Wednesday, 11 January 2012

RAF Recruiting - Hardly a Lesbian Spank Inferno...

One of the authors favourite TV shows is the superb comedy 'Coupling', which at times neatly sums up many of lifes mysteries, including why men like watching porn with lesbians in (the aforementioned 'lesbian spank inferno'). However, tempting as it is to discuss in depth this issue, instead tonight the author wants to raise frustrations over the reaction to the news that the RAF has been nominated as the UKs most lesbian friendly recruiter.

Ignoring the surprise the author felt at the news that such an award even existed, there has been a predictable reaction in some areas, with people getting on with the usual round of comments that the RAF (and wider services) are worse off as a result of taking homosexuals, that it sums up all that is wrong with management priorities and that Trenchard must be spinning in his grave etc.

As ever this sort of story seems deliberately designed to inflame peoples opinions - the concept that the MOD is more focused on being a good employer for Lesbians than it is about sending brave Jimmy his body armour and personal helicopter. There must clearly be an agenda, doubtless put out by bed wetting civil servants on a mission from Brussels to destroy the armed forces ahead of the EU putsch (or some similar nonsense).

The reality is that this award owes nothing to the RAF appointing someone as SO2 'Lesbians, Recruiting Of, Policy Officer' and telling them to win the award or face being the next 'SO2 South Shetlands Liaison Officer' for the rest of their career, but everything to do with the fact that since the ban ended back in 2000, the armed forces as a whole have just cracked on and made people of all colours, backgrounds orientations and religions feel they can apply to join the forces and represent their nation.

The RAF was nominated for this award by the readers of a lesbian / bisexual magazine (a regular audience of 140,000 people). Not by the MOD shoving large brown envelopes of cash to desperate editors to persuade them that we have changed. This is the result of people thinking that our attitudes have changed and that we represent something different now.

In todays society people are ever more tolerant of allowing people express who they are and who they want to be sexually. It is possible that many people who have exceptional talents and who previously wanted to join, but felt they couldnt due to their orientation now feel able to enter the forces and do good work. This is the key point - we as an organisation are in a battle for talent, and its getting ever more difficult. The sort of person we need to recruit now has got to be smart, clever, good with technology, able to handle some incredibly complicated kit and be prepared to make life or death decisions which if they get wrong will see them on the front page of the news, and possibly on trial for War Crimes. We're not in the age of a strategic captain, we're in the age of a Strategic Private - one wrong action, one wrong judgement or one mistake will see someone castigated. We have to ensure that we get the best possible people in to prevent these situations ocurring in the first place.

Its not good enough to turn around and say  sorry to the 140,000 lesbian readers of G3 magazine that no matter how skilled or technical they are, we don't want to recruit them because of their sexual preferences. If we don't take maximum use of the workforce in this country, if we don't try to ensure that people feel they can work for us, then we are ultimately only hurting ourselves. We have to seek every avenue to bring new people into the service with the skills needed to keep this country safe. If that means that the publicity from this award nomination helps encourage bright programmers, linguists or nuclear engineers who happen to be Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual to apply to join, then that is a result as it helps increase personnel in critical shortage areas. One major reason for allowing women into the submarine service is almost certainly to help broaden the pool of potential nuclear engineers who can serve at sea.

The author has always found the attitude of some in society towards the presence of gays in the forces to be extremely odd. Many people protest loudly that its just not good enough, that there is no guarantee that in the event of a crisis that their mind won't be on the job, and that its just not acceptable letting gay men see other men naked, or that they won't behave appropriately.

Humphrey has served overseas in both TELIC and HERRICK (the joy of being a reservist). Along with many friends, he has been in some fairly dodgy situations, and had things land close to him that could have easily got him killed. To his knowledge, neither the author, nor his acquaintances have ever been propositioned by a same sex serviceperson during an IDF or mortar attack, or during a patrol outside the wire. Maybe the author is just losing his sex appeal  or maybe its because its the sort of ridiculous stereotype promulgated by people who don't actually know what they are talking about.

Similarly, having seen the conduct of people of all services  and all ranks in the forces on runs ashore, it is clear that straight people hardly have a moral high ground to stand on when it comes to innapropriate, and unprofessional conduct. Do homosexual members of HM Forces misbehave when ashore and act inapropriately - probably. Do heterosexual members of HM Forces do the same thing - absolutely.

Finally, given the near fetish like obsession in some quarters of the forces for cross dressing, Humphrey has always failed to understand the insecurity from some folk outside the forces who feel that the presence of homosexuals will somehow undermine moral standards. A dress is a dress is a dress darling, no matter whether you're male, female, or a little green man from mars...

So to sum up, Humphrey is not quite sure what all the internet rage is really all about. It looks like a storm in a teacup by people who don't understand that there is a vast difference between perception and reality, and that the RAF should rightly be proud that a section of community who until a few years ago were officially forbidden from joining, should now see them as a superb employer of choice.

However, it should be noted that while the world is a lot more PC, the author did have to do a double take today when the story on the MOD intranet about new videos showing support opportunities for veterans was posted next to the story about being nominated for this award. It did take a few seconds for him to realise that the RAF has not posted new videos about opportunities for lesbian recruits - note to self, next time read more slowly...


  1. A low brow reply.

    Replacing the horrible hairy KF shirt with a cotton one (Huzzah!)... it's the end of the army as we know it.

    No longer being able to lock soldiers up for un-ironed trousers/dirty's the end of the army as we know it.

    Letting poofs in the forces ... it's the end of the army as we know it.

    etc, etc...

    Seems to be doing okay so far.

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