The Military, like the Boy Scouts, still believes in the Church's stereotypes. I was in the Army and met many Gays and Atheists who were very devoted to their country. We just had to put our life and thoughts on hold, and secretly, when possible, meet. That was back in the 50s. Not much has changed. Don't ask don't tell is ridiculous, it does not work, because EVERY body in the military around you WILL tell. Once they snuff the Bible Babble, they will see that it does not make a damn difference who the guy/gal (as Sara Palen would say) next to you with a gun goes to bed with, or that he/she does not believe in silly fairy stories. He/she is there to protect your life, and He/She is just as serious about that as any, jock heterosexual you will ever know.
A long time ago, when the earth was green and dinosaurs lumbered through the fern tree forests, I was a soldier. I was also gay. I was also atheist.
I served in a manner that anyone would consider honorable. I was also very happy. I was not too out about the gay part, because I hadn't figured it out, although guys around me did figure me out. There was some sex, I just didn't understand that there was something 'different' (I know, this is naive). It wasn't a big deal. I was very out about the atheist part, and it seemed like a natural way to think.
There were not issues with unit cohesion. I was in small units in a foreign country, under frequent threat of violence. We were isolated and had limited resources, limited communication with the 'outside world'. The friendships were some of the best of my life, I was happy and had a lot of fun.
When it came time to think about civilian life, I decided that it was time to go to school and move on. My discharge was honorable. I was awarded a couple of honors.
I really think that the homophobia and atheistphobia came along during the Bush years. If not for the republican obsession with religion and gays, we would have full acceptance by now.
I was in the Navy during the 70s and early 80s and was both gay and atheist. But I was closeted. One event in particular contributed to my enduring contempt for the christian church and a not-so-great self-image. I decided to attend church one day for the sole reason of getting something to eat. I had spent my meal allowance and was broke, and a local church offered a meal. As the church bus neared its destination, the driver pulled over and explained to the one black sailor among us that the bible instructed us that the black and white sheep were not to be together. Therefore that sailor would be unable to attend church with the rest of us, though the driver would be happy to drop him at the AME church. That was 37 years ago and I am still ashamed that I said and did nothing. Obviously this doesn't have much to do with the military. There are other, more relevant stories, but they can wait for another day.
I'll tell a story if you will?
I was a medic and travelled around multiple missile bases in Turkey. Every now and then, a medic at one of the bases would go off his rocker, and I would be sent to fill in. I don't know why they went off their rocker and I didn't - except liked the isolation and was happy to be thousands of miles from the town where I grew up.
These places were isolated, 25 to 50 guys, surrounded by Turkish batallions. No wives, girlfriends, or female troops. The American troops would frequently go to the local ... um.... emporiums of entertainment. Consequently, the VD rate was astronomical - about 1/2 of the guys would get something, in their year there. Some nasty stuff, like chancroid and LGV.
I started leaving piles of condoms in the mess hall, the dispensary, the NCO club, and described to all of the guys why they could have permanent damage from these infections. This was pre-HIV. I told them, I didn't care where they went, or what they did, just use condoms. The rate dropped by half.
The chaplain filed a complaint against me, saying that I promoted sexual infidelity. I told him that the guys were going to fuck around and catch diseases, then take them home to their wives, and fuck them up with nasty infections too. My job was to prevent that, and you can't get lonely horny soldiers to keep their hmm hmmm's in their pants for a year. Except I didn't say hmmm hmmm's. I was turned in for cursing out the chaplain.
Fortunately, the unit commander was also an.. um... client of the local facilities. He arranged for me to get cases of condoms at military expense, and our VD rate continued to drop, by 75%.
As a gay guy, there was no local entertainment for me (or I was to naive to know), but I became quite close to some my fellow soldiers, and that was where I learned about sex.