The Gay Bomb Proposal - Make Love, Lose War Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Gay Bomb Proposal - Make Love, Lose War

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Men embracing.

The US military is officially ambivalent on the subject of homosexuality. The famous 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was implemented by president Bill Clinton in 1993. It allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces so long as no one found out about their orientation. Oddly enough, the fact that homosexuality in the military had been openly discussed in national politics led to increased paranoia among the aggressively heterosexual majority in the services. It was perhaps a preoccupation with sexuality which led to one of the most bizarre ideas in the history of the US military (and there’s some heavy competition) - the 'gay bomb'.

The US Air Force was considering ways to disrupt enemies by non-lethal means. One list of proposals submitted by Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, is particularly interesting (tellingly, its title was 'Harassing, annoying and "bad guy" identifying chemicals'... no, really). One plan called for the development of a chemical which, when distributed (presumably through a bomb, this being the air force, after all) around a group of enemies, would cause them to attract insects such as bees. Another idea was for a chemical which would enduringly alter a person's smell or appearance, 'making it impossible for them to blend in with the local population'. Yet another proposal was for a chemical inducing bad breath. There were all sorts of ideas for things which would be, in military parlance, 'annoying'. The proposal which received the most attention, however, read as follows:

(3) Category #3: Chemicals that effect human behaviour so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely effected [sic]. One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behaviour. Another example would be a chemical that made personnel very sensitive to sunlight.

Later in the proposal, the chemical causing homosexual behaviour is referred to once more as changing 'human behaviour in ways that would be disruptive to unit morale and effectiveness'. Perhaps not surprisingly, this was one of the principal arguments used by figures opposing the admittance of gays into the US military - that allowing homosexuals into the armed services would disrupt unit morale and effectiveness. In effect, it seems that certain members of the US military, which resisted allowing homosexuals into its ranks, were hoping to cause problems within potential enemy ranks in the same way.

The vision seems to have been one of dropping a 'gay bomb' off an aeroplane (perhaps a futuristic version of the Enola Gay) into an area where the enemy was known to be. The enemies would then, presumably, begin to appreciate the way their comrades held a grenade, drop their weapons and strip down. The US army would then presumably ambush the distracted adversary, and claim a triumph. And for all this the Wright Laboratory only asked for $7.7 million over six years!

The proposal was rejected (before being uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request in 2004). It joined the proud ranks of US military ideas that seem quite stupid in retrospect, such as the CIA's Operation Mongoose featuring plans to make Fidel Castro's beard fall out and Custer's Last Stand in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

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