Homosexuality in the British military
The militaries of the world has had a variety of responses to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Most Western military forces have now removed policies excluding sexual minority members; of the 26 countries that participate militarily in NATO, more than 20 permit open lesbians, gays, or bisexuals to serve; of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, two (Both France and Russia) do so. The United States technically permits gays and lesbians to serve, but only in secrecy and celibacy.
But we're British - thank god. This sort of thing might be tolerated by the French, and good for them, but the stiff upper lip is no party for such heinous sexual acts. However, this is indeed the 21st century. Where all else may fall and fail in the face of rising adversity and new, resurfacing problems, there is always the modern British army for you to count on. Homosexuality in the British military is one of many things that make up this new modern army. A long with more guns, tanks, planes and boats, but homosexuality is the topic of today.
Toleration of these men (and women even) is a primary aspect for any fighting man in this time and age. In fact, these days we go to war against men who do not share our simple values and beliefs in freedom, especially the freedom of the homosexuals. Would it be British to agree with the unnatural enemy? No, it certainly would not. And I would gladly cross-dress in the base of command in the presence of my superiors, as well as the battlefield itself, amongst my own men, just to prove a point to the other side and give them a ruddy punch on the nose that a bullet can not.
Even when LGBT rights have only very recently extended to the recruitment drive of the military, there is already much history behind this formerly-dodgy subject... Not 'dodgy', sorry, just 'subject'. Ahem.
- 1 History
- 2 Reasons for permitting homosexuals in the British military
- 3 Homosexual figures in the military
- 4 Toleration in the military
- 5 Homosexuality in foreign militaries
- 6 Homosexual roles in the military
- 7 Future
- 8 Notes
Homosexuality is the stuff of British culture. Why indeed, if a man cannot prove his salt with regular visits to rugby matches, huge swigs of bitter, a sampling of fish and chips at least once a week, or any other pastimes that define this country, he may well be a nefarious homosexual.
But oh no! Does this mean all is over for this poor chap? To be restricted in his wayward glances in the pub, only in the direction of the fellow man? To be utterly distrusted from taking part in the rugby scrum for fear of unnatural buggery? Can he not even serve his own country like any good British chap? No, probably not. But perhaps tradition may sit well with homosexuality in more than one cornerstone of British history. Art, politics, sport and even the military service has been party to persons of the LGBT persuasion. This is one clear way that we in the modern British army can understand homosexuality. And it's needs. Whatever they may be.
Homosexuality has had strong ties in the history of Britain. For example, Alan Turing, the man accredited with creating the Turing test (probably a future necessity with the rise of robotic warfare) was a homosexual. Coincidently, I was once charged with conducting this test on an A.I. that was produced in 1983 when I was a mere Lt Major. I subverted the test by asking the A.I. if it were homosexual, and it responded affirmatively. I concluded that artificial intelligence had a long time to go until it could replicate humanity.
Anyway, British icons in the past golden eras have been masterminded the realm to the top of it's class, in every class, thanks to the deliberation of homosexual men. Lesbians are still useless, but the men have done the country a lot of good. William Shakespeare was probably a bit dodgy, and I don't actually like him, but he is solely responsible for overturning the English language from a profanisaurus of infernal vulgarities into a form of orally-sourced love. I need never to mention Oscar Wilde, who was as bigamous a homosexual as he was a talentless, tiresome, wanton and utterly irritant writer. Freddie Mercury was gay too, did you know? I didn't.
Let it not go untold that homosexuality has still suffered persecution in the history of Britain. That Alan Turing I talked about up there committed suicide because the pressure he was put under, and Oscar Wilde nearly died of exhaustion in that film with Stephen Fry in it. Appraising gay people and their rights has become a staple in today's society, and anyone who doesn't want to conform with this must at least have some appreciation of their existence. However, whatever we may say today about homosexuality, about its fineness and considerable contribution to interior design, not to mention interesting new fabrics and boundary-stretching décor genres, they will still speak of the time when even the establishment were foolish enough to induct entire laws against the crime of "sodomy".
But learning from our mistakes is another key edifice of British culture. Should a British man in Blackpool find his pint spilt by a rowdy twentysomething busying himself in the latent euphoria in cider and crisps, does he ask the degenerate to kindly step outside for a fight? No, he bears his upper lip and plans the appropriate measures to avoid such pint-spilling misdemeanours in future. When Field Marshall Haig had exhausted the last few hundred thousand of his men upon the German machine guns at the Somme, did he give up? No he certainly did not. Haig simply directed the highly inaccurate artillery fire in the small space between the German trenches and the advancing line of his own men, producing a pre-chemicals smokescreen. Thus artillery barrage was born. The tactic worked very well, and I must say I'm impressed by the limited casualties - only a few thousand British troops were lain waste to the German guns or blown to bits by their own allied howitzers.
