It only takes a scroll through a few military subreddits to see that army barracks are pretty homoerotic places. From games of “gay chicken” to mini slang dictionaries of platonic, guy-on-guy action (most of which is pretty easily classifiable as sexual assault — the “unwitting blow job” is just one example), it’s not hard to see why Pornhub brings up more than 10,000 results for “gay military.”
But in real life, there’s a long history of LGBTQ+ discrimination to contend with that can make blow jobs on bases far more risky than Pornhub makes it seem. From “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (which allows for the dismissal of gay soldiers) to Australia’s blanket ban on gay soldiers (lifted in 1992), the evidence points toward an overwhelmingly, forcibly heterosexual military environment. As for trans military members, they’re usually made to fight for their rights — as they are currently in the wake of Trump’s crackdown — or unfairly discharged without the opportunity for a fight at all (see: Byun Hui-su in South Korea).
As a result, the world of cruising and hooking up in the military is so shrouded in secrecy that real stories are hard to come by. And without those that we can easily find and verify, we don’t really know what queer hookup and dating culture is like in the armed services. Luckily, however, I found a tiny handful of military men willing to open up about their experiences, sex lives and the trials and tribulations of trying to get fucked on an army base.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to meet gay guys in the military,” says Brent Wolgamott, who served in the U.S. Army as an active duty member from 2000 to 2002, and then in the reserves from 2002 to 2004. “You just had to know where to spot them!” He served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which basically meant that, at least in his unit, he could pursue men nearly as easily as he could back home — so long as he never admitted he was gay. “My drill sergeants definitely knew that I was gay, but I quickly figured that, as long as I didn’t say the words, ‘I am gay,’ they couldn’t kick me out,” he says. “That was the nature of it.”
Of course, this wasn’t the case for everyone. When John, a Canadian military medic, first joined back in 1989, he knew it was illegal to be openly gay. “But I wanted to be a soldier, and I wanted to be a medic,” he tells me, explaining that his naturally “masculine” persona helped him blend in. “A few people I deeply trusted knew, but that was all. I didn’t dare tell anyone else for fear of being arrested or assaulted.”
These fears, however, were realized in 1994, when he was outed by an anonymous source, arrested for being gay and subsequently transferred to another unit by his boss, who called him an “embarrassment.” Death threats, assault and routine bullying ensued, but instead of breaking him down, it turned him into an advocate. Since then, he’s applied for same-sex benefits with his partner, become the first person to raise a Pride flag on a North American military base and played a key part in changing attitudes on his base by convincing his higher-ups to advocate for equality. Today, he says the atmosphere is decidedly less hostile — he’s even been approached by senior leadership interested in making the environment more welcoming.
Despite this societal progress, getting laid on a base is still harder than ever. “It’s double-edged,” says John of meeting other gay guys in the military. “When we find each other, it isn’t always comfortable to hook-up because of concerns of fraternization, or just general awkwardness.” Gay hook-up apps have changed this marginally, but their usage still comes with a risk. Grindr has been used to track down and suspend soldiers in the past, and it was even flagged as a national security threat last year, forcing its Chinese owner to sell it. The reason? Reuters hinted in an article that U.S. service members were creating accounts to hook-up, sparking fears that this data would be laundered, abused and combed for military intel.
There’s not much other than anecdotal evidence of soldiers sending nudes to corroborate these claims — it’s Grindr, not Operation Desert Storm — but it’s worth noting that military bases have been listed on gay-cruising websites as hook-up hotspots in the past.
But even in the fever dream that was life before apps, horny soldiers were using old-school tech like AOL Messenger to find each other. “That’s how I found a ton of guys,” Wolgamott says. “There was a chat room called ‘militaryM4M’, and you could do it by location, so obviously I was looking around Fort Bragg, which is where I was stationed for most of my career.”
AIM was actually how disabled gay veteran Geoff Millard ended up having what is I’m sure a contender for Rowdiest Military Sex of All-Time. He shared his salacious experience a few years ago on a collaborative podcast between Risk! and Bawdy Storytelling, where, with wicked sense of humor and a few juicy anecdotes (“A lot of my friends used to jerk off in Porta-Potties!”), he recalls sneaking off to an internet cafe in 2004 while posted in Iraq. There, he created an AOL account: Armyguy14094.
After a few nights of searching, he arranged a nocturnal hook-up in a rarely used shower area. As discussed with his anonymous date, he went and started washing himself down while he waited. Within minutes, his date had arrived, and after verbally double-checking, slipped into Millard’s cubicle. “I could feel him behind me, pressing into my ass,” he recalls. “I almost came as soon as his cock touched my asshole.”
Soon, though, a mortar round hit and knocked them both back. They had a choice to make: Follow protocol and run to the bomb shelter, or carry on. “Without a word between us, there was this unspoken, ‘well, fuck it, if we’re going to die, we’re going to die fucking,’” he says. And so, fuck they did, before leaving and never seeing each other again.
Another big thing in the world of military gays is the porn-y cliche of the sexually frustrated straight guy, something Wolgamott says he knows all-too-well. He remembers going for a long hike at the end of basic training and sharing a shower with fellow troops — well, the non-homophobic ones — afterwards. He ended up under the falling water with a flirty, cool guy who might have been hetero, but was “so fucking sure of himself, he didn’t give a fuck!” Later that night, they ended up in neighboring bunks. “He’s looking in my direction, and I can tell that he’s fucking horny as fuck. He wants me to suck his dick, so he’s rubbing his crotch and facing me so nobody else can see — he’s definitely teasing me.”
As the lights go out, he gets up to go to the bathroom and turns after Wolgamott, who waits a second and then follows. “The bathroom was totally dark, but I could see which stall he was in and the door was ajar. I went in slowly, and he grabs me by the hair and shoves me on the toilet and puts his fat dick in my mouth, whispering for me to be quiet. Anyway, I blew him, and he came in my mouth in about two minutes. LOL. All he said was ‘Thanks.’”
The night was never mentioned again, but Wolgamott still has his memories: “I will always remember that ‘right out of a gay porno’ time I had with him in the barracks, with our platoon buddies and drill sergeants yards away outside!”
Hook-ups like these offer more than just an illicit thrill, too — especially in Millard’s case. In the podcast, he cites 2013 research that showed that 22 veterans die daily by suicide, and describes a deep, residual trauma triggered by fireworks and explosions. “In the midst of the panic attacks and thinking about suicide,” he concludes, “I remember getting fucked in the ass during a mortar attack.”
In other words, for queer people forced to repress themselves to avoid harassment, these connections can feel like a rare, yet vital moment of genuine intimacy.
Because while there has been some incremental improvement (as John represents), the fact remains that there’s a long way to go. Again, trans service members still risk being banned if they’re honest about their identity — and even those who aren’t out are often blocked when trying to access service records that hide it. Former soldier Necko L. Fanning, now a writer and advocate for equality in the military, also sparked debate last year with a New York Times article in which he recalls Sticky Notes with slurs and death threats being posted to his room. He told, too, of a woman hiding her sexual assault for fear she’d be outed as a lesbian, and an infantryman who drank himself to sleep to numb the pain of shrouding his sexuality.
The normalization of homoeroticism in the military and the pornification of men in uniform only make this more difficult, fueling a frustration that’s lonely at best and soul-crushing at worst. Yet despite this, there remains a glimmer of hope in stories like Millard’s, which demonstrate the genuine magic of these stolen, illicit encounters. After all, in the throes of such hot, clandestine passion, not even a missile strike is enough to halt an orgasm.