Monday, February 06, 2006

Rough Boys

Just before the corporate pigskin pig out yesterday, the wife and daughter went to see "Brokeback Mountain," leaving me to watch the game, and the boy to play on his GameCube (he doesn't like football -- what have I done?).

"Enjoy queer cowpokes in love," I said as they left.

"And you enjoy queer jocks in denial," the wife responded, smiling.

Indeed. Doubtless there were a few gay Seahawks and Steelers banging helmets in the big game. How could there not? Law of averages. Of course, the very concept of queer jocks, outside of women's golf and the WNBA, remains insanely taboo, esp when it comes to football, perhaps the most homoerotic American sport there is. But you'll never hear that discussed with any seriousness on sports TV & radio, assuming that the topic arises in the first place. For a good many American sports-loving men, queers are supposed to be girlish, swishy, not physically-ripped trash-talking power hitters in pads. Imagine a bunch of NFL players, some of them All Pros, suddenly coming out. The wounded angry voices of the faithful would saturate sports radio, and sports discussion boards would seethe with hatred and fear. It would do a heavy number on those who paint their faces in team colors and go shirtless at home games. I mean, they might have to explore why they identify so closely with GULP a queer player, and no Reggie White around to have their, umm, back.

All this reminds me of a summer afternoon from my Army days. Returning to the barracks after work, I saw a sign that said "EMERGENCY FORMATION: 1645 HRS. MANDATORY." These were rare, so of course everybody was a bit nervous about what might be coming down. The company assembled in the barracks' rear parking lot. Top (First Sergeant) called us to attention. Rigid silence under a merciless sun. Our commanding officer, a young Captain from West Point, emerged, and told Top to order us to parade rest. Normally our CO was pretty easy going, and his door was always open. But this day he wore a very severe expression. He walked deliberately back and forth in front of the formation for a few minutes without saying a word. Finally, he came to a halt and said:

"As some of you may have already heard, two of your fellow soldiers were found this afternoon having homosexual sex in one of the barracks' showers. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. These men will be dealt with according to military law. But that's not my concern here. What I want to be fully understood by each and every member of this company is this: EVERY MAN UNDER MY COMMAND IS STRAIGHT. THAT IS AN ORDER. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"




Then we were dismissed.

Turns out one of the guys nabbed was considered one of the tougher men on base. Someone you didn't fuck with, as opposed to . . .

I doubt that was the only time two American male soldiers engaged in consensual queer sex. And what swings in the military must certainly swing in the NFL, or at least a small portion of it. A natural expression of Warrior Culture, however muted or denied.