The New York Times has an excellent piece about the underground gay culture at West Point, where cadets are forbidden from coming out for fear of an immediate discharge under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.
Although the centerpiece of the article is Katherine Miller, who resigned this month after deciding she could no longer pretend to be heterosexual, several more gay women and men spoke with the reporter anonymously. “They said that they knew at least 20 lesbian cadets (West Point is about 15 percent female), and that when a friend recently drew a diagram showing who had had relationships with whom, it revealed a tight web.”
One man described a particularly long underground relationship.
The male cadet in his fourth year said he had had sexual relationships with several other men at the academy. Last year, he fell for a guy at a gay bar in Manhattan who, to the surprise of both of them, turned out to be a classmate.
Back on campus, they enjoyed and suffered through a seven-month relationship on the “down low,” he said. They might share a meal at Grant Hall, but if they passed each other in company, they would simply nod hello or offer a casual back-slap. They did not attend the year-end formal dance together.
“I went alone and told the other guys my girlfriend from home had flight delays,” said the senior, who goes nightly to a deserted parking lot to make personal phone calls, for fear of tipping off his straight roommates.
Miller wrote an anonymous blog about being a West Point lesbian. She often advocated for allowing gay military members to be open about their sexualities — they might have more in common than some think.
Furthermore, my particular group of friends refers to themselves as “bros,” embodying their masculine gender identities and their affinities toward feminine women. For example, should we be sitting down enjoying a Bud Light at Chili’s on the weekend, a comment is always made regarding the physical appearance of the waitress. And the hostess. And the girls sitting in the booth next to us… We resemble our male cadet counterparts exceptionally well. We really could be an asset to unit cohesion, bonding with men over our mutual love for women.
Interestingly, although of course all closeted military members are tacitly lying, most try not to violate the academy’s honor code, specifically the lying portion. One lesbian cadet noted that she cannot tell men hitting on her that she already has a boyfriend, as she would be lying.