Brothers and others in arms: Managing gay identity in combat units of the Israeli army

Danny Kaplan, Eyal Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Although policies regarding the enlistment of homosexuals in Western armies have become the subject of a heated debate, their own experiences in the military have received little systematic analysis. The authors examine the experience of gay men in combat units of the Israeli army, as derived from retrospective life stories. The authors found no common adjustment problems related to these men's sexual orientation. At the same time, variable identification strategies with hegemonic masculine military culture emerged. One is engagement and includes identification with soldiery as a test for masculinity, taking part in heterosexual discourse, and an active attempt to develop social ties. The second strategy is compartmentalization, which involves focusing on professional aspects of the military job and building walls in the interpersonal sphere. Consequently, the authors propose that the ties between behavioral adaptation to military service, processes of identification with organizational values, and the acquisition of a particular identity are loosely coupled.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-432
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2000


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