I am going to write something, that no matter how I say it,  will be mis-understood – either because of my inability to articulate it properly or by the reader already having a position that does not comport with what I am saying.

Far too many on the right say that having gays/lesbians serve openly will have a negative effect on unit cohesion.  First, I do not believe that at all.  This is just about a bunch of homophobic, old, white men who do not have a clue as to how enlisted people react to one another.

But, I am not going to comment about unit cohesion as it applies to lesbians and gays.  I want to go back to an earlier era and comment on how the integration of women into a previously all-male environment strained an otherwise settled environment.

I was in the U.S. Navy from 1958 – 1979.  During that time, I never knew a person that I knew or suspected that had homosexual tendencies.  But I was there during the introduction of female enlisted sailors into a command that had been exclusively composed of men.

Two anecdotal stories.

To understand this story, it is helpful to be familiar with the Navy.  This event occurred at the flight operations desk (where pilots file their flight plans) at NAS Quonset Point in 1971.

Naval Aviators (pilots), especially those that fly single-seat jets and are carrier qualified (think Tom Cruse in Top Gun) have an ego that fills all available space around them.  I was visiting, with another Chief, the Master Chief that ran the Air Traffic Control operation at NAS Quonset.  There was an attractive young WAVE working the flight desk.  Two young lieutenants came up to file their flight plans.  They chatted-up the young WAVE.  They continued to talk to the young lady far longer than was necessary to file their flight plans.

Finally, the old Master Chief Air Controlman sauntered over to the lieutenants and said, as only a Navy Chief can, “Excuse me, sirs, are you gonna fuck her or am I gonna work her?”

A quick, “She’s all yours, Chief” was heard as they quickly departed.

These were 24 – 25 year old officers.

The year was 1973.  I was attached to the Navy’s Operation Deep Freeze.  Deep Freeze had never had any female sailors – officer or enlisted.  In the summer of 1973, one female officer and six female enlisted were assigned, and made the deployment, to Antarctica in October 1973.

And, the problem boiled down to one sentence – neither sex knew how to act professionally in a mixed-sex environment.

Male sailors wanted sex.  Some female sailors were willing to trade sexual favors for preferential treatment.  Some male sailors were willing to make that trade.

That was in the 1970s. I have been retired from the Navy for 31 years. I am quite sure that the Navy has solved the problem of a close quarters, mixed sex working environment a long time ago.

If there is a problem, and there will be isolated problems, here and there,  having heterosexual and homosexual people working in the same type close quarters work place is an eminently solvable problem.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Issues, Politics

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