Buried in the last few paragraphs of a long story, the UK's Daily Mail quotes a friend of BRADLEY MANNING thusly: "‘He was different from other kids. He was interested in girls but he
could never really get them to be interested in him. When he was 13, he
told me he was gay.’"
Over the weekend, the British Daily Telegraph described Manning as "openly homosexual," and delved into his Facebook account to retrieve a status update referring to "an ex-boyfriend" as well as a photo of Manning, at a gay-rights rally, holding a placard that demands LGBT rights on the battlefield.
The American mainstream media has carefully tip-toed around the question of Manning's sexuality -- although blogs including BOING BOING have for at least a month openly asked whether the transcript of Manning's IM chats (the ones that got him arrested by the army on suspicion of delivering tens of thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks) indicate that Manning is transgendered. The same Boing Boing post questions whether Manning's sexuality led to his downfall, via his trust of the Boston native and famous hacker in whom Manning confided, and who later turned Manning in to the Feds:
"Did Manning, in isolation and distress while stationed in Iraq, reach
out to Adrian Lamo in part because Manning believed Lamo —whom the internet-searchable public record shows has been an active member of the LGBT community—would be empathetic to a fellow geek going through a gender identity crisis?"
In June, Gawker -- citing the GLBT links on Manning's Facebook profile -- asked pretty much the same question: "Was WikiLeaker Bradley Manning betrayed by his queer identity?"
The Daily Mail's article was ostensibly about the suffering of Manning's English mother -- who was questioned by FBI agents over the weekend -- but the Mail also took the opportunity to run a big photo of Manning being embraced by Tyler Watkins, one of Manning's openly-gay Boston friends who has reportedly been questioned by the Army in recent weeks. Watkins, a Boston University student and former marketing intern at EDGE who was quoted in Wired magazine's original scoop, is now politely declining all media inquiries. His blog -- "Swish Army" -- identifies him as a "queer army wife": "It wasn’t until I join the ranks of all the other gay military spouses
that I really ever understood how unjust our country’s policies towards
the queer community in the military," he writes. "Not only am I fed up with DADT but I’m sick and tired of the Obama
administration’s failure to serve and uphold the rights of ALL citizens
of the US."
Why is any of this relevant?
Because the right wing is already using Manning's sexuality to bash the idea of gays in the military. And because it's probably going to get a lot worse.
Here's Right Side News, in a post titled "Military Homosexual Scandal Tied to WikiLeaks Treason":
The revelations of Manning's openly pro-homosexual conduct suggest that
a more liberal Department of Defense policy, in deference to the wishes
of the Commander-in-Chief, had already been in effect and has now
backfired in a big way. The result could be not only the loss of the
lives of U.S. soldiers, as a result of the enemy understanding U.S.
intelligence sources and methods, but damaged relations with
Afghanistan and Pakistan and a possible U.S.military defeat in the region as a whole.
In other words: look for the right to spin WikiLeaks not as a free-speech debate or a referendum on a failed US policy in Afghanistan but as a referendum on Don't Ask Don't Tell, and a horror story about the treasonous collaboration of a venegeful queer, an ineffectual president, and the liberal media.
Here's some more from Right Side News:
The dramatic revelations about Manning's circle of friends and
associates suggest that, rather than repeal the homosexual exclusion
policy, as Obama is demanding, the prohibition on homosexuals should
have been more strictly enforced and that it should be strengthened
today. What's more, it is clear that Manning should have been expelled
from the Armed Forces long before he allegedly did his damage to U.S.
national security . . . This is important because the Manning scandal provides ammunition to
those who want to maintain the exclusion of homosexuals from themilitary
. It proves in dramatic terms that homosexuals with gender identity
disorders are potentially unstable and that their strange sexual
preferences can subvert the military mission and cost lives.
Is this a case where the MSM played its sensitivities way too straight? By not bringing up Manning's sexuality, the New York Times and the AP likely hoped to prevent exactly the kind of vicious stereotyping that the Right is engaging in now -- but they also ceded the discussion to the dark digital caves where bigots congregate. They also added fuel to the rampant conservative opinion that the liberal media is "protecting" gays -- thereby strengthening a perception of bias. As British outlets continue to break news that suggests Manning was deeply disillusioned by his military experiences -- not only the conduct of the war but also, it appears, the military's policies towards LGBT servicepeople -- American mainstream news outlets are going to have to answer for why they under-reported Manning's identity.