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Don’t ask, don’t make out in the barracks

4 February 2010

With the United States finally coming to its senses, and realizing that gay soldiers have been around as long as there have been soldiers, maybe it’s time to review the rules of military conduct for soldiers and sailors and air(wo)men here in Mexico.

While, as Christian Rea Tizcareño wrote in October 2007 for Letra S (my translation)

At present homosexuals in the armed forces of Mexico are anonymous and unquantifiable. Official pronouncements and military law does not take homosexuality into consideration, and the silence contributes to evading federal laws against discrimination. The hierarchy and hyper-masculinity that dominates military culture minimizes, excludes and is pejorative towards emotional attachment between persons of the same gender, while barracks life is rife with overlooked homoerotic expression…

… it’s equally true that what’s considered “gay” by officialdom is — as  in a lot of countries — effeminacy.  Mexican military people, like military people everywhere, try to go with the “kick ass and take names” image, and sometimes to resort to “filters” based on stereotypes.  While of course there are “kick ass and take names” gays,  military organizations are huge bureaucracies, and not every task requires Rambo.  As one officer put it,  “Look, we know the cook is a screaming fag …  but everybody appreciates his cooking.”

In other words, if you are a “straight acting” healthy, well-knit gay lad — and are drafted (and Mexico has compulsory service) — you’ll probably not be a cook or a medic or a clerk — and, likely as not, just as appreciated or unappreciated as any other soldier.

I can’t speak for the Mexican soldier, but it doesn’t seem that the gay soldiers are in hiding.  The very model of the macho Mexican soldier, Porfirio Diaz, had a villa in Cuernavaca villa that is a dance club now.  It’s kind of an elegant place … attracting juniors, students and artsy types, as well as its intended clientele, gay men.  And, being straight directly across the highway from the military base, it is full of soldiers on the weekends.  They’re not all with girls, and guys don’t go on their own to gay bars looking for girls… and they are seen… and nobody seems to be upset about it.

Same thing with the gay clubs in Veracruz, but that’s a Navy town.

Anyway, it’s not a major factor in Mexican military thinking.  The Army used to boot out HIV-positive servicemen (which is not necessarily an indication of sexual orientation), but that practice was ended by the Supreme Court in 2007. As it is, the only sexual restrictions on same-sex activity in the Mexican military code is that one can be busted in rank for moonlighting as a prostitute (given the low pay for the rankers, a bigger temptation than one might think) and nookie in the barracks can get you a day in the brig.

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