Saturday, June 9, 2018

Memoirs of a Gay Leather Elder 07: Openly Gay in the 1970's Military, Part One

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In the Navy, we had a category of bragging called "Sea Stories", where we would compete to tell outrageous stories, and dare our buddies to disbelieve them.  

This is not that.  

Every story that I tell is never embellished.  At this end of my life, I don't care.  I will happily include stories where I fail, or look foolish.  My goal is to give witness to my life as it has been.  My life-story has been incredible enough for five average peoples' lifetimes, as you shall continue to see. 

I have lived my life on my own terms, always.

Every once in a while, I will post military stories from my life.  Don't expect these stories to be in chronological order.  I have a LOT more delightful stories than you might imagine.

Blatant Homosexuality Aboard The Navy Ship

Onboard the ship, in my little office.

So… As I talked about earlier, I was openly gay on my ship, from 1976 until I left the Navy in 1979.  WHY?!??  What a seemingly foolish thing to do, with no obvious payoff.  Well, I started out idealistic as hell, and only became more so as time went by.  I was inspired by the words of my hero Harvey Milk, who I never met, unfortunately:
“Gay brothers and sisters... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.” — Harvey Milk
I was self-righteously burning with a desire for massive, transformational, world-wide change.  Looking back, I would jokingly call myself a "Pie in The Face Homosexual".  This was because I took full advantage of my height to come out easily, often, and without really caring what the other person's take on the topic would be.

I'm one of the lucky ones.  I know that.  I have never broadcast "gay" on any channel.  It would have been exceedingly easy for me to have stayed in the closet.  Instead, I was a passionate agent of societal change.

Later on, I still came out at every possible opportunity, but entirely from a loving position.  That was a sure sign that I was growing as a human being.  I have never stopped doing so, even if it somehow caused me to make less money as a computer consultant.

I do have to admit, that I was a non-threatening fag.  I had plenty of "homo", but not a lot of "sexuality" in public view.  I was there to transform everybody's understanding, not grab ass with straight guys.

Somehow, it worked.  Plenty of my fellow sailors on the ship were quite supportive in wonderful ways.  Some stranger would pass me in the corridor, and burst out with the words "Oh, that Anita Bryant makes me SO MAD!"

I'd be befriended by the most ANNOYING straight guys, who were built like Greek gods, and who would chat with me for hours, naked, in the berthing (sleeping) area, scratching their balls, and oblivious to what they were doing to me.  Forty years later, I'm still clear that they were not flirting at all.  They were just early allies.

An Early Crisis

This is not Jess, but his body was 
identical, except for his pale, creamy skin

I had a buddy named Jess.  Jess was a genetically-perfect example of a mesomorph.  He could glance at some barbells, and his muscles would grow to the size of boulders.  He had biceps like softballs, and he never went to the gym. Ever.

He and I were friends, but he wasn't sexually attracted to me.  So, we would travel together and sleep in the same bed, but not as fuck-buddies.  He was quite attracted to my black buddy John, though.  More about John later.

Anyways, our ship headed off overseas, and after a few days at sea, I came to the shop to report for work in the morning, and everybody was acting weird around me.  Nobody would tell me why.  Finally, I was informed that Jess had been groped in his bed in the middle of the night, and he assumed that it was me.  Out of 1,300 guys, I'd be the obvious choice to be the culprit, right?

I called my co-workers and management staff together, and made the following points:

I was Jess' friend, and if I wanted to grab his cock, I would ask him first, face to face.  The mere fact of my open and honest homosexuality made me the guy that everybody could trust.  I am the opposite of a sneak.  In those days, I was a well-known, rather self-righteously honest super-activist.  As far as I was concerned, I was Harvey Milk in a uniform.

I said "The ones that you want to watch out for are the repressed, fearful and closeted men.  On this big-ass ship, I am quite sure that there are a lot of them."  They all nodded, looked at each other, and agreed that I was off the hook.  My friendship with Jess continued on a basis of deep trust.

The Two Master Chiefs

Each one of the stripes on this Master Chief's uniform sleeve 
represents four years of being in the Navy.
These guys had more than are shown here.

There were two Master Chiefs in my department, and they did NOT like me, since I was so bold and openly gay. One man had nothing to do with me, and the other one was always trying to verbally get the better of me. That never actually happened, because I was a bright, fearless young man who could think circles around him, for hours.  He'd say something mean or bitchy, and I'd respond with something funny, playful and true.

I never felt any fear or resentment.  I loved our interactions, really. I had discovered my wittiness, poise and my ability to take ownership of conversations. I was always exalted when I could stretch out my newfound abilities.

These guys were both married to women, and had children. They were the very definition of hyper-macho… Their forearms were covered in old, blurry tattoos and many nasty scars:

They'd get drunk together, and take a freshly-lighted cigarette and place it horizontally in between their forearms, pressed together.  Whoever pulled away first, lost the Supreme Butchness Competition.

Then, we went overseas.

The Happy Bar in Olongapo

There were sixty men in my division on the ship.  We repaired electronics.  Being the bottom man on the totem pole, I chipped a lot of paint, and swabbed a lot of decks.

