How has the culture of the US military changed, post DADT repeal?
May 28, 2012 6:54 PM   Subscribe

How has the culture of the US military changed, post DADT repeal?

I got out of the USMC in 2010, and haven't really kept in touch with anyone that I knew while in. I know that it has been some time since the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy was repealed (September 2011, IIRC), effectively allowing LGB(T?) personnel to serve openly.

What I'm looking for, are links to newspaper articles (whether from the Times, Post, USA Today, etc.) on the ways in which the culture of the military (regardless of branch of service) has changed since then (bonus points if the article isn't behind a paywall). Alternatively, if you've read an online article from a cable or network news channel, feel free to share that as well.

Finally, if you have personal anecdotes of how the culture has changed, I'd love to hear those as well. With as many MeFites as there are, surely there are at least a couple who are currently in the US military, got out since DADT repeal, or know someone who fits one of those criteria. I'm aware that cultural changes may/will vary depending on branch of service and component (active duty vs reserves), and welcome anecdotes regardless of what categories they fall into.

Thanks in advance!
posted by AMSBoethius to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
None of the people I know on active duty have shared anything, nor has the one active duty USMC spouse I know - my impression is that most random small units haven't really changed much at all. It's possible my friends are keeping minor stuff quiet, but given how much I hear about, e.g., corporals falling asleep while on watch, I kind of doubt that I'd not hear about someone coming out, or someone getting in trouble for bothering someone who's out.

No one I know is deployed overseas at the moment - they're all stateside, in... I want to say four different bases.

Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that I read the news, I'd never have known DADT had been repealed at all. My stepdad never mentions anything, either (he's retired Army reserve, with lots of friends, including at least two who quite definitely don't adhere to normal gender roles, still in the reserves.) I'll ask him if he's heard anything, though.
posted by SMPA at 7:07 PM on May 28, 2012

I found this article to be very hopeful: Gay Students Graduate Openly At Military Academies.
posted by skye.dancer at 7:15 PM on May 28, 2012

Last December, a same-sex couple in the Navy took part in the traditional "first kiss".
posted by Tufa at 7:38 PM on May 28, 2012

A friend of mine was deployed overseas with the USMC when DADT ended, and he said basically it was the source of much joking but not a lot else changed. ("Hey, it's after Sept 20th, it's okay if I mean it that way" type things.) I don't know if anyone in his unit had come out, though. I gather there was some training down through the sgt level well before 9/20/11.

Also, those two petty officers are the cutest damned thing ever. This picture of a newly returned marine kissing his boyfriend got a lot of press, too, at the time.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:51 PM on May 28, 2012

There definitely seems to be more US soldiers on gay hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff this past year. I chatted to a marine in Afghanistan the other day, who was using his own photo in his profile.
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:23 PM on May 28, 2012

A high school friend was in the military in the late 90s, left (not sure why) and returned after DADT went away. And he was/is 36.

His FB posts are mainly about him beating time trials against younger guys, but in FB stalking him, it seems like lots of his pals from his first time in the military give him a lot of support on his current efforts.

Oddly this guy was the smart snarky goofball wiseass but nice type. He drove an old Volvo (in Michigan! That's a feern car.) He was editor of an alternative student newspaper and comic. OH HOW I WAS SECRETLY IN LOVE WITH HIM.

And now Facebook tells me he's gay. And in the military.
posted by k8t at 8:45 PM on May 28, 2012

I was just reading the Wikipedia article on the aftermath of the repeal of DADT, because I knew there was some lapse between the Presidential declaration and any orders actually given to active military personnel, and all of these viral images and videos are mentioned. It also has a good list of "firsts," such as the first same-sex military wedding, and the like.

It's worth a read by itself, but I liked this bit: In late October 2011, speaking at the Air Force Academy, Col. Gary Packard, leader of the team that drafted the DOD's repeal implementation plan, said: "The best quote I've heard so far is, 'Well, some people's Facebook status changed, but that was about it.'"
posted by Sunburnt at 9:01 PM on May 28, 2012

Yeah, my friends who are still in (AD Army) say it's the repeal was more or less met with a collective shrug. This Stars & Stripes article about covers it.
posted by lullaby at 9:11 PM on May 28, 2012

Buddy of mine who went back in and was in the USMC for the end of DADT said most of the younger Marines just shrugged/fed it into the Giant Wiseass Machine they use for everything, but they're 17-21 year old kids that grew up in a world where it's normal for them. It's the older guys and super-religious officers that were the ones freaking out.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:09 PM on May 28, 2012

Midshipmen describe smooth transition from 'don't ask, don't tell'--Baltimore Sun article picked up by Seattle Times. Now if the armed services would just let women wear the same uniforms (get rid of those "nurses'" caps!).
posted by Carol Anne at 7:11 AM on May 29, 2012

My husband and a few of my gay friends joined while DADT was still in effect. My husband met some very openly gay people in basic and AIT, and said that most people didn't seem to care, but there were a lot of homophobic jokes. My gay friends told their closest friends, but otherwise remained closeted out of fear. I had one straight friend who acted gay in order to be discharged, but this happened over 7 years ago, and his stories of treatment of suspected gay soldiers don't reflect my husband's more current experiences.

I asked both my Uncle (who's been in over 30 years) and my husband if anything changed after DADT, and they said that nothing really did because the culture was already fairly accepting. My husband reports that there are still gay jokes, games of gay chicken, and other such actions, but from observing some of it in person, I feel it is more of a way for straight soldiers to deal with awkwardness of very close friendships in a culture which views tight attachments to other men as homosexual. My husband developed a very close relationship with another man in AIT and they facebook labeled themselves as in a bromance, and they were called gay, but in a joking manner rather than a hateful one. My husband's an Airborne Army Medic, and I'm sure there's some variation depending on branch, MOS, and branch. He has run across some individuals who are very homophobic, but they are the minority.
posted by avagoyle at 8:20 AM on May 30, 2012

I also wanted to add that currently, I think it's harder to be an open atheist in the military than to be openly gay.
posted by avagoyle at 8:22 AM on May 30, 2012

Thanks for the responses everyone. I'm kinda surprised I missed the Wikipedia article that Sunburnt linked.

So, if I'm reading everything correctly, the majority reaction within the military upon DADT repeal was basically "meh, whatevs" although there may be a few curmudgeon holdouts. If that's accurate, then within a few years as people get out, retire, etc., then there will be hardly anyone left that would be bothered by it. Which is (I think) a good thing.
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:27 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Follow up answer: my stepdad says there have been plenty of essentially out people in his units since the mid-1990s or so, and that no one said much of anything about the end of DADT when it happened. And there's this post today (from an LDS Army officer:)
In my unit we have some openly gay soldiers, but nobody cares because they can do their job and that’s all that matters.
posted by SMPA at 8:42 AM on June 10, 2012

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