There's seemingly no limit to the number of conspiracies in which the US government is supposedly involved. Although many of these conspiracies are laughable, sometimes the most ridiculous rumors turn out to be true, including the real proposal of strange defensive tactics like a flatulence bomb and a "gay bomb." Crazy military inventions like this may sound like they belong in a side plot of Dr. Strangelove, but documents prove the government really did toy with plans of a homosexual incendiary device.
Although the idea of a defense tool that aims to make enemy combatants gay might have seemed appropriate in the 1950s, when Americans feared atomic devices, UFOs full of aliens, and cannabis-crazed teenagers, the proposal of the gay blitz actually took place in the 1990s. The proposal wasn't limited to weaponizing biological desire and flatulence; it also considered methods of causing bad breath and other distractions that might incapacitate an opponent without ending their life.
The Sunshine Project discovered these proposed devices in 2005 after the biological artillery watchdog organization used the Freedom of Information Act to access certain government documents. The media went wild over the story, and despite the US government assuring everyone that the proposals were never followed through to completion, the very idea that such National Enquirer-style headlines could be true blew many minds. Although the Sunshine Project has since been shut down, what they uncovered can still be found online - and the outline of these proposals is just as strange as it is comical.
The US Military Feared Homosexuality For Years
Although the US government didn't officially ban members of the LGBTQ+ community from serving in the armed forces until 1982, it looked down upon them. Sodomy had been considered an unlawful act since the American Revolution. By the mid-20th century, homosexuality had come to be viewed as a mental defect. LGBTQ+ people weren't allowed to enlist during the Korean conflict, WWII, or the Vietnam conflict, as they were considered medically unfit. Although the US armed forces occasionally changed their policies when they were in need of more troops, they discharged LGBTQ+ personnel as soon as they were no longer necessary. After the official ban on LGBTQ+ service people in 1982, they discharged almost 17,000 soldiers.
Throughout his campaign, President Bill Clinton vowed to repeal the ban, and intended to keep his promise after he was elected in 1992. In 1993, Clinton conceded his effort to end the complete ban on LGBTQ+ service people and instead agreed to the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy. While the proposal didn't limit LGBTQ+ participation, it required them to keep their orientation hidden or risk being discharged. People who supported the ban believed that allowing LGBTQ+ people to serve openly might make discipline difficult, ruin morale, and disrupt the trust and closeness required for units in combat. After years of growing opposition to the policy, President Barack Obama signed a repeal in 2010.
Amid Fears of Homosexual Disruption, A US Air Force Lab Proposed The 'Harassing, Annoying and "Bad Guy" Identifying Chemicals Project'
One year after Clinton initiated the DADT policy, some members of the government clearly weren't over their unease with homosexuality. According to the Sunshine Project, Wright Laboratory, which was run by the US Air Force, came up with the "Harassing, Annoying and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals Project" in 1994. The lab requested a grant of $7.5 million, which they would use over a period of six years to investigate the possible creation of several unique devices. Government-funded laboratories requesting money for the invention of powerful new defensive tools was nothing out of the ordinary; proposals like the Manhattan Project led to the history-changing creation of the atomic device. Wright Laboratory's proposal, however, suggested an entirely different approach to biological combat.
Supposedly searching for ways to disable enemy troops without taking lives, the lab suggested three categories of chemical devices that would attract creatures to annoy their opponents, cause physical damage, and change their opponents' behavior in a detrimental manner. The first two categories included making sunlight extremely harmful to opposing forces and attracting rats and wasps that would distract their adversaries. The project also suggested causing physical harm and embarrassment, including "severe and lasting halitosis" that would make their adversaries stand out if they tried to camouflage themselves among civilians. Other proposed biological tools included a "Who? Me?" device that would create simulated flatulence. The flatulence device was supposedly first suggested in 1945, and was rejected because, reportedly, not everyone found passing gas to be offensive.
The Project Also Proposed Weakening Enemy Troops With A 'Gay Bomb'
Along with proposals for distracting enemy troops with flatulence and bad breath, scientists at Wright Laboratory also noted that "[o]ne distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior;" in other words, a "gay bomb." Instead of taking out the opposition with destructive tools, scientists theorized they could detonate a gas containing excessive female pheromones that would make soldiers seem "sexually irresistible" to one another. Perhaps a result of the US government's idea that homosexuality spells disaster for troops, the project's creators believed the proposed device "would be disruptive to unit morale and effectiveness."
The proposal admitted, however, that such aphrodisiac chemicals do not exist and would first need to be invented. In fact, lab tests have failed to prove that creating aphrodisiac chemicals is even possible despite products that make these claims. While scientists generally believe certain smells can inspire people's behavior, researchers have not identified the exact chemical makeup of desirable pheromones. Additionally, although science has no definite explanation for the basis of a person's orientation, many believe it involves genetics and prenatal hormones. Whether such identifying factors can be manipulated by chemicals is uncertain and unlikely.
According To The US Government, The Proposal Wasn't Taken Seriously
After the Sunshine Project publicly revealed the "gay bomb" proposal, the Department of Defense (DOD) claimed they considered the ideas but never made any attempt to put them into action. Department officials made statements including, "It was not taken seriously. It was not considered for further development," and, "[The proposal] was rejected out of hand." Despite their claims, evidence uncovered by the Sunshine Project revealed that the Pentagon brought up the project for consideration again in 2000 and 2001. The Sunshine Project also proved the DOD looked at the idea again in 2002, this time submitting the proposal to the National Academy of Sciences, America's highest review board containing the country's leading researchers. Seeking the expertise of such an elite group seems to prove that the DOD did, at one point, seriously consider the project.
Although nothing ever came of the project, the proposed tools were honored at the 2007 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, which is essentially the Razzies of the Nobel Prize world. Put on by the Annals of Improbable Research, a humorous scientific journal, the ceremony awards achievements in research "that make people laugh - then think" and takes place at Harvard University with a few real Nobel laureates in attendance. As humiliating as it may be to the DOD, the award proved an appropriate final chapter to the proposal for the homosexual incendiary device.