My uncle's a former military officer. He didn't look the part. He was slim and far from being stern, he looked gentle and approachable. He used to call me "bok" when I was little. At first I thought it was a term of endearment from my grandparents' local dialect. They grew up in Bicol, a place I have no memories of visiting ever. Later, I found out that "bok" was how soldiers called each other. He's the only military guy in the family and it was weird that I was sort of groomed to be one myself. My most "remarkable" toddler pictures have me in fatigues and a crew cut. Remarkable only because now, when I look at them, I'd inevitably laugh. The would-be soldier, now... ME. That's why when I got my first job, I felt as if I've gone full circle.
I worked for the military for a year and a half.
It was exciting. In a way, it was rewarding. But as a gay guy in the most macho-chauvinist of institutions, it was inevitable to get sneered at. Worse, everything was behind my back.
I have no pretensions of being butch and I appreciate the respect I've earned from the officers and non-commissioned personnel I worked with. As what Corporate Closet wrote before, regardless of your lifestyle or sexual preference, if you do a good job, people would have little to zero chances of putting you down. The military is no exception. Some officers are progressive but some, well, they choose to keep the military's macho myth. Unfortunately for me, I was a pointed needle scratching their bubble. Once, I learned from a colleague that a certain sergeant tagged me as Facifica Falayfay. God, such an archaic reference! As much as I want to defend the handful of brilliant military people I've met, the many boo boos of their rather unenlightened kin offset the strides they make. Simply put, they're just that: a handful.
Case in point. On my first day at work, the entire office had a briefing on what to do during a forthcoming table top exercise with their American counterparts. Strategies? Check. Administrative arrangements? Check.
"Our OpCen is Room 108 of XXX Building."
And then one of my direct superiors asked:
"Sir, ano'ng floor po iyon?"
My fellow analysts started laughing on our end of the table, open for all the majors, colonels, and generals to see. Being the noob that I was, I tried to contain a chuckle. And then I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?"
Two words Darc: Military Intelligence.