The top five women’s fashion brands are all selling women’s military gear: Gap, H&M, Dillard’s, J. Crew, and Victoria’s Secret.
That includes gay women’s apparel.
For one thing, gays have always worn military clothing.
“We all grew up with that and we just love the idea of being able to be dressed like a soldier,” says Lacey, a gay women of color who has been in the military since 1997.
But the closet is also a social space, and gay men are more likely to be closeted than straight women.
“You have more freedom to wear what you want, but if you’re closeted, you don’t have the opportunity to wear it,” she says.
So when Gap started selling gay military clothing, “I was really excited because I didn’t know what it would look like.”
Now Gap is the top-selling women’s business.
Gay men have been buying it for years, and there are gay-owned companies that have emerged in the past year, such as J.
Crew and Victoria Secret.
“Gap is an American brand, and the Gay Men’s Chorus has been doing this for the last 10 years,” says Adam, who is openly gay.
“I think they have the best products.”
For gay men, military gear is the way they express their masculinity and power, says John, a 23-year-old gay military officer in uniform who asked to remain anonymous.
“It’s a way to show that you are a real man and not a gay man,” he says.
“If you’re going to show you’re a man, it makes you feel good to wear a suit.”
“We don’t think it’s about the men who wear it, we think it is about the community that is showing up for it,” says Matthew, a 26-year veteran of the military who served in Afghanistan for 10 years and has been openly gay for eight.
He’s now a manager at a retail chain.
The Army has also launched a gay-friendly military store.
“They are doing the same thing we are doing, which is to have a little bit of a gay side to the product,” says Sgt. Chris, a 27-year Army veteran who has served in the U.S. military for 15 years.
Gay troops are also being promoted into leadership positions in the Army and Navy.
In the Air Force, there are plans to open a Gay Male Leadership School.
The U.K.’s National Health Service has been promoting gay male military service since at least 2007, and is also planning a program to train LGBT soldiers.
But gay men aren’t the only people who wear military gear.
In 2014, the Pentagon started a “gay military” program, which would include military chaplains who could “provide support and guidance to young gay men in their transition.”
The program is funded through the Pentagon’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and it is led by retired Lt.
Col. Richard DeWitt, who previously served as the Pentagon chief of staff and chief of the Office of Military Personnel.
The Office of Gay and Lesbian Veterans Affairs has been working to support LGBT troops in their military transition since the early 2000s, when it opened the first LGBT VA facility in Los Angeles.
“The gay military is a legacy for us,” says DeWitte, who retired from the U,S.
Army in 2014.
“When I was a chaplain in Vietnam, I would take care of all the troops and I was always going to the front lines to provide for them.
And the gay military, for me, is an example of how a young man who has a passion for service can come out in a very positive way.”
The gay military doesn’t have to be so inclusive.
In 2015, gay men were promoted into senior leadership positions at two of the nation’s largest defense contractors, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
In 2016, the military opened a new “Gay Army” program in which all troops could choose to wear military uniforms.
The program has been endorsed by the National Gay and Transgender Military Council and has included the appointment of gay male leaders in key positions.
“Our focus is not just on the service of our troops, but we are going to create an environment in which these young men are comfortable,” DeWite says.
And as the military is slowly changing to embrace gay men and lesbians in the future, the gay community is embracing it too.
“For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable with myself and my identity,” says Matt, a 21-year Navy veteran who was in the Navy for seven years and retired from in 2014 after nearly four decades of service.
He now runs a website that helps people “find a great military store that they can buy with a gay male identity.”
The Army also opened a program in 2017 called the Navy Gay Army, which allows gay