British Army Magazine Features Openly Gay Soldier on Cover Next to Word 'Pride'
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This month, for the first time in its history, the cover of the British Army's official publication Soldier magazine shows Trooper James Wharton -- openly gay -- clad in his dress uniform, complete with Iraq medal, next to the headline "Pride." It is the most obvious sign that almost a decade after the military lifted the ban on homosexuality it is finally comfortable with its new clothes.
British servicemen and women now march at Gay Pride in uniform, all three services have become Stonewall diversity champions and a few months ago the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt made history when he became the first army chief to address a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender conference. "Respect for others is not an optional extra," he said.
According to the article, senior British officers have been "quietly" advising senior American officers on how America can change DADT and ensure a similar success.
The importance of a policy and culture in which gay servicemembers can serve openly, important to both the servicemembers themselves and to the public they protect, is made plain in the story of another soldier who never had the opportunity Trooper Wharton had.
In the genteel atmosphere of the Coldstream Guards' officers' mess, Lieutenant Mark Wakeling was known as "thug". Amongst his fellow guardsmen, he prided himself on being the toughest, the fittest and the most aggressive.
He not only laughed at homophobic jokes – he was the "straightest of the straight" amongst the young officers. When one of his platoon admitted to being gay, he immediately started the discharge process.