Out in the Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier

By James Wharton


This month Biteback Publishing is delighted to publish the updated paperback of the acclaimed autobiography Out in the Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier by James Wharton. In this frank, honest and moving account James guides us through the life of a young man enlisting in the Army, and the difficult duties that entails, whilst also trying to come to terms with his sexuality and encouraging others to accept him for who he is.  This moving story depicts a teenagers’ journey of self-realisation to a man’s campaign for equality, as James evolves from cavalryman into poster boy. 


In Chapter 9, ‘Mum… I’m Gay!’ James Wharton recounts his experience of coming out:

"As long as you’ve been alive, James, you’ve never kept a secret from me. You’ve never hidden something away like this!" Seeing her so upset with me was hard to deal with. I hated, as do all sons, seeing my mum cry. Why couldn’t I just tell her the name of the girl I was dating? That’s all she wanted to know, but because I wasn’t offering that very basic bit of information, she’d concluded that the truth was something much worse.

She was going all out; her mind had clearly been running away with her. I had to tell her she was wrong. In the commotion of it all, it happened. I told her the truth.

 “I’m gay, Mum. I’m gay”.
The tears stopped and she paused. The entire house was silent. Slowly her head began to sink downwards. Then she started crying again.

 “His name’s Thomas…I really like him.”

“And how old is he?” I found it incredible that this was the very next question she asked. I couldn’t understand what relevance Thom’s age was to the news I just told her…She carried on crying and I considered giving her a hug, but I couldn’t. In my heart of hearts, I honestly thought my mum would have accepted the news and followed it up with ‘I knew all along’. But she hadn’t. I zipped up my jacket and left to meet Thom. I left her crying in the living room, next to a pile of ironing and all alone. It was a horrible experience.’

I’m not sure what exactly motivated Mum’s change of heart in the short space of a week. She turned her emotion and behaviour around completely within seven days. She gave me the tightest, longest hug that afternoon before waving me goodbye and, more surprisingly yet, demanded I introduce her to Thom at the earliest opportunity. 

Read the full chapter here. 

Reviews for Out in the Army:

“A wonderful, stirring and thrilling read. I laughed, wept and winced.” – Stephen Fry
“A highly readable and distinctly 21st-century boy’s own tale.” – Ben Summerskill OBE
“A deeply moving and personal insight into life in the army. A story of bravery, love and victory. James we salute you.” – Alice Arnold

Out in the Army is now available (eBook and Paperback) on our 2 week price promise, so don't miss out.