Zeeland: You told me you underwent a physical transformation upon coming out. You lost weight, you did other things to change your appearance. You were talking about the stereotypical modern Marine's concern with his appearance. Why weren't you that way already?
Captain Eric: I was only half a person. Your sexuality and your ability to form relationships, not just serious relationships but friendships, are based in large part on your sexuality. And that was completely missing from my life. And I didn't know it; I couldn't recognize what the problem was. And so it was a very frustrating time. It was boiling to a head when I was on Okinawa. Even before that, I just wasn't as disciplined when it came to physical fitness, simply because I didn't have a goal or a purpose. Being a Marine should have been goal or purpose enough, but I just didn't take it seriously enough.
The first six, seven months I went to gay bars I never hooked up, I never went home with anybody. It used to really frustrate me, but I realized, hey, I'm not good looking enough. And it's hard here in Southern California. It's a buyer's market! So I started running five, six, seven miles a day. I got contacts, 'cause I was wearing these thick glasses. I hadn't put any time or effort or money into clothes. I did that. I just started paying more attention to my appearance.
Zeeland: Well, you look great now.
Captain Eric: Thanks. [Laughs.] I work hard enough at it! You know, but it's ironic, because everything I did to make myself more competitive in the gay marketplace has also helped me immensely in the Marine Corps. My last PFT score was a two ninety six; if I hadn't been chain smoking the weekend before I would probably have gotten a perfect three hundred.
On the Marine Corps fitness report that your OIC, your commanding officer, writes on you, [two of the items are] military presence and personal appearance. Basically, how good looking you are. I was noticing that the other day as I was filling out one of these things; that's just another area where the stereotypical gay world crosses over. . . .
I think it's amazing how you can go into any Marine barracks, and what are you going to find there? Stacks of muscle and fitness magazines that are full of photographs of beautiful male bodies. And these guys will sit there and they will pore over these magazines for hours, just staring at these guys. Is there anything sexual in that? I don't know. But there's definitely a sincere appreciation and love for the beauty of the male body. And they know that.
I think the Marine Corps attracts men who appreciate beauty. You asked me why I chose the Marine Corps over the other services. I think that's one of the reasons. The Marine Corps' emphasis on attention to detail and appearance — I mean, just the uniform. Just the poster Marine. It attracts people who are that way.
Zeeland: You told me another reason you had for not joining the Navy.
Captain Eric: Their uniforms are disgusting.
Zeeland: That's not what you said.
Captain Eric: [Laughs.] Their uniforms make them look like faggots! That's one of the things I thought at the time, yeah. Their uniforms make them look- gay. They're really tight in the ass, real tight around the crotch. The dungarees. And then the whites, they usually don't fit very well. I don't find that attractive at all.
Zeeland: What does the Marine Corps dress blue uniform symbolize to you?
Captain Eric: It forces you into an erect posture, forces you to hold your head up. You look proud; you look like you've got it all together. It's a very good looking uniform. And I think all of that symbolizes this attitude of, I am going to be as precise and perfect and as excellent as I can be. That's why the standards for those uniforms are very strict. We must have gone through a dozen uniform inspections before we got out of Quantico. And the guys in boot camp go through almost as many. And if a Marine starts gaining weight, his platoon sergeant is going to make him have it refitted or buy a new one. And I like that.
Zeeland: Do you find the uniform sexy?
Captain Eric: No, in fact I find it almost not sexy, because it kind of just hangs.
The snug belt does kind of emphasize the waist a little bit, but still- I guess here I'd have to explain what I find sexy. To me, the sexiest thing is a lean, muscular man with rippling muscles, but not very big. And most Marines look big in that uniform. When I'm in that uniform, I'm like, damn, sign me up for [Eric's home state football team] or something. So I find [the uniform] appealing but not sexy.