m saying it shouldn’t happen because there are already policies/orders banning such behavior. And if any soldier does have a problem with homophobic harassment and there command knowingly does nothing about it.. they should call IG(Inspector General).

  • Adam

    Will the civil rights act defend service members like JALEEL from ever being called “nigger” ever again. No, the government can only go so far to stop hatred you need to grow your own set of fucking balls and stand up for yourself.

  • greenmusic23f

    @alan Balehead: When people are allowed to throw around those words, even if you stay strong, it signals to everyone around you that it okay to treat you differently.

  • alan Balehead

    don’t be such a wuss!!!

  • alan Balehead

    sticks and stones can break my bones…but words will never hurt me….deal…

  • Ruhlmann

    How long do you stay strong? How big do your balls have to be before you prove you actually have them? How many slurs or “jokes” do you put up with before you seek assistance from the people who are responsible for keeping the peace?

    I have a lot of patience, I let a lot slide and whatever happened yesterday, today is a new day. Sometimes you get help from others just so you don’t kill someone. I had a good job that I lost because I punched someone in the mouth, not for a slur for the thousands I took and let slide for four years. He threw a vibrating dildo on my desk. It took four women to pull me off of him. I was trying to jam it down his throat.

    Two years ago I was threatened by someone who had taunted me for five years. When I went to the office and said I had enough I was asked “can’t you just ignore him”? I had been doing that for five years, they saw it and heard it and did nothing. They suspended him for three days and he came to the booth and got right into my face. I doused him with lacquer thinner and chased him around the shop flicking a Bic lighter. I don’t know that I wouldn’t have set him alight had I not been restrained. I felt threatened and I was angry and I had had enough. He is a big guy and had 100 pounds on me. I had flammables and a lighter and a rage that isn’t natural to me.

    The day this happened I gave notice and one of the owners threw a sample door he had in his hand at the wall and screamed “cocks___er”. More times than not I put in 60 hours a week for this company and this is what I got. This confirmed a nagging suspicion that this went on for so long because the disrespect made it’s way down from the top. I drove up to Lake Nipigon where I was raised, visited relatives and spent a month in a canoe fishing. I came back home and started a business.

    Too often letting things slide is interpreted as weakness. Too often a forgiving personality inspires abuse. What do you do if the people who are in a position to stop it don’t? You fight, you leave or you let it go…again. I don’t know a gay or lesbian man or woman who hasn’t faced this kind of abuse at some time and in varying degrees. I am a comfortable homosexual and know the difference between being ribbed and maliciously abused for what amounts to entertainment for certain types.

    This man did the right thing. He followed procedure available to him. He kept cool and let the people able and charged with taking action do that. I have done this with only two employers and have had it blow up in my face. Usually I have given notice and spent the last week taking breaks and lunch in the truck. Maybe after having someone chip away at your dignity for a length of time going to the bosses is a way to gauge your own worth to them as an employee. I wish this shit didn’t piss me off so much.

Comments are closed.