How to survive military service as a homosexual
CARLOS TRUJILLO HERRERA | La Habana | 12 de Junio de 2017 - 10:37 CEST.
"My parents don't know that I'm homosexual. And I don't want them to,
for now, so when I was recruited I didn't say anything," says Ariel, one
of the members of the LGTBI community struggling to survive the machismo
that prevails in the Active Military Service.
"I often get tense because, if someone does something wrong, they ask
him if he's a faggot. They also say that the Army is for real men, and I
wonder what I'm doing here," he adds.
Like the vast majority of Recruits, Ariel would like to be somewhere
else, due to how he is mistreated by the officers. In his case, in
addition to being at the end of the chain of command, there is the extra
pressure of being homosexual.
He has been forced to adapt. The first thing he managed when he entered
the training program was to become an assistant to his company's
lieutenant. Because his family was able to provide some favors (food,
money, clothes, medical shifts) he was spared hours of marching.
He says that he was very afraid of his fellow recruits. The first day
they used the common showers, he remembers, one of the young men got an
erection, for which he was beaten up by the rest. They broke a couple of
his teeth, and an arm.
"When the officer in charge heard about the reason for the attack, he
took care of the matter 'between men' and said: 'You don't have to be
putting up with this faggot stuff.' They transferred the soldier out of
the unit, and that was the end of it."
David thinks he was "pretty lucky". His permanent unit is "very relaxed"
and everyone minds their own business. "Apart from having to put up with
being told to f*** off every time I talk, they leave me alone," he says.
He landed a position in the dining hall and found a partner who shares
his sexual orientation. They get together when they can. "To kill time,"
he says. "I don't think it's going anywhere."
Felipe has to sleep at the end of the barracks and use a mosquito net,
because one of his comrades took the fan he had taken from home.
"I'm afraid to report it because everyone in the unit knows I'm gay," he
explains. "If my mom demands the fan, they will tell her. She's a
Christian and wouldn't accept it."
Felipe has had relations with a couple of soldiers in the unit, "but
they're in the closet. They have girlfriends and hit people, like 'real
men' are supposed to."
Carlos is a lieutenant. Everyone knows he's gay, but no one mentions it
directly. However, "I have to put up with a few things, like extra guard
duty every month."
He says that his companions refuse to stand guard with him, because the
shifts are in an office, late at night. "Most of the time they go to
sleep and I have to stand guard alone."
Although the level of homophobia is high, there exists a curious
phenomenon: homosexuals, once identified, suffer discrimination, but
homosexuality is widely joked about.
Young recruits often say that they are in a prison, and every time a new
one arrives, they touch his butt or pretend to rape him. They also often
hold the new recruit, while they suck his nipples, neck, and ears, and
bite his back. Those who do not go along with the "joke" are harassed
more intensely in the future.
"The best thing is to laugh, say that it was disgusting, and tell them
to all go to hell," says one soldier. "Then they leave you alone."
That is, "macho" men can have fun pretending to be gay, while harshly
discriminating against those who actually are.
Source: How to survive military service as a homosexual | Diario de Cuba