Straight Guys Tell: “You have to be a little bit gay to be in the infantry”

“How does a straight soldier cope with knowing there’s a gay person in his unit? That’s what I’ve come to Fort Lewis to find out.”


Michael Joseph Gross offers up some interesting gay espionage in ‘Straight Guys Tell,’ a first-hand account of his visit to an army base where he talks to soldiers about what they really think of gays in the military. Gross encounters a range of men, most of whom seem not to care, including this one:

“Homosexual conduct happens in the military every day. Everywhere.”

There is a long pause, during which I detect no trace of a smirk on his face, and his words hang in the air while I take them in. His tone is dead serious. “What does that mean?” I ask.

“Homosexual conduct happens every single day, all over the place, in every military installation in the world. For sure, in the infantry.”

“I’m not following.”

“Grabbing ass,” he says, like he’s talking to someone who speaks English as a second language. “Somebody grabs my ass every day. That’s homosexual conduct.”

I don’t know what to say. So I ask, “What are you telling me?”

“You have to be a little bit gay to be in the infantry.”


He spells it out, talks to me like I’m an idiot, punching his words like a boxer hits a speed bag. This is the only moment on base when anyone speaks to me with what sounds like contempt — and not for the topic I’ve introduced, but for my intelligence. “You have to be a little bit gay. Gay, as in, you have to like being around guys, touching guys, being touched by guys, being pretty much only with guys. Not sucking-cock gay. Anybody tries to cross that line with me, he gets slapped. But if that’s what you want to do on your own time, in your own life, and you can shoot as good as I can, I. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit.”

Read all of Straight Guys Tell, the cover story of the November issue of The Advocate.

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