Wednesday, 13 June 2007

The "gay bomb": a myth no more

I always thought the story of a weapon that modifies the sexuality of the enemy America's armed forces was/is interested in was the stuff of conspiracy theorists. I guess I was wrong.

It turns out that the conspiracy theories are indeed true: as recently as 1994 the United States military proposed or looked into a weapon that turned the enemy gay.

Make love not war may be the enduring slogan of anti-war campaigners but in 1994 the US air force produced its own variation on the philosophy.

What if it could release a chemical that would make an opposing army's soldiers think more about the physical attributes of their comrades in arms than the threat posed by the enemy? And thus the "gay bomb" was born. Far from being the product of conspiracy theorists, documents released to a biological weapons watchdog in Austin, Texas confirm that the US military did investigate the idea. It was included in a CD-Rom produced by the US military in 2000 and submitted to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. The documents show that $7.5m was requested to develop the weapon.
Aaron Belkin, director of the University of California's Michael Palm Centre, which studies the issue of gays in the military, said: "The idea that you could submit someone to some aerosol spray and change their sexual behaviour is ludicrous."

The very notion of a "gay bomb" — and the idea that by messing with soldiers sex hormones one could cause them to constantly focus on each other, or have sex or whatever the military thought might happen, instead of fighting the enemy any less than heterosexual soldiers could (more on the issue of homosexuals in the military) — is absolutely mad. This sounds like the work of one of those eccentric Cold War projects — but no, the "gay bomb" popped into one numb-sculled researcher's head one year after Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy came into place (h/t FP Passport). The findings by the Berkely watchdog have been confirmed, then subsequently denied, by the Pentagon.

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