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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Sweet Spot: Fleet Week Makes S.F. Frisky

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM

sweetspotheader.jpg

click to enlarge FROM THE ST. LOUISE GAY HISTORY PROJECT
  • From the St. Louise Gay History Project

Who can resist the charms of a young man in uniform who is ready to roar due to being cooped up for months and calls you Ma'am? Not I. And I am not alone. Fleet Week exploded on the streets of North Beach last weekend, packing the bars, hotels, and strip clubs with sailors and the ladies who love them.

Lots of ladies. So many, in fact, that there was hot competition for those men in uniform -- or at least so says Brian Moylan on Gawker.com in his how-to guide for nabbing a Fleet Week sailor. He advised that, "a little bit more cleavage and a shorter skirt than usual should do the trick. And heels. Don't forget the heels. Get all done up in your girlie finest and show lots of skin."

Moylan had bad new for the gay and bi boys however:

"It's still kind of against the rules for gay men to serve openly, and it's just the law of averages that the majority will be hunting for lady tail. (And for those who are 'heteroflexible,' they've been beating off with bunk mates for months, so it's time to flex their hetero muscles)."

This is an interesting point because this is the first Fleet Week since the end of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Hoorah and snap! So now boys can be boys with boys and wear their Navy stripes with pride.

But let's not forget about the girls.

I have seen many a Fleet Week, here and in New York, and those flared trousers that cling oh so sweetly were most often wrapped around a cock. But this year -- surprise! -- many of those fine visiting seafarers were women -- and women of color at that.

IN NOVEMBER 1944, HARRIET IDA PICKENS AND FRANCES WILLS GRADUATED FROM THE NAVAL RESERVE MIDSHIPMEN'S SCHOOL (WOMEN'S RESERVE) AT NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS. COMMISSIONED AS WAVES OFFICERS, THEY WERE THE FIRST FEMALE AFRICAN-AMERICAN U.S. NAV
  • In November 1944, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Wills graduated from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (Women's Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts. Commissioned as WAVES officers, they were the first female African-American U.S. Nav

So what is the experience like for them? Are they greeted with calls of, "Hey sailor, looking for a good time?" and whisked off to wild parties to be treated to free lap dances? Sadly, not so much. Despite the fact that almost one in five active-duty members of the Navy are women, according to a New York Times article by Ashley Parker, ""when they arrive for Fleet Week, their experience diverges somewhat from that of their male shipmates."

Namely: There are a bevy of beauties offering themselves up to the military men -- some even put ads on Craigslist -- but, says Master-at-Arms Third Class Alyssa Saple, 20, of Orlando, Fla., in the same article, "What about the hot guys? I want hot guys."

And some surely want hot women. Being in the armed forces is hard enough without also being queer. But there is hope. Stannous Flouride, a longtime social observer in the city, invites those female sailors to the Castro.

"It would be great to see a few in uniform there, and we know they wouldn't be able to buy a single drink for themselves," Flouride says.

Ahoy!

FROM THE FILM ANCHORS AWEIGH
  • From the film Anchors Aweigh

Post script: In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched Fleet Week, a spectacular display to promote the expanding U.S. Navy. But since then, it has become a national phenomenon, partly for its call to admire the armed forces but mainly as a famous week of free wheeling, drunken, sex-soused freedom. It has been immortalized in the 1945 Hollywood film Anchors Aweigh, The Broadway show On the Town, and by those horny gals on Sex and the City. It should also be noted (and many a gay and bi man would agree), that having a turn on for sailors does not necessarily imply having a turn on for the military.

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The Sweet Spot is a blog column about alternative sexuality by Ginger Murray who is also the editor of Whore! magazine. Check back next week for more.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Ginger Murray

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