Among all the literature published on gays in the military, Steven Zeeland’s first book remains one of a kind. Barrack Buddies and Soldier Lovers is a raw, unsanitized personal record of conversations the author had with young soldiers and airmen stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. Zeeland’s intimate involvement with these men enabled him to document in honest, visceral terms the day-to-day reality of gay military men’s lives and how they work, play, and, in many instances, how the military actually helped them come out.
Ironically, despite the military’s antigay policies, these men found that military service placed them in environments where they had to come to terms with their erotic feelings for other men, and sent them overseas to places where they found greater freedom to explore their sexuality than they could have back home. While a few of Zeeland’s buddies were targeted for discharge, most portray an atmosphere of sexually tense tolerance and reveal a surprising degree of openness with straight co-workers and roommates.
The 16 fascinating interviews in Barrack Buddies and Soldier Lovers challenge popular assumptions and stereotypes about gay men in the military and provide significant information on:
gay military sexual networks
male sexual fluidity in barracks life
strategies for survival as a gay or bisexual male in the U.S. military
attitudes toward the gay ban
The casual, conversational structure of Barrack Buddies and Soldier Lovers makes it a richly entertaining read. No other book provides such a warm and intimate portrait of the lives of young gay soldiers and airmen.