And learning that homosexuality is perfectly fine is something everyone in Britain has since learned from the days of inherent homophobia. History is what we associate with values that are long gone in brand new societies, and homophobia is just what we associate with history. To be viewed as modern by the British people, a person would have to accept this without hesitation. We as a generation in the early 21st century must let it be heard that men who wish to partake in gay sex are perfectly and absolutely free to do so. And the army is deigned to be in the forefront of this important political message... So long as they don't mess with anything, it took me years to put my own division together.
Reasons for permitting homosexuals in the British military
There are many, many reasons why the army heads have decided to allow fit, young homosexuals in the army. The army has had its reputation steadily decline ever since the Falklands war and we are simply not getting enough recruits. So we're willing to resort to minority appeasement tactics to amend this. Bear in mind that if you aren't fit or young, then you'll be laughed out of the corps. Same if you're homosexual too actually, but I've been told to keep the rampant homophobia in the recruiting office under wraps.
Truth be told, some people may think it's quite surprising that we've made this decision. There have been appraisals in the media and public alike, but there have still been the rustic critics too. Much of the right-wing media has cited the decision as an appalling victory for anti-British ideals. Even my own dear friend Col. Oates handed in his papers after he heard this new ruling, I believe his reason for leaving the force was something along the lines of "I've toiled all my bloody life to keep my men free of namby-pamby influence and I'm not about to see them spoilt by heretic buggery", but I may just be paraphrasing him.
Anyway, there was a list forwarded at the meeting that ended up voting in favour to this new recruitment policy. Here it is:
- We need to have equal opportunities in the forces
- The army needs a new image
- Their undeniably cheerful nature will uplift morale in gloomy atmospheres
- The headquarters needs a spring clean
- And better interior decor
- The army definitely needs a new image
When the sixth point was put forward, the decision was unanimous. Before that I can't say that many of the officers in attendance cared much for the policy. But nevertheless, I've spoken to several officers recently about it and they were very warming to it. One or two reservations between them, but they were immediately very receptive. One reservation was that there would be a departure of heterosexual troops who would disagree with fighting alongside a homosexual. In fact, it was suggested by Major Cunningham that there would be quite the exodus. But we consoled our fears; there must be many warlike homosexuals out there who'll come in to replace them, certainly. Hm.
Homosexual figures in the military
It may surprise you to learn that homosexuality had long infiltrated the very crux of the British military. Indeed, from the top to the bottom of the ranks have there been well known practising homosexuals in the armed forces. But they didn't let this interfere with their shooting practice, and neither should you.
Reading the following brief biographies may lead you to question whether these are private lives that shouldn't be meddled in. But the tolerance of homosexuality in the British army has led us to scour the troublesome rumours that surrounded these people... But only to tell them that it would be absolutely fine in the modern British army, were they alive today. Yes, that's it. Modern.
King Richard I, the Lionheart
Richard the Lionheart, conquerer of Cyprus and occupier of Sicily, is considered by some astute and reputation-aware historians to have had a sexually ambiguous lifestyle. To put it bluntly, he enjoyed the adrenaline from more than just fighting with his fellow man. Bear in mind that if you do the same thing during your inevitable military service, you'll be kicked out. Of the service cricket club, that is. There are still some latent homophobic troops there. No space for them in the modern army, no. We're sorting it out and they'll be discharged from the armed forces shortly. After thirty more years of service.
The King barely spent any time in old England. He spent most of his reign fighting for God in the region of the Levant. He lived in the 1100s, so this was far too early for the Turkish sex trade. No, he may have been attracted to the men on offer in the middle east, but historians can only agree that his similar-sex relationships ranged from probably any common pikeman on the field to Philippe II of France. Even in peace did an English King conquer a King of France.
However, having anally-stimulating sexual relations with your rival king or enemy faction leader is certainly not the way to win a war in this day and age. You can take a lesson from Richard, whether you're gay or not. Only if you are a spy should you effect such tactics on the field, this way a spy can extract important details through the enemy king's heart. And infect him with AIDS. Whoops. I am sorry, the modern army realises that not all homosexuals have AIDS, and we would like to apologise for that total misinformation.
