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There is a more ingenuous transsexual tradition, almost as old as the military itself, of drag shows put on by GIs for the entertainment of GIs.
Yet their own off-base conduct may not be that different.
Zeeland’s book, for instance, describes an informal network of gay American GIs and civilians based in Frankfurt, Germany, shortly before the Gulf War.
In the accommodating embrace of the city’s teeming red-light district, gay and straight GIs pursued separate but equal satisfactions, and crossover experimentation was not unknown.
“They were young, lonely, and sometimes desperately horny,” writes Zeeland, a civilian employee of the Army in Frankfurt for eight years and himself gay.
Hazing may be a way of repudiating the feminine side by a direct act of aggression.
“You wipe out some part of yourself that’s undesirable,” says Gregory Herek, a research psychologist at the University of California, Davis.But no solution can do more than paper over an uncomfortable reality of life in the trenches: that the male bonding so prized by military commanders—the willingness to die for one’s buddies—can engender another kind of closeness as well.Many GIs recognize homosexual leanings for the first time in the all-male surroundings.The roommate of Seaman Allen Schindler, who was beaten to death by one of his shipmates in Sasebo, Japan [October 1992], said he himself endured “a living hell” of threats, taunts and physical abuse aboard the an amphibious assault ship.It’s not easy to figure out just what is going on in the sometimes erotic, often violent rituals young sailors and soldiers practice.Author Steven Zeeland says that more than half the soldiers who appear in his just-published book, didn’t come out until they joined up.