What this video showcases is the blatant and seemingly rampant acceptability of homophobia across ranks in the military. This wasn’t a bunch of rogue enlisted soldiers screwing off in their spare time in an immature attempt at entertainment. No, it was a bizarre tirade filled with homophobia and vitriol from a U.S. Naval officer on one of the most powerful ships on the planet. This is a man who had the experience and the rank to know better than to create and distribute such appalling videos. If for some miraculous reason he thought such videos were socially acceptable, this only further highlights elements of a troubling culture that was being fostered on board the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain Honors. This is a man ranked to lead thousands of men and women, lead them into combat, and yet clearly he didn’t see anything socially irresponsible about distributing such material to his crew.
What is more telling though is the outcry of many sailors aboard the ship who defended him in Facebook postings and said the video was a “morale boost.” With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” we as a society are demanding a more tolerant environment in the military. Social practices, such as this video, that have been on some level deemed acceptable within the military are now being challenged. However, these attitudes won’t go away overnight and the repeal of DADT won’t immediately change perceptions. The military is a place of long traditions and ingrained attitudes, so a major cultural shift, especially coming from the outside, takes time. What these videos show is that the homophobia that exists in the military is quite possibly more severe than those not exposed to the military’s culture ever realized. And this incident raises a more fundamental question, whether even though they can now serve openly gay men and women in the military will feel comfortable in this kind of environment? What gay soldier would want to come out of the closet to his peers when a video like Captain Honors’ was being widely distributed and viewed on an aircraft carrier?