Looking and acting the part: gays in the armed forces: a case of passing masculinity

McGhee, Derek (1998) Looking and acting the part: gays in the armed forces: a case of passing masculinity Feminist Legal Studies, 6, (2), p. 205.


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In this paper I explore the gaps within the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) discursive deployment of the incompatibility of homosexuals to service in the British Armed Forces. My primary sources are the MoD's internal review of this homosexual exclusion policy, the results of which were published as the Report of the Homosexuality Policy Assessment Team (1996), and the Reports of the House of Commons Select Committees on the Armed Forces Bill (1995-1996, 1990-1991 and 1985-1986). In this paper, I expose the presence of homosexuals in the Armed Forces who are "other" to the MoD's discursive deployments. These homosexuals are non-disruptive to the Armed Forces homosocial habitus, through the technique of passing as assumed heterosexuals, within this context. I proceed to show how this passing is finding its way into official policy. The US Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is one rather inadequate example of this. However, during the 1995-1996 Select Committee, Stonewall proposed a policy, along the lines of the Australian Defence Forces' 'Code of Guidance' which is a uniform code dealing with all forms of sexual misconduct. I also discuss two policy initiatives which are being developed within the MoD, both of which can be described as passing policies. One of these policies as reported in a Sunday Times article (5 April 1998), is being developed separately by the Army. This is a paper mainly about tactics of survival in hostile spaces. The approach I develop in this paper can be described as Queer Praxis rather than Queer Legal Theory.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0966-3622 (print)
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ePrint ID: 33889
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 22:14
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/33889

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