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‘Can I Be Gay in the Army?’: British Army recruitment advertising to LGBTQ youth in 2017–18 and belonging in the queer military home

Baker, Catherine



In 2017, the British Army opened its ‘This is Belonging’ recruitment campaign, aimed at groups of young people who were considered traditionally less likely to join the Army, with marketing at Pride in London aimed at LGBTQ youth. The campaign’s next phase, in 2018, consisted of live-action and animated YouTube videos targeting specific groups including young women, religiously observant youth, emotionally sensitive young men, youth with average fitness levels, and, in the animations, LGBTQ youth again. While every other theme appeared in both sets of videos, the live-action set contained a video depicting homosocial male bonding instead of any LGBTQ theme. The Army’s acknowledgement of LGBTQ identities during recruitment in 2017–18 suggested certain advances from the 2000s position where LGBTQ personnel were expected to keep their sexuality private. A close audiovisual analysis of the LGBTQ-themed video, ‘Can I be Gay in the Army?’, and its intertextual relationship with the other videos nevertheless reveals hesitancy over how to represent a legibly gay male soldier that hints at limits to the institution’s inclusion of sexual difference. Drawing on both ‘LGBT’ and ‘Queer’ scholarship, the paper illustrates how concepts of domesticity and futurity can contribute to critical understandings of LGBTQ military inclusion.


Baker, C. (2023). ‘Can I Be Gay in the Army?’: British Army recruitment advertising to LGBTQ youth in 2017–18 and belonging in the queer military home. Critical military studies, 9(3), 442-461.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 11, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 17, 2022
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 19, 2022
Journal Critical Military Studies
Print ISSN 2333-7486
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 3
Pages 442-461
Keywords British Army; LGBTQ; Military; Queer; Recruitment; Youth
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.<br /> This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License<br /> (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way

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