Monday, November 30, 2015

Service With a Smile

We all have heard the horror stories of being gay in the military -- before and after Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But if "Private Benjamin" taught us anything, it's that a fish-out-of-water story can be funny, as Greg Cope White's "The Pink Marine: One Boy's Journey Through Boot Camp to Manhood" makes abundantly clear.

 He writes:
My book is a humorous look at a serious time. It's about my stint as a gay teenager in pre-DADT Maine Corps. Trust me, I shouldn't have been in there, but the military turned out to be an incredible gift for me. Kirkus pointed out that I give a "surprisingly reverent view of the Marine Corps and military service." My publisher bought the book because it was the first memoir that put military service by a gay man in a positive light. I lied and cheated to get in the Marines; technically I was a terrible employee. But they were wonderful to me. That's sadly not everyone's story, but it's mine.
Order HERE.

When Greg Cope White's best friend tells him he is spending his summer in Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, all Greg hears is "summer" and "camp." Despite dire warnings from his friend, Greg vows to join him in recruit training. He is eighteen, underweight, he's never run a mile-and he is gay. It's 1979-long before Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and with no LGBT rights in place in most states, and the Marines having a very definite expulsion policy in place for gay people when it comes to military personnel, will Greg even survive? The Pink Marine is the story-full of hilarity and heartbreak-of how a teenage boy who struggles with self-acceptance and his sexuality and doesn't fit the traditional definition of manliness-finds acceptance and self-worth in Marine Corps boot camp. Greg's sheltered life has not prepared him for military service. At first he struggles to keep up, and afraid his secret will be discovered. But midway through, the desire to survive and become a Marine trumps fear. He learns that everyone comes into the service feeling "different"; possibly prejudged for the color of their skin, their weight, their poverty-some have even chosen boot camp over jail. In this land before Gay Pride became almost a national holiday, can a flighty, 112-pound, effeminate Texan transform into one of the few, the proud, the Marines?

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