Apr 4, 2013

Join the Army: Military Beefcake

When I was growing up, it was assumed implicitly that I would go to work in the factory the day after my high school graduation.  No one in my family had ever gone to college; it was simply unthinkable. So when I brought up the subject in the spring of 1976, I heard:
1. "You think we're rich?"
2. "Colleges are full of atheists and Catholics.  They'll brainwash you."
3. "Why do you want to waste your time with more schooling?  You're smart enough to work in the factory right now."
4. "If you don't want to work in the factory, why not join the army or the navy?  You get three square meals a day."




Could I embark on a military career?

The idea wasn't entirely half-baked.  The Vietnam War was over.  I wasn't aware of the existence of gay people yet, so of course I wasn't aware that they were banned from the U.S. military.  And I had seen ample military beefcake.


The Navy Way (1944): as the new recruits strip, a prissy queen gazes longingly at the muscleman beside him.  The muscleman obligingly flexes.





Sammy Jackson posed semi-nude in the gay-themed Physique Pictorial before going on to star in the tv version of No Time for Sergeants.














In 1969, the Here's Lucy gang visited the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to see about getting Craig (Desi Arnaz Jr.) admitted.  Lucy accidentally sets off a fire alarm, and a dormitory full of cute guys rushes out, wearing pajamas, bathrobes, and underwear.

Then there was Ensign Pulver, McHale's Navy, Gomer Pyle USMC, South Pacific....


The Dell comics Four-ColoCadet Gray of West Point interspliced pictures of real cadets with comics about historic battles.

But I didn't quite have the physique of those cadets, and when I took the Strong Occupational Interest Inventory during my junior year, "soldier" was at the bottom of the list, along with "police officer." I was closely matched to historian, journalist, mathematician, and lawyer, so I redoubled my efforts to convince my parents to let me go to college.