ONCE AGAIN, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy, who forcefully and unequivocally denounced racism at the Academy, demonstrates what an informed, courageous leader he is—and acknowledges one of our own.
"AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE." Many will remember when there were no positive stories in mainstream media about gay people regardless of our walk of life.... And even as that began to change, most of us of a certain age never imagined that any newspaper would some day publish feature stories celebrating a "gay wedding," including "The New York Times," once as homophobic as any other paper.
TODAY'S "TIME'S" FEATURE, "For Love of Country, and Each Other," at https://tinyurl.com/yd2wtrvy is also another celebration of the end to the American military ban. As happy as we are for Army Capt. Daniel Hall and Capt. Vincent Franchino who were married last Saturday in the chapel at West Point, we're saddened that good intentions didn't prevent the "Times" from continuing to publish historical ignorance in other areas—along with still stumbling over terminology decades after the "Time's" ban on using the word "gay" was finally lifted. "L period G period B period T period"??? Hello!!!).
FOR ANYONE, like the author, possibly still unaware:
1. they were only "the first active-duty, same-sex couple to exchange vows at the legendary Army post" in the sense that both men are active duty. In November 2012, Army 1st Lt Ellen Schick wed civilian Shannon Simpson albeit in West Point’s Old Cadet Chapel versus the newer, much larger Cadet Chapel where Franchino and Hall were married (as were a lesbian couple in 2012 and a gay male couple in 2013 though neither were, then, active duty).
2. the military banned LGBs for decades before the policy was codified into so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," during which time nearly TEN TIMES the number kicked out under DADT were 86ed. Worse, some were put in "Queer Stockades" and mental hospitals (photos) on top of any of the kind of hell DADT's victims experienced. Perpetuation and tolerance of the Big Lie that the ban and associated mistreatment began with DADT is not just intellectually moronic but an insult to the service and memories of the homophobic military's 100,000+ pre-DADT victims—as well as those who fought to stop it dating to at least 1964.
3. DADT did NOT apply to transgender service members except in the random imbecility of commanders who could not tell the difference between gender orientation and gender identity. The victimization of T service members was driven by ignorant policy not law.
4. the author's assertion that "[DADT] forbade any homosexual or bisexual member of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages" betrays an embrace of the ubiquitous myth (read: con) that "gays WERE ALLOWED to serve as long as they didn't 'tell'." That's like saying, "Blacks can serve as long as they pass for White." The reality was that—however the military learned OR SUSPECTED that the service member was lesbian, gay, or bisexual—they could be asked and they could be kicked out whether or not they admitted it. Perpetuation and tolerance of this second Big Lie is also unacceptable.
Finally, the unequivocal use of "macho" in the article perpetuates the myth that only "men" can be the toughest soldiers thereby contributing to continued ignorant discrimination against women service members.
MAZEL TOV to the Franchino-Halls, but "The New York Times" can and must do better.
FOR THE GAY HISTORY LOVER on your gift list—and for yourself—no better new book this season than that by one of my heroes—former Major Margaret Witt's account o...f her history changing 2010 federal court victory reversing her being kicked out of the United States Air Force simply because she was gay.
"Tell: Love, Defiance, and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights" - https://tinyurl.com/y8k492p3
SEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY President Obama signed the bill that allowed for the repeal of DADT under certain conditions that were finally met in 2011. But too few remember—and many more never understood at the time—that his support of repeal was not enough to get top brass in the Pentagon and several members of Congress to finally stop fighting repeal. It took two successful court challenges—which too few also remember his Administration shamelessly fought—to convince recalcitrant homophobes to accept that either they ended the ban "their way" or the courts would their way. The first was by, yes, Log Cabin Republicans and the second by Margie. “The reason [Don’t Ask Don’t Tell] was repealed was because [Major Witt] put a real face on it.” - DADT repeal bill cosponsor Senator Joe Lieberman.
