Violating Gender Norms in the Canadian Military: the Experiences of Gay and Lesbian Soldiers

TitleViolating Gender Norms in the Canadian Military: the Experiences of Gay and Lesbian Soldiers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationN/A
AuthorsPoulin, Carmen
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Abstract

Militaries are men-dominated and value a heteronormative masculine warrior ideal (Kaplan, 2003). Soldiers, however, are not necessarily heterosexual and men, nor do they always embody the prescribed warrior ideal. How the values related to hyper-masculinity and heteronormativity influence the experiences of gay and lesbian soldiers is an empirical question. In the present study, the Psycho-Social Ethnography of the Commonplace (P-SEC; Gouliquer & Poulin, 2005) methodology was used to investigate how the institutions of heterosexuality and the Canadian military shape gay and lesbian soldiers’ experiences. Interviews with 10 lesbian and 10 gay soldiers were conducted and analysed. The findings reveal that lesbian and gay soldiers face fairly widespread discrimination in the military environment. They must contend with the institutional demands to meet the requirements of a hyper-masculine-heteronormative soldier ideal. Gender differences are highlighted and social policy recommendations are discussed