BRYAN, Texas — Highly decorated military veteran Douglas Martin got the shock of a lifetime Sunday when his son, Lance Cpl. Shane Martin, came out of the closet as a POG. Lance Cpl. Martin, currently based out of Camp Pendleton, California, took leave to share the news in person.
"My dad thought I was a machine gunner with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, but I finally told him the truth. I'm a Bulk Fuel Specialist in 1st MHG, and I'm proud."
"I just thought he was just going to tell me he was gay. He would have had my full support. I'm not a monster. But POG? That lifestyle's just not natural for this family," said Douglas Martin, who fought with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Vietnam.
"I killed a man with a canteen once. And my own father sure as hell didn't leave an arm in the jungles of Bougainville so his grandson could twiddle his vagina-flaps and pump petroleum. I bought him a toy gas pump for his bicycles when he was a kid. Maybe that's where it went wrong."
Lance Cpl. Martin was not surprised by the negative reaction, citing a longstanding divide between the infantry and their supporting elements. Historians have found evidence of pogophobia dating as far back as 1783 where 'Fife And Drummers Doth Sucketh Balls' was etched into a bathroom door at Philadelphia's Tun Tavern by riflemen from the Continental Marines.
Despite centuries-long bias, Lance Cpl. Martin found the strength to come out after reading a pamphlet by the LGBT (Ladies, Garrison & Boot Team) Alliance. The alliance seeks to foster pride and promote a positive image of Marines from all occupational backgrounds, regardless of how little they know about all of those different gun thingies.
"Most of these Marines know they're POGs from the very first time they jam a magazine in backwards, but they're ashamed to admit it," said LGBT founder and Administrative Clerk, Staff Sgt. Shane Lessing.
He believes many try to hide their MOS orientation by getting large 'Infidel' tattoos or posting photos to Facebook that are edited to make their trip to the rifle range look like SEAL training.
"Eventually the truth comes out so it's better to be honest. Don't pretend to be something you're not," says Lessing.
He learned this first hand as a corporal in 2010 after posting a selfie to Facebook flexing in nothing but his silkies, dog tags and gas mask with the caption 'Tuefel Hunden 4 Lyfe' underneath. Various military-oriented social media sites turned his photo into a viral meme and his car was repeatedly covered in Crazy Glue dipped tampons in the months that followed.
Not wanting this to happen to others, Staff Sgt. Lessing and fellow LGBT members created POG sensitivity training that is expected to go Corps-wide this summer. Lessing also has a message for Marines like Lance Cpl. Martin:
"It gets better. There will come a time when you'll appreciate your low cutting score and haze-free environment. Plus, think of the all the money you'll probably save on ribbons and medals."
This weekend Lance Cpl. Martin returns to Camp Pendleton where he will march in the first annual POG Pride Parade. Back in Texas, Douglas Martin will be left with heartache.
"We probably won't speak again until Christmas, where I'll get sloppy drunk and call him a pussy at the dinner table," the distraught father added, eyes glazed over and staring off into the distance.