Gay advocate furnishes perspective on military


April 02, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

With the Senate holding hearings on accepting open homosexuals in the military, it might consider inviting a prominent leader of the Chicago gay community to testify.

He is Jon-Henri Damski, a longtime columnist for the Windy City Times, a gay Chicago newspaper, and an outspoken advocate of gay causes.

If he were to testify, Damski could offer a fresh new perspective on gays serving openly in the military. At least it is new to me, and it would probably be an eye-opener for members of Congress.

Damski contends that lifting the ban on gays would not change (( the armed forces because just about everyone in the military is already gay to some degree, whether they know it or not.

In fact, he says, it is this widespread gayness among the troops that creates male bonding and the buddy system that makes the military effective.

He explained his provocative theory in a recent column:

"Showers and men sleeping next to men in 'forced intimacy' in barracks are a real fear for many men in the military. Some men get 'these strange feelings' and have sudden urges they can't deal with: Bold horniness. Erection. They ask themselves: 'Why do I feel this way, when there are no chicks around? Society calls it perversion and sin. Something must be wrong with me. But that can't be. That guy over there is making me feel this way. He's doing it to me. He's the promiscuous aggressor. He looks like one of them -- gays, fags, sissies, fruits. So I'll challenge him. I'll beat the living --- out of him. Then no one will know, or even suspect, how I feel.'

"Gays in the military must be judged on their conduct. But also sex education must get real in the military so men can understand 'these feelings' that all men have at times.

"All men have some homosexuality in them, just under the surface of their everyday life. . . .

"Male bonding and homoerotic glue is what keeps all male to male unity together. Buddies-love keeps units together. This 'glue' is stolen from the ancient love that dare not speak its name: gay love.

"That's what holds men and boys together as they swish on the battlefield in military drag.

"A touch of effeminacy, in each man, is what holds these macho men together.

"Usually they have to get very drunk to express their love and feelings. Then they are too zonked out for sex, but the 'gay' bonding and feeling is still there, buddy.

"At school, at work, in dorms, and at the induction center of the Army where I was rejected, I've been in 80,000 showers, washrooms and bunks with other men. Without incident.

"I can tell the difference between a general public bathroom, an isolated tearoom and a shower at Man's Country. As a gay man on the job, I conduct myself with decorum. And in the military, I'd do the same."

"The only thing that scares me sharing a shower or barracks is some jerk who can't handle himself will get steamed and use me, an openly gay man, as an excuse for his exhibitionism -- then get frightened by his own feelings and attack me to eradicate the faggy feelings inside him."

If what Damski says is true, then open gayness in the military might not be as big a problem as the Pentagon and others anticipate.

On the other hand, there are those who might disagree.

For example, some might say that when they go over to the enlisted men's club and get beered up, it isn't because they want to shed their inhibitions and "express their love and affection." It's because they like drinking beer.

And there are those who would say that when they work together as a well-disciplined fighting unit, it is out of a sense of self-survival and mutual dependency, not because of a barely concealed urge to play kissy-face with the first sergeant.

Some might even take an oath on a stack of Playboys that they have a genuine attraction to those of the female persuasion.

Nevertheless, Damski is a leading gay thinker and spokesman, so the senators, the Pentagon brass, the enlisted troops and the rest of us should give some thought to his views on the military.

And maybe for reasons that Damski hasn't even considered.

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