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Coming out to others

Coming out in the forces

The journey to allow LGBT people to serve in the British military has been a long one. In the late 90s Stonewall spearheaded the movement to rescind British military prohibitions against openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. It took over 10 years to achieve this but the ban was lifted in 2000 when a new general code of sexual conduct was introduced.

Scroll through armed forces multimedia media platforms today and they are keen to promote good working conditions for all existing and potential LGBT employees and ensure equal treatment. However, the reality can be very different. For example, if you have come out but are then the victim of bullying then approaching your commanding officer (CO) is unlikely to impress fellow serving soldiers. Challenging underlying cultural and attitudinal values that allow discrimination to flourish simply doesn't change over night, so without diminishing the significant steps the armed forces have taken in recent years it will take time.

Proud 2 Serve provides support, information and networking to LGBT persons serving, ex-serving personnel and their families both at home and abroad. It is a little disappointing there is not more consistency across the Armed Forces as it would appear the Army has a website, the Royal Air Force has a Facebook page, while the Royal Navy (marks 20 years since LGBT ban lifted) has a news article.

UK armed forces recruits to be asked if they are gay The Guardian (2015)
Gays in the military: The UK and US compared BBC News (2010)
How the forces finally learnt to take pride The Independent (2009)

 On the same side: homosexuals during the Second World War History Extra (2014)

Sexual orientation and the military of the United Kingdom Wikipedia
Sexual orientation and military service Wikipedia

Out In The Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier | James Wharton | Biteback Publishing | 2014
"A heartfelt account of a gay man’s journey from recruit to veteran, as well as a non-judgemental appraisal of an institution’s efforts to move with the times. On both counts it is a worthwhile read." Soldier Magazine

Jeff Shenge: Striking Images of Gay Military | SuchIsLIfeVideos | 15 Nov 2010 3m24s

Free Fall | 2013 | Peccdillo 
Two fellow police officers meet whilst on a training course, one of whom lives with his pregnant girlfriend.
Burning Blue | 2014 | Lionsgate
Based on the 1992 play by DMW Greer about two US Navy pilots and a US Navy accident investigation which becomes a gay witch-hunt during the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era.

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