When our ship pulled into the Subic Bay Navy base in the Philippines for a six-month stretch, I was invited to head over to "our" bar and join my shipmates.  Every division had their own bar in Olongapo. Ours was the "Happy Bar".

So, I left the base by foot, and crossed the Shit River.  Olongapo had no septic system, and all of the sewage flowed directly into the river. Young Marines and sailors would throw coins into the river from the bridge, and Filipino children would dive for them. 

As I headed toward the bar, I would pass endless amounts of military men in tight, crotch-revealing uniform pants.  It was the fashion, up until they decided to get rid of such impractical uniforms.

This pic was found on the Internet, as are several others.
I include it to illustrate what I never photographed at the time.

Every time that I was in port, I would patrol that same sleazy strip in my role as part of the Shore Patrol, carrying a billy-club on a heavy belt, and wearing a black armband.  It was GREAT.  I could stare at men's crotches and asses with no fear at all.  They'd glance at the man checking them out, see the military police armband, and suddenly look everywhere but at me. This pleased me in a perverted way, and I took full, lusty advantage.

Shore Patrol on the strip

Moving along, I'd see dozens of bars, tattoo parlors, Jeepneys, open-air restaurants, beggars, wild dogs (and sellers of cooked dog and monkey meat on a stick, with the obligatory little paw on the end of the stick).  More than anything else, I saw the Filipina hookers.  Thousands of them.

In a photo like this, you could always tell who the single guys were.  They'd have a Filipina hooker with them in the picture.  After the photo was taken, the married men would welcome THEIR hookers back onto their laps.  This was the earlier version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I finally found the bar, and came inside the door to find my entire team of sixty workmates in a crowded circle, whooping and waving cigarettes and bottles of beer as they counted upward together… "FORTY FIVE!  FORTY SIX!"  I pushed my way through the crowd, to see what the fuss was about.  

I found the two Master Chiefs, on the floor, drunk as skunks, pants around their ankles, laying on the floor on their sides, sucking each others' hard cocks.  The crowd was helping them to find out how long they could deep-throat each other without coming up for air.  Needless to say, I didn't know what to think at this point.  

Later, every time I would go to the bar after work, I'd see the same two guys sitting next to each other in a booth, across from my co-worker and ally Dave and his hooker.  The chiefs would be smoking, drinking heavily, and jacking each other off.  Later on, I asked Dave what the hell was going on.  He said "Everybody knows about them, and they are great guys.  We think that it's hilarious."

Once we got back home months later, the sassy Master Chief was trying to provoke me again, and I was a little irritated with him at long last.  I said "You know, science has proven that the man who is most upset about homosexuality is actually queer himself."

He replied "Oh, that's not true.  I'm 100 percent straight!"  My quick rejoinder:  "What about the Happy Bar?"  He said "Oh, that's on the other side of the International Date Line.  That's DIFFERENT!"

The Marriage Trap

Subic Bay women were in Olongapo for one reason: To snare an American military man who would marry them, and take them to the USA, so they could send money off to their family in the Philippines.  It worked, too, and a lot more than you might realize. Some pretty young lady would be a young man's first sexual playmate, and she would pour on the charm.  He'd fall head over heels in love, and that would be that.  A mousetrap, with first-time pussy for bait.

The entire local culture was designed to make this happen.  The local women told us many times:  "Don't be a Butterfly!"  This was their phrase describing a man who would fuck a whore, leave her behind and keep fucking a different whore each time.  No, that was bad and rude, and these women would retaliate, so that NO woman would have sex with a known "butterfly."

The Sexual Hunt

Needless to say, I was not in a market for female whores.  There were local "Benny Boy" bars, for those looking for Filipino drag queens and sissy boys.  Not my scene.

Being clever, I figured out the perfect way to cruise for hot older military men, no matter which port we pulled into, anywhere in the world.  We'd pull into port, and I would head directly for the military gym on base.

I'd work out, and I'd keep a sharp eye out for the man who would shift from the gym floor, to the steam room, to the locker room, and back again.  I'd see him head for the steam room.  I'd get naked and join him.  After "exchanging credentials," to our mutual satisfaction, I'd ask him "Where do all of the gay military guys hang out?"  He'd say something like "The Petty Officer's Club, every Wednesday night!"  I'd thank him, and make plans.

I'd show up, and look at the long tables, crowded with sailors and Marines.  I'd spot the table that did NOT have waitresses sitting on men's laps, earning extra tips by flirting. These girls didn't get ANY tips by flirting with anybody at that one table full of forty or fifty gay men, so they didn't bother.

I'd arrive in full Tom of Finland leather gear, and heads would whip around.  I'd pick up some hot Master Chief, Lieutenant or Chief, and we'd make plans to spend the weekend together.  We'd head off to the provinces on a motorcycle, and stay at a hotel. I'd breed his hungry ass repeatedly, and we'd have us some HONEYMOON, feeding each other delicious local food, getting drunk, and going back to fucking at the hotel.

I did this dozens of times, with a different man each time.  I was just FINE with being a Butterfly.  Noooo problem.

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