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshall Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC, a man so important he was given a sackload of acronyms just to prove it, is a fantastic example for the depressed soldier who starts at the bottom cleaning the latrines, peeling the potatoes and forced over the top before anyone else. He commandeered battles from all over the world, single-handedly called the country to arms, went down bravely amongst his comrades in battle, left behind mystery surrounding his end, he has places, doughnuts and an entire army named after him and has up-toward of 10 memorials built in his honour.
A great shame then, that he was probably a total bender. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it's just a slightly disturbing titbit of information for a grown man to find out about his childhood hero, of whom he obsessed over day after day before he finally joined up... I still get called names in the officer's mess as a result.
Anyway. Lord Kitchener was known to have a very close companion that almost never left his side, a Captain Oswald Fitzgerald, an officer whose role I had been inherently envious of all my life until very, very recently: the captain may well have been Kitchener's partner in bed. He was at least his aide-de-camp - when I mentioned that very term to a homosexual relation in my extended family, he laughed in my face. From his time in Egypt in 1892, Lord Kitchener gathered around him a cadre of eager young and unmarried officers nicknamed "Kitchener's band of boys." He also avoided interviews with women, took a great deal of interest in the Boy Scout movement, and decorated his rose garden with four pairs of sculptured bronze boys. Again this is equally distressing for a man who joined and relished in the cubs when he was still too little for the corps.
According to Hyam, "there is no evidence that (Kitchener) ever loved a woman". Around the time his exploits started to become a regular tool of filler for national broadsheets, a journalist noted that Kitchener "has the failing acquired by most of the Egyptian officers, a taste for buggery". Hyam also noted that "when the great field marshal stayed in aristocratic houses, the well informed young would ask servants to sleep across their bedroom threshold to impede his entrance", implying he had a high sex drive. Blimey, this gets more and more distressing by the minute.
Exalted writer J. B. Priestley noted in his book on The Edwardians that one of Lord Kitchener's personal interests in life included planning and decorating his residences. He was also known to collect delicate china with a passion. It was heavily inferred amongst his superiors that he had an "artistic temperament", which was the most sensible way to mention another man's excessive display of homosexuality. Both then and now. I mean, only back then when attitudes towards homosexuality were so sensitive. A golden era, indeed. Now I can't swing the cat of reality without hitting a crowd of pansy liberals in the street. All of which can be admitted in the army should they wish to do so anytime.
T. E. Lawrence
Another officer from WWI, Lt Col. Lawrence was better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Whilst some historians attest he was merely asexual, there is evidence that posits that there are as many allusions of homosexuality spread around him as there were grains of sand.
He faced off the Ottoman Empire when he supported the Hashemite Arabs against the Turkish oppressors, for the British control of the middle-east of course. Anyway, very unfortunately for a homosexual during this period, he was captured by the enemy where he himself admitted (two years later) that he was beaten ruthlessly and even sexually abused by his captors. To what extent he was touched historians are deeply unsure, but even 1917 was too early for the Turkish sex trade.
From this experience he seems to reveal... masochistic desires. He genuinely described the whole torrid ordeal as “a delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me”. Bear in mind that you shouldn't allow your enemies to feel this way when they are captured and behind bars, we don't want them to enjoy their torture. Not that there is any torture in the modern British army. Torture has long been phased out now. Now we interrogate with total style and consideration for the masochistic enemy.
Speaking of which, any homosexual CAN join the British army, so long as they are not masochistic. I've heard many a death scream when I was a mere trooper on the front line, I'll be damned if they are replaced by moans of pleasure. That sort of thing is just not on. Except in the army of course, we are now far more tolerable.
Anyway, one of the many important friends that accompanied Lawrence throughout his trials of buggery in Arabia was Selim Ahmed, nicknamed "Dahoum", which is Arabic for "Dark little bugger". Historians are confused by this poem that Lawrence writ, addressed to "S.A.", which is obviously Selim Ahmed:
To S. A.
- I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
- and wrote my will across the sky in stars
- To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
- that your eyes might be shining for me
- When we came.
I've been in the army forty years and even I recognise a verse on buggery addressed to another man when I see one. Good gracious. Please note, if you are in the service and you wish to pen homoerotic poetry, this is fine by me and everyone else in the military. In fact, do please do it, the army needs an new image acceptable to the public and the Daily Mail.
Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Yet another Anglo-Irish field marshall in the British army with very esteemed and universally-recognised credentials, this time in WWII, Bernard Montgomery was also queer. Or at least, a repressed homosexual, a term which doesn't help the irrational image already formed in one's head.
