Homoerotic Military Academy may have to open its doors to women
by Cal Sindel
November 10, 1999
If the West Virginia Supreme Court rules in favor of a female defendant, as early as next semester the state's 108-year-old Homoerotic Military Academy will have to open its doors to women.
The Homoerotic Military Academy was founded in 1891 by Gen. Clarence P. Halewood and Gen. Paul David Werton, two retired military generals renownd for the dignified homoeroticism they inspired in the units under their command. In 1889, Halewood and Werton bought a few acres of discount swamp land in West Virginia and decided to make it into an educational haven where fit, athletic young men could expand their minds and their bodies while preparing for a homoerotic career in the armed forces or civilian life. Since that time, the Homoerotic Military Academy (HMA) has been home away from home for thousands of homoerotic young men during the last century and has been a proud keeper of dozens of age-old homoerotic traditions, most of which are closely guarded secrets to this day.
One of the more well-known traditions, The Opening Sampler, is a beginning-of-semester tradition where upperclassmen abduct tender new recruits from their beds at night, strip them of their clothing and belongings and humiliate them until day break. The "grunts", as they are called, are often urinated upon, masturbated upon, forced to have sex with one another, and forced to have sex with rented animals. Often the grunts even have hot sauce smeared onto their genitals which, after 30 excruciating minutes, is licked off by other grunts. "It builds character," reads a student quote in an admissions pamphlet. "We all had to go through it, and when it's over, you're a better man. You're bonded to your classmates for life."
Another homoerotic tradition, the annual Spring Mud Run, has freshmen cadets pair off in groups of two, strip to the buff, and trudge through a muddy, three-day-long obstacle course meant to test the limits of endurance and the depth of male companionship. The winners are hosed off and carried to a ceremony on the shoulders of their naked comrades, and after a "hearty manfeast," reads the pamphlet, the ceremony ends in "an orgy of patriotism and school pride."
But these homoerotic traditions and many more like them may come to a very un-homoerotic end if Shannon Walker has her way.
When Shannon was a little girl climbing trees, playing with toy soldiers, and shooting squirrels with her BB gun, she dreamed of one day being admitted to the Homoerotic Military Academy, the same school her father, Jeff Walker, graduated from in 1968.
"When she was a little girl and told me she wanted to go HMA, I told her she could do anything she wanted to," says her father proudly, "because it was pretty obvious even then that she could hold her own with the boys. Friends were always telling me what a handsome son I had."
"I don't think I've ever seen her kiss a boy or even heard her talk about a boy," adds her mother suspiciously.
Shannon maintained a solid 4.0 GPA throughout her years in junior high and high school. She became captain of the Ridgemount High School football and wrestling teams, as well as captain of the men's swim team, the debate team, and the Dick Club. When it came time for Shannon to apply to college, she knew exactly where she wanted to go, and she wasn't going to let her vagina stand in her way.
Shannon filled out an application for HMA and brought it to her school's guidance counselor, a suspected lesbian who sympathized with Shannon's plight. The counselor agreed to Shannon's request, having every reference to her gender deleted from her transcript. For her picture, Shannon sent in a photo of herself in her football uniform. The application was sent in, and two months later, Shannon received a very homoerotic letter of acceptance to HMA.
"When I opened up that letter and saw the picture of the naked guy giving another naked guy a piggy-back ride under the words, 'Oh Yes', it was the happiest day of my life," recalled Shannon during a phone interview with divisiontwo, "because at first I thought it was a new Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. But when I figured out it was an acceptance letter to HMA, I was so excited I almost swallowed my chew."
Her father tells divisiontwo he was "delighted" when he heard the good news. "I just shook my head in amazement, I couldn't believe she actually did it. I wasn't sure it would work out, but she's butch enough that I doubted anyone would notice she didn't have a penis."
"I don't think she's ever worn a dress or any make-up, now that I think about it," her mother added.
The Admissions department at HMA was less than excited when the shocking truth about Shannon's phallically-challenged status became known. Less than three weeks after being mailed her homoerotic acceptance letter, Shannon received another homoerotic letter from HMA. This time, it featured a naked man who had slipped on the bathroom floor and landed with his head in a urinal, under the headline of "OOPS." The letter informed Shannon that a mistake had been made, that her insufficient and inferior urinary tract nullified her acceptance to HMA.
Not one lie down and let her vagina win, Shannon did what all women do when they don't get their way. She sued the school for discrimination and rape.
A judge immediately threw out the rape charge, citing a 1993 statute making it impossible to sue institutions or inanimate objects for rape, but the discrimination charge went to trial. The first judge, a homoerotic graduate of HMA, ruled against Shannon and in favor of HMA. Shannon appealed. After nine more judges, also all graduates of HMA, ruled against Shannon, the case made it to the Virginia Supreme Court, and a decision is expected any day now.
Shannon's claim is as simple and straightforward as can be expected from someone without a penis to aid her higher reasoning abilities. According to federal law, says Shannon, no public institution can deny enrollment based on gender or lack thereof. Therefore, Shannon's genderless status should not be considered grounds for barring her admission to HMA.
The HMA, while still calling itself a private institution, has been wholly subsidized by the U.S. government since the early 1900s.
The argument of the HMA Admissions Board is more complex than Shannon's, and has less to do with the letter of the law than appeals to tradition, fear of change and anti-feminist paranoia. "There is no way the Homoerotic Military Academy can admit someone with a vagina who knows nothing of what it's like to be homoerotic," argues HMA Dean of Admissions William Plankhart. "There's no way she'd be able to hold her own during some of the more intensely homoerotic aspects of the curriculum, and we have no intention of granting anyone special treatment."
Plankhart wouldn't give specifics but to say that some of the standard HMA curriculum and social activities center around the penis and require that students and participants have their own penis as a prerequisite and to use as a study aid. He said giving Shannon an attachment to wear would be "out of the question."
"I don't think HMA students would feel as comfortable acting out their homoeroticism if there were a female present," wrote the judge presiding over the original trial. "Even one as masculine as Shannon could prove to be an insurmountable distraction."
But Shannon insists she can be just as homoerotic as any man. In fact, when quizzed as to whether or not she knows what "homoerotic" means, Shannon responded after a long pause, "Is it the right to vote?"
Up until now, the main argument the HMA has used in court has been a tried and true gay-panic defense. "Force us to admit women and what's next? Admit gays?" an HMA defense attorney asks the press. "Where does it end? Will we be admitting pedophiles the year after that? Then what? Barn animals? Japs? The madness has to stop somewhere." The argument has been effective thus far with HMA alumni judging the case, most of whom write that opening HMA's doors to women and gays would degrade the integrity of the institution. But that could change soon, as the West Virginia Supreme Court includes two sitting female judges. Female judges are likely to feel a strong vaginal bond with Shannon and therefore may look at the case less rationally than would a male judge.
If the court rules in favor of Shannon, many wonder how she will get along in a school where freshmen aren't allowed to wear any pants for the first semester and must submit to weekly pubic hair shavings and daily sexual abuse by upperclassmen and school administrators.
"I'm looking forward to it," says Shannon. "I've always considered myself a man with a vagina, and I like being sexually harassed and taunted on a daily basis."
Shannon's father is also optimistic. "I think Shannon can handle anything they throw at her, even if it's bags of their own excrement, as it probably will be."
"You know, I'm really not sure if Shannon has any interest in boys at all..." her mother added, trailing off.
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