A TWENTY-YEAR VETERAN, she had literally been the poster woman for the Air Force's flight nurse program; saving lives, winning medals and the loyalty of her patients, peers, and supervisors. But she was outed, and the cold, cruel machinery of Don't Ask, Don't Tell clicked into gear, and she was kicked to the curb in 2006. Four courageous years later, after multiple court appearances and through two Administrations she pounded the final nail into the ban's coffin—35 years after Air Force TSgt. Leonard Matlovich purposely outed himself to challenge the policy ban which dated to WWII.
THANK YOU, Margie, for this book and for your service to your Country and to your Community. In my heart I kneel down.
IN MEMORIAM GAY WWII VETERAN ED ZASADIL. It's estimated that over 300 American WWII veterans die every day, and that only about 550,000—less than 4%—of the some... 16 million who served are left in 2017. Ed passed last Friday at age 93, survived by his partner of 55 years, fellow veteran Larry Simpson. He was drafted into the Army in 1943 right after his high school graduation, and was a devoted member and past Treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights. Thank you for your service to our Country and to our Community. Rest in Peace. Rest in Pride.
Photos courtesy of Tracy Baim, "Windy City Times."
SALUTING ON THIS ANNIVERSARY of the bombing of Pearl Harbor—20 of the hundreds of thousands of American gay men and lesbians who proudly served their country du...ring WWII even though they were denied most of the freedoms they were fighting for. And, of course, bisexual and transgender people served, too. FROM TOP ROW, Left to Right: HENRY GERBER (cofounded the first gay rights organization in the US in 1924), DALE JENNINGS (cofounder of the Mattachine Society in 1950; the first continuous gay rights organization in the US), DON SLATER (cofounder/editor of “ONE” magazine in 1953; the first continuous public gay periodical in the US), JOSÉ SARRIA (first out gay candidate for political office, 1961), HELEN HARDER (flight instructor in the Women’s Army Corps-WAC), FRANK KAMENY (father of the modern gay rights movement), BILL HORNE (Navy radioman; Pacific Theatre), SARAH DAVIS (Naval Aviation Machinist Mate), VINCENT MILES (US Army; all-black 92nd Infantry Division), ELMER LOKKINS (US Army), BURT GERRITS (worked at a Navy psych ward on Treasure Island where identified gay sailors were sent), ARCH WILSON (US Army), actor ROCK HUDSON, ROBERT FLEISCHER (helped liberate Dachau concentration camp), comedienne PAT BOND (WAC), PAUL HARDMAN (cofounder in 1985 of the first gay American Legion Post, “Alexander Hamilton”), ROBERT RICKS (Air Force B-24 bomber navigator; survived Dachau as a prisoner of war), JACK STROUSS (US Army Signal Corps), JACQUELINE BEYER (helped crack Japanese military code), author GORE VIDAL.
Clever and timely...
"IF YOU ARE ABLE, save for them a place inside of you" on this Veterans Day. Late CAPT. Mike Rankin, US Navy (Ret), one of the heroes in the long battle to end ...the military ban on gays, reading the poem in 2009 that he always read each of the several years he organized the Veterans Day observance at the gravesite of Leonard Matlovich in Congressional Cemetery.
DC LGBT VETERANS DAY OBSERVANCE. Noon - Saturday - November 11, 2017. Leonard Matlovich Gravesite. Historic Congressional Cemetery. 1801 E Street SE Washington.... Sponsored by the DC Center for the LGBT Community, et al. There is limited street parking, but it's within walking distance of Potomac Avenue Metro Station on the Orange and Blue Metro Lines. Exiting the station, turn left onto Potomac Avenue, and walk to E Street (about 5 minutes). At E, take a slight right and enter the main cemetery entrance. Walk to the chapel directly ahead, then turn left onto Ingle Street, and walk to the intersection of Ingle and Henderson. Leonard's grave is immediately to the left under a tree. Link to Metro's site for departure times toward Potomac Avenue Station, etc. http://www.wmata.com/
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11th IS VETERANS DAY. In 1942, after considerable effort to overcome opposition in Congress and the military generally, President Franklin D. ...Roosevelt signed legislation establishing the WAVES or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service; returning women to general Navy service after a twenty-three year absence. Since WWI when some 11,000 women were enlisted as Yeomen (F) or “Yeomanettes,” mostly serving in clerical and secretarial positions, only a few women had continued as Navy nurses. By WWII's end, there would be over 100,000 WAVES.