In fact, such is the mishusbandry amongst historians over whether he really was homosexual, that attention is poured forth over his righteous (and right it is) input over the 1967 legalisation of gay sex in the house of Lords, of which he decried as a "charter for buggery". This and he married in 1927, but only for a 10 year period, and he still enforced a lifestyle that was enveloped with men, conversing with men, meetings with men, skirmishes with men and battalions of men.
The most controversial of claims that surrounded his reputation after his death in 1976 was that during the war he became very friendly with a 12-year old Swiss boy called Lucien, his "little Swiss friend". Now I'd wish to neglect these sordid details, but apparently Montgomery liked to bathe Lucien and scrub him down personally to ensure that "he didn't catch cold". Taking his temporary headquarters to the coldest heights of the Alps in the dying stages of the war may have necessitated such hygienic methods, but one can't help that feel there must've been something suspicious going on.
Prof. Hamilton claimed to have known Montgomery in the last twenty years of his life, a friendship that began when Hamilton was just 11 years of age. While the professor can't say if Montgomery had been passionate in his relationships with other men, he deems his love to be purely platonic. "I myself have more than 100 very loving letters from him.", Hamilton says in his book. This is deeply irritating. I sent the aging field marshall a letter in 1975 when I was a young captain, and he never wrote back.
However, homosexuals generally talk to their mothers four times a day. And Montgomery didn't even attend his own mother's funeral. A real manly man.
Toleration in the military
Our own Prince Harry may not support these fresh ideas, but ever since the execution of King Charles I (who looked very, very, very flamboyant, I haste to add), even the royal family's own personal beliefs may have to be ignored by the fighting man on the front. The Prince's views on the devilish Arabs are perfectly alright though. I mean, sorry, they're wrong. There is no place for his kind of comments in the modern army, in any shape or form.
But you have to bear in mind, it won't be Harry who is directly in line for the throne. It will be either Prince Charles or Prince William. Whoever's still alive at the end of the current monarch's reign. But it'll be a deeply thoughtful and a parenthetically warlike noble king who wishes to succeed in this world and win back the power poured to the monarch by the divine light Himself. But also, I suppose, a tolerable King who can stomach the rude peasants dropping flowers at the foot of the Queen's coffin when she finally goes (RIP, when that happens).
The common man can redesign himself in the image of our King, it is the greatest attitude possible in this life. A king of 21st century proportions will be the first to let you know that toleration of homosexuality is the most important fact to bear in mind when you join the corps. We can neutralise our enemies for their national resources in the war of attrition, we can defend our shores from any resolute nation and we can stand in the searing rays of radiation, but many of us have proven that we still have to learn about the ideals of speech and sexuality, absurd they may be.
This is why toleration of homosexuality is now one of the basic skills in army life. It will also be the key personality of our future king, and it would be crass to mistake our lord-in-chief. It should be made a serious court martial offence to deter the royal family of their rights over the common man, if you ask me.
Homosexuality in foreign militaries
In the same way that other nations have modelled their own governments on the British system, the British have had structures developed straight from neighbouring ideals. Both physically and politically. The army too, have seen such radical moves that were at least partially inspired by foreign devils. The Romans used organisation and cunning which defeated the unruly Britons. Gunpowder was a Chinese product and revolutionised the way we fight. The Redcoat design was inspired by the constant, incessant wounding of British soldiers in naval battles with the French. Having red uniforms meant the endless spurt of blood was a bit less discouraging.
The Greek military adorned it's phalanx and cavalry units with homosexuals and that is a clear example we in Britain can all follow. Especially in the army. The Greek writer Homer wrote the Iliad and Odyssey, both illustrious texts of which carry homosexual allusions in its military heroes, which must be why the hoplite armour looked so fashionable. I'm not so sure everything in ancient Greek culture has benifited the country as much as my daughter tells me (democracy simply gifts access to public stupidity, and I hate going to the theatre), but their toleration of homosexuality is a shining forethought in a time of constant terror from Romans, Barbarians and Millwall supporters.
The Japanese had one of most tolerable civilisations that existed long before homophobia became a leading pastime of the common man. In fact, they considered love between men the most elevated love possible, even beyond the platonic love I used to give my son when he wouldn't join the Army Cadets. I gave him the whipping he deserved and told him it was for the best for the both of us. Anyway, the Japanese never saw homosexuality as a sin, but there was a brief lapse when sodomy - god forbid - was subject to Penal Code and law in the late 1800s, not coincidently when an outdated Japan renewed itself to western standards in order to catch up with the world. Ironically, it is now the reverse today.
