The Relevancy of HomoEroticism

Homoerotic is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “marked by, revealing or portraying homosexual desires.” It is important to note that the concept of homoeroticism does not necessarily lead to acts of homosexuality. There is a very fine line between homoeroticism and homosexuality. Homoeroticism and homosexuality existed as far back as the ancient civilizations of mankind. They were well documented through paintings, sculptures, and scriptures from Ancient China 650 BCE, Ancient Persia, Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Greeks. Homoeroticism of the Ancient Greeks was introduced into mainstream media through shows as the television network STARS’ show Spartacus. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on the relevancy of homoeroticism as it is still as pertinent today as it was thousands of years ago.

egypt SPARTACUS4-1

Many would argue that there are many different concepts to homoeroticism. I will argue that the two most important core concepts of homoeroticism are masculinity and the presence of a heterosexual man. Without these two core concepts, there won’t be such a thing as homoeroticism. My argument is further supported by JD Samson & MEN’s music video “Make Him Pay.” In this music video, the homosexual rhetoric is prevalent but it never crosses over to an act of homosexuality. There are images and scenes of bombs, explosion, soldiers, guns, fire, cops, mechanic, fighting, blood, muscle men, and contact sport; which is everything that is associated with masculinity. It is also important to note that although this music video is very homosexually suggestive, it never showed any men kissing or engaging in any forms of homosexual intimacies with each other.

The presence, no matter how little or how obvious, of a heterosexual man is needed for it to be homoerotic. As mentioned earlier, homoerotic is defined as “marked by, revealing or portraying homosexual desires” thus never mentioning anything about the actual sexual act of homosexuality. Contact sports, such as wrestling, are prime examples of the homoeroticism because it does not portray acts of homosexuality nor the pertinent sexual desire to be with that person of the same sex.

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The military is also a place where homoeroticism exists. The normative nature of the military is a very masculine environment that nurtures and bonds the camaraderie between men. That same nurturing and bonding might eventually lead to homoeroticism but NOT homosexuality. It is evident that the majority of men in the military are heterosexuals. As my time in the military, I can say that that same majority are the same ones expressing and involving themselves in more homoerotic situations than the actual gay men in the military themselves.

Homoeroticism existed for thousands of years and is still relevant in today’s culture and society. It is important that it is not to be confused with homosexuality because the two represent very different outcomes. In my opinion, the two core concepts that are important in homoeroticism are masculinity and the presence of a heterosexual figure. Homoeroticism will never disappear from society or human civilizations as it has lasted for over thousands of years. Though I do believe that the line between homoeroticism and homosexuality will eventually become thinner and thinner as we progress into the 21th Century.

 

 

Silent Warriors, Silent No More

“We had heard about these very frightening psychiatrists who were going to grill you. We thought they were the all-seeing people. . . .  So, I walked in and I sat down and he look, he called me by name and he said, ‘Private, do you like girls?’ I said, ‘Well, of course I like girls.’ My best friends were girls, and I love girls. ‘Next!’ That was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t tell’ in those days.” Jack Strouss WWII Veteran

Jack Strouss, WWII Veteran at 90 years old.

For centuries gay and lesbian military members have bravely fought for Americas freedoms. They have sacrificed, endured, and relinquished themselves. They have suffered through hardships, pain, experienced combat, have lost their brothers and sisters in arms, seen and committed acts that no human should ever be asked to commit, have sustained service connected disabilities, and some have even paid the ultimate price.They served proudly, and fought bravely. All this, only to be degraded, hunted down, discriminated against, forced to live in fear, silence, and eventually for some, discharged from the military and left with no benefits.

Here are some of the stories these veterans have to share during there time in an unaccepting service.

Denny Meyer, Navy and Army Veteran who served during the Vietnam war.

