Benfey quotes Lord:
"I suddenly saw like an appalling sunburst, fatal and final, that what I really wanted to do with the good-looking boys whose best pal I longed to be was not just horsing around in the locker room but doing freely with them in bed after lights out everything I had always till then been compelled to do in solitude with myself. In short, the creature I’d suddenly seen was that abnormal, that abominable thing called a homosexual, a loathsome mistake of nature, a cultural criminal whom any feeling person would naturally put in prison."
Then Benfey writes:
"It is to avoid this fate, both inner and outer, that Lord flees to the Army. Later, he contrasts his own cowardly flight from reality with his younger brother’s motivations for joining up. “Teddy had heroically sought out danger and achieved the merit of dying,” shot by a Japanese sniper on Luzon, “whereas I had miserably run away from the inconvenience of being queer.” Lord’s ambivalence, one foot in the closet, leads to predictable misunderstandings during his early posting in a chemical warfare unit near Reno. He tells one of his superiors that he’s in love with him. “Don’t tell me,” the officer replies. “Don’t even think about telling me.”
"Lord gets a more encouraging, if lingeringly ambiguous, response from a mysterious young soldier named Johannes Friedrich Kessler, who goes by the name of Hanno, just like “the last of the Buddenbrooks in Thomas Mann’s novel.” Lord and Hanno embark on romantic excursions to ghost towns and silver mines in the Nevada outback, all the while discussing Tonio Kröger and young Werther. (“Guy in a story by Goethe,” Hanno explains. “Hopelessly in love. He kills himself.”) They reveal everything to one another except the one big secret, the “lurid, shaming, guilty secret,” that might seal their Burschenherrlichkeit, rendered by the well-hung and camera-shy Hanno as “glorious fellowship,” forever.
"Hanno emerges as the great might-have-been in Lord’s story, an embodiment of ideal masculinity, “the superior shiver of high culture,” and “another Germany.”
Buy My Queer War now.