Saturday, 5 March 2011

What shall we do with the bunkin' sailor?

After a long and bitter fight, the ridiculous 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy has been repealed in the US, finally allowing gay and lesbian service personnel to defend their country. Unfortunately, the world didn't change overnight when Obama signed the repeal into law on December 22, 2010.

There's an awful lot of paperwork to be sorted through - regulations have to be drafted, certification needs to be given, and some kicky new outfits should probably be designed. If they're quick, they might be able to get John Galliano for a steal.

More importantly, there's the roll-out of training to consider - the troops need to understand the implications and technicalities of serving alongside their gay comrades. Top of the training agenda needs to be bedroom etiquette, as one unfortunate sailor found out recently.

Petty Officer Stephen C. Jones is facing discharge proceedings after he and another sailor were found in bed together. It's not clear whether any other discharges had taken place in the room - it seems as though a single bed full of seamen is sufficient evidence of Jones having crossed "professional lines".

Jones has defended himself by saying that, although he and his friend were both in their boxer shorts when his roommate walked in, they had not being doing anything untoward. In fact, he insists that they simply fell asleep watching The Vampire Diaries. In retrospect, maybe ESPN would have been a better bet. He might as well have admitted that they'd been enjoying a marathon of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Technically, there are no regulations that forbid sailors from falling asleep in the same bed, although they are expected to "behave professionally in the barracks". According to the men's commanding officer, "The determination was that two sailors sharing the same rack was unprofessional." And everyone knows it's hard to resist a good rack.

Despite the insinuations, this case has little to do with DADT, since neither man had actually been accused of homosexuality. If anything, the reaction to their conduct has more to do with perceptions of what constitutes acceptable male bonding. Maybe if Jones and McGee had displayed a little 'gay panic' at the sudden realisation that they'd fallen asleep together, this whole scandal could have been avoided. After all, it worked for Ross and Joey.

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