“In those days, we served in silence. And not one day passed when you didn’t worry that you were going to be found out . . . . When men are at sea, they horse around. And so, they’d wrestle on the floor with 30 guys shouting. But when anybody wanted to do that with me, I would grab their neck and bounce their head against the bulkheads — ‘I don’t go for that,’ you know.” In an interview with NPR, Meyer explains how his unwilliingness to partake in wrestling lead his shipmates to percieve him as the “straightest guy around”. Ironiclly this perception of him later lead to officials requesting for his aid in the “witch hunt for homosexuals”. His response to this was, “I don’t know nothing about that.” Meyer admits that during his time in the military he lead a lonely life. For fear of any kind of slip up or suspicion directed towards him could result in a discharge from service.

Measurments and screenings were in place to filter out any gays and lesbians, however the efficacy of the medical practices used were unethical and questionable. Gays and lesbians who were identified during their service were sent to psychiatric wards where psychiatrists would perform experiments on them to see how they might be able to identify gays during recruitment, one such experiment was the “gag test”. If the recruit did not show a gag reflex when a tongue depressor was inserted in the mouth then they were presumed gay. Before the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy if any service member was found to be a homosexual they were given a blue discharge, or undesirable discharge; however, some were actually given a dishonorable discharge. Whether given a blue discharge or a dishonorable discharge the service member was stripped from all military benefits, they were not entitled to VA health care or compensation benefits for injuries sustained from service, they could not apply for VA home loans, and could not receive any benefits under the Montgomery G.I. bill.  To make things worse a service member’s hometown officials were notified of their sexuality; some service members could not return home due to the stigma that was placed upon them.

“Back then, the treatment was barbaric. . . . These are queers! These are lesbians! Stay away from these homosexual women. . . .They tried everything they could to try to break us down to what they thought we were.” Lisa Weiszmiller

Lisa Weiszmiller, U.S. Army Veteran.


Lisa’s trauma and struggle is just one example of a service member who was victimized and criminalized, but there are well over 100,00 service members who suffered the same treatment due to their orientation. The introduction of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993 did not change the environment for gay and lesbian service members and over 13,000 service members were seperated from the military under the DADT policy.Many speculated that lifting a ban on gays and lesbians would affect unit cohesion, cause great damage to the military, or result in higher military deaths. Given the circumstances it is difficult to find straight members of the military community speaking about serving alongside gays and lesbians. This could be because of the policies put in place, or for the fear of placing a fellow service member in danger, or maybe because orientation in the military doesn’t matter.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” censors their reality from our public conscience. The policy’s scheme, however, has one substantial flaw: the truth. Gays are serving, and always have. We have 1 million gay vets to prove it.” Jeff Cleghorn

DADT did increase the level of stress and created a fearful living environment on top of an already stressfull military lifestyle. Fortunately for some gay and lesbian service members their dedication to duty and outstanding service was all that mattered; “you’re a good soldier”, was the response some gay and lesbian service members recieved after being investigated for their sexuality, while their case is pushed aside and ignored; allwoing them to continue their service.

Having served alongside gay and lesbian service members myself I was compelled to make an archive post in their honor. This small post by no means exemplifies the full sacrifice and hardships our gay and lesbian service members have endured.The military veterans of the LGBTQ community have never stopped fighting. I find these brave members to be among the most resilient and courageous of all warriors who have ever served. For not only have they sworn to defend Americas freedoms (even freedoms they were not entitled to) they have continued to fight and have led the way towards equality rights and justice for all.

Rupert Starr, WWII Veteran and gay rights activist.

“When I was in the military they gave a me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one”. Leonard Matlovich

Leonard Matlovich, U.S.A.F. Vietnam Veteran and gay rights activist.

Lesbian Veterans marching against institutionalized silence in Washington D.C.

 

The repeal of DADT in 2011 has now allowed for gays and lesbians to serve freely and openly in the armed forces. Veterans who have received other than honorable discharges due to their orientation can file a claim and upgrade to an honorable discharge.