Captain Eric: Marines Like to be Looked At – 03
Z: Would you say you enjoyed boot camp?
E: No. I counted down the days. Nobody likes boot camp. Anybody that says they liked boot camp is lying to you.
Z: Did you ever become really depressed or despondent about it?
E: Oh yeah. I was depressed a lot, simply because I missed . . . just the normal stuff. But as soon as you get done with boot camp, you miss —
I went back to college. I was dating this girl. Every once in a while you would see a Marine that had just graduated from boot camp. Whenever I saw a Marine in charlies, I would go up and talk to him. Just because of that bond that was there. My girlfriend’s like, “What do you guys do this for? How come every time you see a Marine you gotta go up and talk to him?” And I thought that was the stupidest question. How do you explain that to somebody? You can’t. Here’s a Marine; this kid’s just graduated from boot camp, and he’s overwhelmed by the world. I wanted to go up and talk to him, and tell him, “Hey, there’s lots of Marines out here; we’re all here for each other.” That we can count on each other. But at boot camp, when you’re going through the process, there’s nothing enjoyable about it. The only things you look forward to are taps and chow.
Z: Were you ever physically struck in boot camp?
E: No, I wasn’t. We were in second battalion, [which] had a reputation for being more . . . politically correct, simply because we were the closest to the headquarters building; if there were ever any visitors on the base, they would bring them over to us. Third battalion was way out in the boonies; they’ll tell you that they were hit and all this stuff. Because there was nobody there to witness it.
All throughout high school I always had the best looking guy in class as my best friend. That’s the way I wanted it. I wanted a best friend just like David and Jonathan in the Bible. I remember praying, when I was a young kid, asking the Lord to give me that. . . . In periods of mental weakness I would allow myself to picture lying naked side by side with him. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I would just totally —
[Makes sound of despair.] The guilt — I can’t even describe. And I wanted to go to the dean and confess what I was thinking and see if I could get some help. In fact, at one point I was walking over to his office, and somehow got sidetracked. Thank God I did. So, I put it out of my mind and kept thinking: once I meet the right girl . . . And going to boot camp and being in the reserves didn’t have much of an effect on it at first. I dated a lot of girls. I was never really serious with any, but I had a lot of female friends; a lot of short term relationships and long term friendships.
The first time I had sex was very much an accident. The timing —
I don’t know if it was coincidental, but it was the day after I got commissioned. I graduated from college; it was three weeks before I reported to active duty. I had a party. Everyone was really drunk. Most of the people left. We were just really horny, this guy and me, and we had sex.
Z: What kind of sex?
E: Everything. Hot and heavy. It was twenty three years of pent up frustration. We had anal sex, we did everything short of bondage. We would probably have done that if we had hand cuffs and leather.
Z: Did you kiss?
E: No, that’s — Okay, yeah, we did not kiss.
We did it once. Then about an hour later we did it again. The first time was his initiation; the second time was mine . . . I wanted to stay there [with him]. But as soon as we were done the second time he let me know that that was it. He wanted me to get away.
The next day — I never felt so guilty in my life. I wanted to talk to somebody about it. When I got a chance to talk to this guy about a week later, he said, “Don’t ever bring it up again.” And then I was off to see the world in the Marine Corps.
I went to Quantico, and suddenly I’m starting to notice things I hadn’t noticed before. I realized, God, if I had done this, there’s no telling who out here has done what. I started noticing one lieutenant in particular. But nothing ever happened. . . .
About a year later I was at an Army base. I was in the gym, there was this guy in the jacuzzi with me, and suddenly he started touching me. I thought, oh great; I know what this means. But I didn’t move my leg. And he started giving me a handjob there in the jacuzzi. He was an Army E-4. He’s like, “You want to come over to my house?” I went over to his house about three times. Until my guilt finally got the best of me again.
Once I went to the gay bar in my home town. I just went in there to see what was there. Kind of like how I joined the Marines; I went in the reserves to see what it was like, and I liked it so I went full-time. I went in this bar to see what it was like, and totally hated it; I left thinking, “Good. Now I know I’m not gay, ’cause I hated this gay bar.” That solved it in my mind for a while.
I went to Okinawa. I got a chance to go to the Philippines before [the U.S. bases] closed. I said, “I’m gonna have sex with a woman and prove to myself that I’m straight.” It didn’t work. I thought: “I’m not even gonna think about this. I’m not gonna deal with it.” And on Okinawa you really don’t have to. It’s not constantly in your face; you’ve always got the out of, “Well, there’s only Asian women here; there’s all these men and no women, therefore I don’t have to deal with my thoughts.” And I just concentrated on my job, and started drinking a lot. Put on weight. Then right before I came back to the States — It was the ninety two election, gays in the military was a big issue, and I started thinking about it a lot. That was when I was at my most homophobic. I said, “Gays don’t belong in the military. They have no place in the military.”
Z: You said those things to other military people?
E: Oh yeah. I was homophobic, and yet I was offended by other people’s homophobia. And eventually all of this coming together, and knowing I was coming back to the States — I thought, “I’m twenty five years old. I’m gonna have to settle down; people back home, by now they’re already on their second marriage. What do I want to do?” And the thought of — The whole family thing just made me shudder. It repulsed me. I mean, I love the family, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t want to be a father or a husband. So I looked in the mirror, and I said, “Eric, you’re a faggot. Accept it. You’re a homosexual.” And the weight of the world instantly came off my shoulders.
I knew when I left Okinawa I could request North Carolina or California, and the thought of requesting California never entered my mind, because I figured I [had to] request the East Coast [in order to] be near my family. About six months before I left, the monitor from Washington, D.C. was on Okinawa, and he said, “Tell me right now if you want to go to East Coast or West Coast, and I can guarantee it to you,” and I just said: “West Coast.” As soon as I said it I thought, “Why the hell did I say California?”
Z: So this for you is the gay coast?
E: Oh yeah. [Laughs.] I remember landing at LAX, thinking: “There’s a whole gay world right near this airport, and I want to be a part of it.”
I didn’t know where to go out here. I went up to the Boom Boom Room in Laguna Beach, but I didn’t see any other Marines there. And at this point I guess I was looking for other gay Marines. That’s what I wanted to find. Just because I figured they would be masculine. Most of the guys I met at the bar that night were the stereotypical effeminate gay man, and I was not attracted to that at all.
I went out to the Brass Rail. There were quite a few military guys in there that night. And there were these women on stage, and I thought, “Whoa, I thought this was a gay bar. Why is it advertised in the gay magazines?” Well, I spotted this really good looking blond, blue-eyed young Marine. He was obviously a Marine. He was there with a buddy, and his buddy was actually pretty good looking, too. I went up and started talking to him. I asked him, “Well, what are the other bars in this area like?” “Oh, they’re gay too! Why do you ask?” “Oh. So this is a gay bar?” “Yeah, what were you thinking?” I said, “Why are there all these men watching these women on the stage?” And they just started laughing. “Look again.” I realized what was going on, and it was hilarious. From then on I had a good time. Through those guys I started meeting other guys.
Z: And you know quite a few gay Marines now.
E: Yeah. I’ve had this group of friends now for about a year and a half.