It is not all a bed of roses for foreign homosexuals who desire entrance into their own local armed forces unfortunately. Well, fortunately really. Less soldiers for us to fight. But one can't help but eagerly notice that this is deeply unfair for the man who simply wants to aid his country through times of bad, and even good (hopefully for the British army corps this will never be the case). The United States of America is one appalling example. Homosexuals are permitted in the USMC, but they do not appreciate your avert sexuality being made aware to every man in the barracks. However, keep it under your frock and mum's the word as far as your captain would be concerned. He'd probably like you all the more anyway.
And then there are the countries who do not admit homosexual cadets at all. In fact, a lot of nations still live in the past, and instead of swapping CV information, the militaries of the world will oft exchange bullets for the homosexual communities' offering of fragrant flowers and seductive carpet selections. Bear in mind that it is these kind of militaries that the British army lock horns with. I find it a damned shame that a peaceful solution can't be organised with these people. If only we agreed with them over homosexuality, I mean, THEY agree with us over homosexuality. Then the world would be at peace at last.
Homosexual roles in the military
Luckily for this policy of utter haberdashery, there are some key jobs in the military that could use the keen attention of a homosexual. Desk jobs are ultimately preferable on my end... away from the important and often nasty business on the battlefield that is, and in my office reorganising the stationary. Well, not my office. Anywhere else in the the base of operations is a fitting place for a homosexual in the army.
But I digress, a policy is indeed a policy, and there are plenty of areas of the battlefield for a homosexual. If he feels that the rifle is too heavy, the bunker too dirty, or the enemy too harsh, then they are perfectly allowed to take up work elsewhere on the front. If this is still not the case, then I guess I should get down to the list of menial tasks.
It is made no secret that gay men are very wordy and have powerful elocution. They speak fast and as brief as possible when the times are desperate. Therefore, fill the entire department with homosexuals and you have the most fluid and efficient communications system you could ever need. Countless lives are saved when the men in communications use slang term and endearing words to sooth a dangerous situation into prosperity.
The only clear disadvantage for this that I can think of would be that the homosexuals would be pervious to enlightening the phone lines to controversial gossip and fabulous choices of shoes. These are not appropriate topics in the military, and I personally do not allow it. Unless you want to do that as part of you lunch break of course, that's fine.
Given the dress concerns for homosexuals, not to mention posture, gait and accent, they are far more likely to stand out in the battlefield. This fact has instigated a brainwave at the military academy; homosexuals could work to distract the enemy in tight situations. A barrage of "yoo-hoo"-dling and a chorus of "She'll Be Coming around the Mountain" will have the enemy thoroughly confused, while more important convoys, wounded troops or tanks can slip by unnoticed.
Gay decoy troopers will act as not only a false target for the enemy to be distracted by, but also a good enough placement for allied bullets in case the area is too hot. After all, we cannot make a dead British soldier any more dead by whizzing bullets past it's position, can we? Certainly not.
Yet another advantage for this role in combat that I can think of is that in most wars the British military take part in (all under pressure from the public, I must say), the enemy hold beliefs that persecute homosexuality. Therefore, when they catch sight of an obvious, prancing homosexual that moves rhythmically to ballroom music, they will, by their own law, down their guns in favour of rocks and attempt to stone the decoy troops. It is this moment of weakness that our troops can gain the upper hand and immediately open fire whilst the enemy foolishly switch to more primitive missiles from their position.
And they are as such.
I suppose, quite frankly, that the upshot of this article is that it enables me closure:
Altitude of problem mountain notwithstanding, I personally believe that by inducting gay men into the armed forces, we can overcome the horrible persecution gays have taken in the past. The army can give the impression that we are a well-rounded unit with folk from all backgrounds: rich, poor, foreign, ignorant and finally homosexual. Though I believe the ranks have teemed with disgusting homosexuals for years, I am willing to come out and say it's free for any man, regardless of his minority status, to join the army.
This way, the nation's public will no longer associate the British military with it's old age adage that required only fit, young men with violent minds and preparedness to kill ruthlessly without having to be told what to do.
Oh no, that image is a thing of the past. Her majesty's armed forces are now a modern army and our support for homosexuals everywhere will uplift how the army are seen in the media, because that's what is more important here... As well as the rights we give to gay men, I suppose. Just as long as there aren't any dirty foreigners in the forces.
Next week, I shall be giving a talk on why Joanna Lumley is so very, very wrong. Thank you for your time.
- Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, Ronald Hyam; pp.38-39
- From the now liquidated paper Happy and Gay Times, dated 1897 at the earliest
- Empire and Sexuality II: Ripped Boys of the Front, Ronald Hyam; pp.66-67
- My Fuckfest Tour of the British Army 1948-1955, Professor Hamilton, pp.99-101