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Military leaders insist that homosexuals threaten the bonding that is vital to “the military culture.” But gays are simply incorporated into that culture as useful foils for masculine self-validation.
Seldom merely shunned, suspected gays often run a gantlet of macho bullyragging.
One midshipman who suffered that indignity later gathered the plebes who inflicted it to congratulate them on their teamwork.
“It’s pretty complicated to understand what’s going on psychologically,” Burke says.
By imagining themselves objects of homosexual lust, they unwittingly place themselves in the feminine role—which may explain the vehemence of their objections.“It’s a version of order, congratulating one’s tormentors.” There did seem a need for a kind of ritual humiliation, perhaps on the notion that it toughened a man up.Drag shows: Afloat, some of the rituals are even more bizarre, like the Dionysian initiation rites, including simulated acts of sodomy, that sailors may undergo for their first equator crossing.At the academy, Burke notes, male cadets often gussied up for the shows with undisguised zeal.Freud said men are engaged in a constant struggle against what he called their “feminine or passive” side.
The roommate of Seaman Allen Schindler, who was beaten to death by one of his shipmates in Sasebo, Japan [October 1992], said he himself endured “a living hell” of threats, taunts and physical abuse aboard the an amphibious assault ship.