Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Being Gay in the US Military | 1980s

The Representation of the LGBT community in the American Military during the 1980's 

Link to article -

 For the LGBT community in America it is always a turbulent one, the thought of being gay or one coming out as gay was and still is frowned upon in less liberal areas and close-minded communities. Being gay was seen as disgraceful, so in simpler ways it was best thought that being ‘gay’ was something that could never be, to ignore anything of the sort, even though those who were homosexual were all around. In relation to the government and military we know now that there is a don’t ask, don’t tell policy as of 1993, but for the military in the 1980s if someone was categorised or found out as gay, they could be dismissed on the grounds of their sexuality.

But it was in the 1980s, just as the article has stated, there was a pivotal event that was cemented into the LGBT community. It was the recognition of the first report of what we now know as AIDS in forty-one men, and as described in the New York Times at the time, it was a “rare cancer seen in homosexuals”. 
But what I want to focus on is the impact and issues that homosexuality had for those during the 1980s, that is why I can relate to this article; titled ‘Coming Out In America, An Historical Perspective’, because it provides evidence for individual years during the 80s decade. 

So with that I have chosen the section that looks at the very beginning of the 80s in 1980, it highlights the experience that one Leonard Matlovich had during his time in the Air Force because he decided to come out as gay. The issue of homosexuality in the military was brought to the forefront because of Matlovich's confession, as he publicly admitted his homosexuality to Air Force officials and because of this, Matlovich was offered a general discharge from the Air Force. But as the military’s policies were revised in 1980 Leonard Matlovich was reinstated to the Air Force, and received an upgraded in his discharge, to that of honourable, and a $160,000 settlement.

This is the grave of Leonard Matlovich, it is very poignant, especially if you read his message. 
It just shows the injustice and how ironic the military were over the issue of homosexuality.

Subsequently, in 1981, the US Department of Defense revised its policy on lesbians and gays in the military. The new policy that was issued bared homosexuals from serving in the military and it was required that questions about sexual orientation were to be asked of all recruits.

The question here is, is it wrong to offer someone money based on their sexuality? Is it a bribe to stay quiet, in order to save the military’s face? Or is it purely an apology payment?
Equally, what did the military think they would achieve by barring homosexuals from the military?

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