ONE OF THEM was lesbian Sarah Davis from tiny Independence, Iowa, whose nickname was “Sammi.” Later she said that she joined in 1943 for “the adventure, the excitement. I was going to save the world for democracy. I liked the military life. I liked the discipline. I liked the order. I liked the marching, and the tunes.” Though WAVES could not serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, they supported them; Davis was an Aviation Machinist Mate First Class at the Naval Air Station in Vero Beach, Florida, and wrote news stories for the Naval Flight Exhibition Team in Jacksonville.
BEFORE VOLUNTEERING, she remembered she hadn't heard "anything about being queer. Didn't even know that word existed when I went into the Navy. We used to go to the bars open to lesbians, and hug and kiss and so on, but we had to keep things under control. And we definitely couldn't acknowledge commanding officers who might be lesbian, because you could get into big trouble. You had to form relationships very discreetly and privately."
AFTER THE WAR, she was interrogated during a witch hunt, a part of the about-face the military did after mostly “looking the other way” during the War once they no longer needed so many troops, and began lecturing new women recruits about the horrors of aggressive lesbians. Davis survived by breaking up with her lover, and denying she knew other gay women, and was ultimately given an honorable discharge. But she told documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong that, “[I]t made me very, very guarded for years and years. It took away what power that I thought I had. It broke my spirit, really, a lot. And that's been hard to recover, very hard.”
IT TOOK MANY YEARS, but one of the ways she found healing, and came out publicly, was winning seven gold medals in the seniors category at 1990’s Gay Games. In the interim, she attended Stanford University and USC, and was graduated in 1952 in Occupational Therapy and certified in Physical Therapy in 1956. In 1963, she received a Master of Arts Degree in Photography from San Francisco State College. She also served in the Peace Corps in 1971, serving in Swaziland, worked for San Francisco’s Visiting Nurses Association, and became a deacon in San Francisco’s All Saints’ Episcopal Church. For years she lived with her dog, Rambo, in an 1896 three-story Victorian on Clayton Street in the Haight that she bought in 1960, and ran as a boardinghouse worthy of one of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” characters.
A 2008 “New York Times” article about it being remodeled by its new owners upon the move by Davis, then 81, to an assisted living facility noted that, “The mural of a naked goddess that once dominated the entrance parlor is gone, [and] the communal shower with its swinging saloon doors. But a few remnants survive, including a wrought-iron peace sign on the back porch and, in a bathroom, a stained-glass portrait of St. Peter that had been salvaged in the 1960s from a demolished church. Tenants and guests [had] painted walls and ceilings with mandalas, Rastafarian basketball players, and a tree root that morphed into a rabbit, horse, and wolf.”
UPON HER DEATH the next year back in Iowa, Davis left a trust from her sale of her colorful house benefiting various groups including Marin County’s Canal Alliance that serves low-income immigrant populations with “crisis counseling, a food pantry, classes in English, computers, and citizenship, and affordable legal help to keep families together.” A niece wrote: “Aunt Sarah was a positive influence in my live. She always encouraged me to reach for the stars. She lived her life to the fullest, and had many exciting experiences. She followed her mother's example and continued fighting for women’s rights. She will be missed.”
IN MEMORIAM ALLEN SCHINDLER December 13, 1969 – October 27, 1992. On this day, a week before the 1992 Presidential election, the 22-yr. old sailor was so viciou...sly attacked by two shipmates for being gay that his Mother could only identify his body by the tattoos on his arm. As "The New York Times" reported: "'I am finally going to a special place', radioman Allen Schindler wrote on the first page of a pale green notebook he bought two years after entering the Navy. The special place was the aircraft carrier Midway—'the mighty, mighty Midway', he called it—and the notebook was to be a record of his happiness on board. Evidently he expected an abiding happiness, for he numbered the bottoms of the pages from 1 to 192. But in 1991 he was transferred to the Belleau Wood, a smaller ship with a reputation for mayhem. As his progressively less legible entries attest, Allen was miserable.
