By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com May 23 2012 11:31 AM ET
Each year the freshman class, known as 'Plebes,' climb the monument at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., to retrieve the Plebian Sailor's hat and replace it with an officer's hat. The tradition is one step in marking the end of wearing freshman headgear and moving up to headgear more like a U.S. Naval officer.
Each class year competes against the other for the length of time it takes to complete the task. No one can say how long this contest has been going on, but on the Naval Academy parents' site (USNA.org) there is a list of times going back to 1962 (3 minutes). 1969 was the fastest time ever recorded: 1 minute, 30 seconds. And in 1995 (the year after DADT was enacted) it took an astonishing 4 hours, 5 minutes, 17 seconds. Imagine over 4 hours of sweaty, lard-covered, shirtless plebes, crawling over each other in the humid Maryland heat while being hosed down.
Here is a description from USNA.org:
"The smell of the melting lard permeates thousands of cheering spectators. Bodies turn red with beads of sweat dripping down the tower of people. Agony shows on the faces of those at the bottom of the pyramid as they support upon their shoulders three or four tiers of muscular bodies. As the crowd yells in anticipation, the class gets excited and "They're gonna make it" is heard all around. Crash. The bodies collapse like dominoes. Their greasy skin, stained with dirt, lard and sun make it extremely difficult to sustain any balance for a long period of time."
So, is this gay? No gayer than Turkish oil wrestling. Is this entertaining and relevant to the LGBT audience? Hell yes, especially since the women can now compete.
Oh, and someone gets to hose them down while they struggle. Did we mention that?
The great news: Women can join in!