A Random Memory About Being a Marine in the 1980s

Lt. Garrison paced as he lectured me. I wasn't really listening to the words he was saying; I know they weren't for me. He was doing his best to be seen to chastise three young wayward marines for not checking the list of off-limits bars. That was the arrangement, we had to sit through a sermon on the evils of gay bars and we would be released without our CO's finding out what happened.

And we were all pretty sure we weren't supposed to mention Spitz and I had taken turns fucking his throat while the other two had been going to town on his ass.

But I wondered if the MP's could see the traces of lipstick and glitter on his face. Did they know what was going on? Were we all just going through the motions of some empty ritual to appease the bureaucracy who demanded arrests for moral infractions but at the same time didn't want to lose marines who contributed to the base's bottom line.

Garrison (not his real name) was the twinkiest twink you ever cast eyes on and was a fixture at the local bar. He worked for the base's G-1 (general staff / administration) so was involved in the occasional raids. The bar was officially a "no go" area. Not just this one, but several others in town, but this was the only off-limits queer bar.

The story I heard was back in the day, the people up the chain of command got really freaked out when they heard there were queer marines and tasked a whole department with tracking them down. After a few weeks it became obvious how wide-spread homosexuality in the corps was (I know. Who would have thunk it. Tattooed men who like to travel and hang out in the gym are gay?)

This was before DADT, so policy was set by local commanders. At Lejeune a small bureaucracy grew up around prosecuting queers. Word on the street was if your pro & con (productivity & conduct) marks were good, they mostly didn't mess with you. The "random" raids on the off-limits bars were down to about once per year; if you were in with the right crowd, you got word not to go out a particular night.

Apparently someone changed the night of the raid and forgot to tell Garrison. We were out back in a van when the MPs burst in on a dozen queer marines playing pool and possibly sitting a little too close to each other.

Our plan was initially to get dressed quietly and slip out the back. We had made our escape but someone recognized Garrison and asked if he was in on the raid. Dude must have thought saying "no" was a bad idea so he went along with it. He claimed he caught us bar-hopping heading towards the town's only gay bar.

Turns out it was not that bad of a plan. We supposedly weren't in the bar, only on a random walk around the mean streets of Jacksonville. He later told me he also wanted to keep us close to him to avoid us getting sucked into "the system."

It was a pretty solid plan, all things considered. But it did require keeping my mouth shut while getting a verbal reprimand for doing something less well connected marines were probably getting discharged for.