G.I. Joe is Gay
My G.I. Joes were not like ordinary G.I. Joes. They weren’t just mindless action figures who fought for unknown reasons. There was more to them — they had substance, and each and every one of them had a different backstory and a different motive for being a soldier. They were actual people with lives and families waiting for them back home. And — make no mistake — they were goddamn heroes.
For this reason, I decided my Joes needed physical wives waiting for them when they returned from their long tour of duty. I had no idea what they would do to their wives when they actually returned, but I believed it was still important that they were there. As a six-year-old, I was conditioned to think that all men had wives, and my G.I. Joes were no exception.
I approached my mother. “Mom, can I have some Barbies?”
Before she could answer, my father’s voice was already echoing through the house. Apparently he overheard from the other room. His voice bellowed, “What?”
He rushed into the kitchen. This was his nightmare.
Before I could explain that the Barbies would serve as the wives of my heroes, I was swiftly brushed aside as a grown-up argument commenced.
“You know, I don’t really see the problem with it.”
“He’s not getting Barbies,” my father asserted. “We aren’t going to be those parents.”
“He doesn’t even know. They’re all just toys.”
“There are girl toys and boy toys. He’s a boy. Case closed.” And with that, my father returned to the couch in the other room, and my mother just shrugged at me with apologetic eyes. I would not be receiving Barbie dolls for Christmas. This much was clear.
But why was it such a big deal? What was the problem with my Joes having wives? Nothing made much sense, and I was stuck playing with only an all-male collection of action figures.
In my mind, the G.I. Joes had wives waiting for them back home. Unfortunately, the physical presence of any Mrs. Joe was still missing. This infuriated me, even as a child. How could my characters and the different plots develop if all I had were men? It’s not like they could marry each other. Could they?
My older brother, Ryan, barged into the room one day while I was positioning my Joes for battle. He came in with the cocky air of having just found out something from his classmates that he was going to share with me, just as he’d done with Santa and the Easter Bunny.
“You know, you don’t need Barbies to be wives,” Ryan said with a grin.
“Yes I do. They need to be married.”
This was where Ryan blew my mind with a fascinating new concept. “Not if they’re gay.”
I was confused. Like The Flintstones — “Have a gay old time!” — like that?
Luckily my older and much wiser brother enlightened me further, “It means they don’t like girls. They like each other.”
“No…” I didn’t believe it. If this gay thing was true, then why was I never told about it?
Ryan was gone before I could inquire more about what gay meant and specifically what it would mean for my G.I. Joes. Would they kiss and hug and stuff? Like husbands and wives? Could they get married? So many questions filled my small mind.
I would deal more with those thoughts later though, because in that moment I was happy that I found a temporary solution to my G.I. Joes’ relationship problems.
Later on I was playing and my father came up to me, crouching down to get at my eye level. He said, “Jared, you know why you can’t have Barbies, right? I want to make sure you understand.”
“I understand, Dad.”
A smile crept across my father’s face. He had done his job and taught me what he thought was a very important lesson.
As I turned back to my toys, I opened my mouth one more time to speak to my father. A new nightmare set in when I said, “It doesn’t matter anyway. My G.I. Joes are gay.”
Yes, they were all gay. And they were still goddamn heroes.