Okay,this is going to be less a review and more of an outpouring of my personal feelings on my reading that book.
This book by Stephen Bourne is a book that deals with a sample of the materials available;gay men who served in the World Wars despite the difficulties faced by them due to a society prejudiced against them. I found the values of bravery,sacrifice,heroism and over all that,despite official bigotry from time to time;even the most outrageously camp/effeminate types were accomodated in roles as entertainers even if not directly in fighting. And the ones who were in the frontlines;their values of sacrifice,and the permanent relationships they could form(this was relatively successful over time,surprisingly) despite how formally society looked down upon them but unofficially tolerated them-because they were men of virtue beyond just liking men-IMO are ideals to look upto even after all these days and emaluate.
This is not to say men who were attracted to men did not exist. They have existed since at least the dawn of agriculture in humankind. The definition of gay=attracted to men(and a community that defined itself like that) arose in only the 1920s-1930s Anglo-European world. Before that,there were people attracted to men in the US who would fuck straight men(or as the slang went, ‘trade’). Then people who had feminine mannerisms,and dressed such. Men who fucked other men. None of them came under that modern ‘gay’ label(as defining oneself/having an identity based on the sex one is attracted to). I am basing this on my reading of Foucault and George Chancey’s Gay New York:Gender,Urban Culture and the making of the Gay male world 1890-1940.
Secondly,I would find it grossly wrong to elevate a engendered in a situation like that-Would you endorse buying someone as your property,cutting off his balls and using him as your toy for sexual satisfaction?That’s essentially how the relationship began. There are better gay icons/icons with ambiguous sexuality in the past to look forward to,like Walt Whitman,etc.