Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Gay Culture Thrives at West Point

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, despite “don’t ask don’t tell,” has its own unique gay culture, one in which gay cadets use secret words, societies, and meetings to stay in the closet and avoid discharge. Katherine Miller resigned from the academy recently after blogging anonymously about being a lesbian there as “Private Second Class Citizen,” and her writing shed light on the hidden culture. Life at the school is like “living in a snow globe,” one cadet says, because the cadets all live together in one building and eat together at meals. But cadets can use weekend passes to go to Manhattan gay bars or other college parties. Gay cadets need a “really finely tuned gaydar,” and asked coded questions like, “Are you in the family?” Sexual relationships are hidden in public with forced casualness. One gay graduate says there’s one perk to all the secrecy: it prepared her for adopting a covert identity for jobs in intelligence.