Saturday, 12 December 2009

A man in uniform

Two blog entries on one day! Whatever next?! I saw a news story on TV this morning and thought it was worth mentioning.

A 21 year old British soldier called Ben Rakestrow, serving in Afghanistan, is featured in a few newspapers today as the only Out gay guy in the region. I wanted to blog on this topic as I know it's tough to come out and even more so in the environment he is working. He is certainly a brave man in many ways. I love this part of his story...

He told his unit about his sexuality after a trip to a nightclub during pre-deployment training on Salisbury Plain. “The next morning I arrived for the exercise late because we’d had a bit to drink. The lads all asked if we’d had any luck, then at least our late arrival would have been worth it. I just said, ‘His name was Ryan’. Some of their faces dropped and they asked if I was serious. They couldn’t believe it.”

What is great to see is that the newspapers don't go overboard on his sexuality (even the Sun!). A few years ago, such stories would have been littered with innuendo and smutty comments (the Sun is still often guilty of this). The story his all about his courage and his friends. However, the fact that I am commenting on this article at all shows that we have some way to go yet

I hope he gets the support he deserves from his comrades and it appears that he is. He will get some "banter" from his unit, but hopefully in humour and no more than other guys receive. His mates even bought him a pink Zac Efron duvet cover! I somehow couldn't see this happening in the US amry and that concerns me.

To all of you that are coming out to friends and family, my advice is to get on with it. I am guilty of making excuses in the past and even recently but, without doubt, coming out makes life easier. If you are finding reasons not to come out or saying "I'll do it before I am 30" etc, you are never going to do it and you will find more reasons not do come out in the future. You need to make a plan and do it OR decide that you will never tell a specific person and just get on with your life. If you hide behind excuses or timelines, you are just going to stress yourself out. I am trying to be honest with people and I fail sometimes, but being out to my friends and family is more important than I ever thought it could be.

Have a look at this recent blog entry on Crawling Out Of The Closet and I wonder if you agree with me that this guy is very courageous.


  1. Has Barack Obama withdrawn the "don't ask don't tell" policy on homosexuality in the US army yet? If not he needs to get on and sort it. It's a very important thing for him to do.

  2. He's 21, gay, cute and wears a uniform - this could well be my ideal man!

  3. Nice story and hopefully his bravery acts as a beacon to policy makers.

  4. What a cheerful story! I love it! Than kyou for sharing. And yes, indeed the U.S. Army has a lo to learn from many other nations in the world. Not allowing Gays (which there are plenty of in the armed forces) to be free to speak who they are is just dumb!

    Lots of love,

  5. I think homosexuality has been in the forces for longer than anyone has admitted. It should be accepted everywhere like Visa, since it is a way of life, not a disease.
    I honor all warriors, gay or straight. Would it make a difference to you if the guy that saved your life was gay??? I think not!


  6. As an old ex-army man, I can state that the sexual orientation of your fellow soldier didn't matter a whit; what mattered was if they were a good solider... Nothing else.

    Ben, good on ya lad, I would count you as an Oppo....

  7. Yes, it's very heartening indeed to read of him. Strange how during WW2 and a for a few years after, being gay in the British services, even an 'out' gay, was not generally considered a big deal. It's only since the 1950s that paranoia crept in and was to soon prevail - and for the last half-century we've only been trying to recover the position as it was before.

  8. Man I wish I had been Ryan!

  9. He's incredibly courageous.