Ramirez, M. Heliana, and Paul R. Sterzing. “Coming out in Camouflage: A Queer Theory Perspective on the Strength, Resilience, and Resistance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Service Members and Veterans.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 29, no. 1 (January 2017): 68–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/10538720.2016.1263983.
There have been centuries of official and unofficial anti-LBGT laws in the military, labeling them as criminals and mentally ill (thus making them unfit to serve). Because of this, their contributions have been erased. Service members (SM) that weren’t heterosexual were sent to psychiatric hospitals or to the military incarceration facilities. About 100,000 LGBT SMs were discharged between 1941 and 1980, and 13,369 were discharged between 1993 and 2010 under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy.
Just between 2004 and 2009, replacing LGBT SMs who were discharged under DADT costed $193.3 million. LGBT veterans that served under such discriminatory policies had higher rates of depression, substance abuse, suicidality, and PTSD, compared to non-LGBT counterparts.
The source states that queer theory provides many ways that LGBT SM/Vs showed resistance everyday. Contrary to the attitudes of the general military, LGBT SMs exhibited their true selves by performing soldier shows in drag, using “gay culture” lines, and creating the opportunity to meet other LGBT members. Additionally, they’ve used strategic timing of coming out or keeping their sexuality concealed. The source says these are examples of their everyday strengths and resistance.
Anti-LGBT military policies
The source discusses multiple policies made throughout history
- Articles of War of 1916, “punishing sexual assault between men” (revised in 1919 to specify consensual and forced sex)
- 1940s/1950s Senate Subcommittee on Expenditures report deemed gay soldiers a “security risk” and likely to commit treason
- Navy’s 1957 Crittenden Report, stating gays didn’t pose any risk, sexual identity had no negative effect on service, and LGB SMs were successful (military denied existence of this until its release in 1976 by Freedom of Information Act)
- 1973 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed homosexuality from the list (caused the military to start banning based on conduct instead of mental charges)
- 1994 DADT, allowing LGBT SM to serve under the premise that they conceal their orientation (repealed in 2010)
LGBT military minority stressors
- LBGT-related military investigations, including coercive tactics and health/religious providers violating confidentiality
- Military sexual trauma, MST, including rape and other forms of sexual assault, which goes unspoken, even for decades
- Criminalization of HIV/AIDS, AIDS was treated as a “homosexual problem” instead of a medical problem, causing gay SMs to avoid their military doctors and be discharged on the assumption of sodomy (as discussed in a previous annotation)
- Discrimination, including pastors quoting homosexual damnation passages from the bible, people refusing to share elevators, or refusing to bring homosexual patients food
Strategies of strength and resistance by LGBT service members
Queering military trainings/spaces, as aforementioned, subverting the marriage quarters systems (reserved for heterosexual SMs), and creating a more relaxed environment of their HIV/AIDS ward in hospitals
Strategic use of “the closet”, calling other LGBT SMs “family” and using retirement parties to come out. Contrarily, LGBT SMs were hiding their sexual orientation to put their patriotism and other benefits first, or they were in a higher position that had to enforce anti-LGBT policies (and they wanted to protect their LGBT family).
Creating underground LGBT military support networks, such as the Coalition of Gay Servicepeople (CGS)
With all the policies that remain enacted and the ones that have been repealed, LGBT veterans or current members of the U.S. Military will be working more towards fixing the issues. The stigmas surrounding the LGBT SM must be unlearned and their identity should be supported. The source urges that the mental and behavioral health of LGBT SM/Vs should be blended with their daily strength and resilience.
The source discusses LGBT policies in the U.S. military and stressors for LGBT SMs, but the source also delves into the strengths and examples of resilience in LGBT SMs. It is a change of pace on the topic, examining ways that LGBT SMs worked around the homophobic system and discussing their strengths. The source is probably the most recent sources. There is a contradiction that should be noted: this source talks about higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and PTSD, whereas a previous source says the resiliency of LGBT SMs is an explanation for why their rates are lower. Ultimately, the source relates to the political aspect of other sources with its policies and considers a response to the homophobic environment and stigmas placed on homosexual SMs: they are successful, beneficial, and did not pose any risks.