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Gays In the Military: UK Armed Forces Lead By Example

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2009
Trooper James Wharton on the cover of Soldier Magazine

Trooper James Wharton on the cover of Soldier Magazine

This month’s cover of Soldier magazine, an official British Army publication, shows Trooper James Wharton with his Iraq medal, with the word “Pride” highlighted. This is the first time in the magazine’s history that an openly gay service member has been featured on the cover. While the debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continues to rage in the U.S., the British are showing us how it’s done:

Restricted guidance signed by the chiefs of staff and sent to commanding officers gave answers to a long list of possible queries such as: “How should I protect young people in the Service from predatory homosexuals?” (the response: “It would be wrong to assume homosexuals were predatory”) and, “Will homosexuals be able to bring their partners [to mess functions]?” (the response: “It will be for the Mess President to exercise discretion”).

“The thought of two men dancing at a mess function was more than some people could cope with,” explained one officer. “They thought they would get raped in their beds.”

But the predictions proved wrong and the military entered its brave new world with surprising ease. A confidential review two years later across all three services found that most officers and junior ranks, particularly among the younger ones, had accepted the lifting of the ban without much comment. It was only amongst the older Senior Non-Commissioned and Warrant Officers that it had met significant resistance.

According to The Independent, senior US officers are quietly holding talks with their British counterparts to learn some valuable lessons in preparation for the day when gays and lesbians can serve openly in the US military.



July 27th, 2009 | LINK

Patriots willing to serve their country come in all shapes, sizes, religions, colors, genders and sexual identities.

July 27th, 2009 | LINK

While I am not sure what was on the cover of the IDF’s “Bamahane” military magazine, the July 22nd edition featured the lead story was about being gay in the military. In the second picture, it’s the guy’s partner helping attach his shoulder marks.

This, along with the British story you highlight, was described in a piece that appeared in a slew of American news media in mid-July.

Richard W. Fitch
July 27th, 2009 | LINK

Last year some time there was an article reporting a full military wedding of two men in the UK armed forces. How long will it be before we catch up with the civilized world?

July 27th, 2009 | LINK

In Britain, gay soldiers are valued enough to be on the cover of a military magazine, whereas in America they are stripped of their careers and treated as though their brave service means less than nothing. Something is very, very wrong with our country.

Christopher Waldrop
July 27th, 2009 | LINK

Unfortunately every time this comes up there’s always someone who points out that the US army is composed of volunteers. The person who usually brings this up adds, “If homosexuals don’t like the policy they don’t have to serve.” If this story demonstrates anything it’s that sexual identity doesn’t matter when it comes to military services.

And from now on whenever someone uses that excuse I’ll be happy to tell them that military service in Britain is also voluntary.

July 27th, 2009 | LINK


July 28th, 2009 | LINK

Here in the UK, gay men and lesbians not only make it onto a military magazine cover – for years they have joined the annual London Gay Pride, marching in dress uniform, in formation, through the streets of London with the rest of us.

This is a long, long way from DADT!

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