At Christmas [his Mother] Dorothy saw he had removed stitches from the logo on his cap, turning the B in Belleau into an H. What she didn't know was that the hell he was suffering was the hell of a gay man in fear for his life. . . . Allen Schindler loved the Navy, and died of unrequited love; it shipped him back, an anonymous pulp, unrecognizable even to his mother, except for the insignia tattooed on his right arm—of the U.S.S. Midway." For shortly before midnight on this day in 1992, he was stomped to death by two sailors from his ship simply for being gay. The next month, with the election of Bill Clinton as President, the battle over the military ban exploded into a culture war ultimately won by religiofascists in and out of Congress and the military who had no interest in hearing how the ban fostered and fed such rabid homohatred.
Thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway for recalling Schindler's murder and his murderers:
>>>By the time his fellow sailors got done with him, the only identifiable feature left intact was a tattoo on his arm. While on shore leave in Sasebo, Japan, two drunken shipmates followed Schindler into a public restroom in a park. Airman Charles Vins watched—and occasionally joined in—as Airman Apprentice Terry Helvey kneed Schindler in the arm, punched him repeatedly on the floor, and stomped on him with the heel of his boot. The pathologist described Schindler’s body as the worst case he had ever seen, and compared the damage to that of a “high-speed auto accident or a low-speed aircraft accident.” He also said that it was worse than another case he had seen, that of a man who had been trampled to death by a horse. The pathologist’s report chronicled a litany of lacerations, contusions and abrasions of the forehead, eyes, noes, lips, chin, neck, Adam’s apple, trachea, lungs, liver (which was “like a smushed tomato”) and, tellingly, penis. All but two ribs were broken, and both his lungs and brain had hemorrhaged.
The Navy stonewalled the investigation. The murder occurred just as the pre-DADT debate was getting started over allowing gays to serve in the military. The Navy refused to confirm how Schindler died or whether a weapon was involved. At one point, a Navy senior officer leaked the story that Schindler’s murder was the result of a romance with Helvey gone bad. Meanwhile, Schindler’s mother, Dorothy Hajdys, was kept in the dark by Navy officials about what happened to her son or about the investigation. They even tried Vins without her knowledge and sentenced him to four months in the brig. All the information Dorothy received about her son’s case came from the press. “If one more reporter calls me with information before you do,” she told the Navy commander in charge of the case, “you haven’t even heard me scream!” Two months after the murder, Navy officials finally admitted that Schindler had been killed in a gay bashing.
The Navy denied that they had received any complaints of harassment. But as the investigation continued, it was slowly revealed that Schindler’s ship, the amphibious assault ship Belleau Wood, was a living nightmare for him. His locker had been glued shot and he was the brunt of frequent comments, like, “There’s a faggot on this ship and he should die.” Schindler requested a separation from the Navy, but his superiors insisted he remain aboard ship until the process was finished. During Helvey’s trial, it was revealed that Helvey told one investigator that he had no remorse for the killing. “I don’t regret it. I’d do it again. … He deserved it.” Helvey avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to “inflicting great bodily harm,” and was sentenced to life in prison. The ship’s captain who had tried to keep the crime quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. And Dorothy, virtually overnight, became an outspoken advocate for hate crime protections and for gays being allowed to serve in the military.<<<
Now 45 and in a Greenville, Illinois, federal prison a 3 1/2-hour drive from Allen Schindler's grave, Helvey has put on some 35 pounds of muscle mass since his trial and cut his hair, making him unrecognizable from courtroom days. In 2013, he described having written four vampire novels, one of which he expected to soon be published, and, then, a memoir, but I can find no record of either. He's variously written that he expects to be paroled and that he never will be. Somehow he appears to have gotten married, then divorced. On the Date an Inmate Facebook site last year, he described himself as a multifaceted gem, a youth mentor, and that the memoir about "that time" when he "did some pretty bad things" would be coming out soon. "I have a myriad of friends and I'm extremely charismatic. I find that people either love me or hate me; there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground. . . . Definite turn-offs for nonromantic friendships are any type of hate or religious zealotry. Those are major no-no's for me. And, additional turn-offs for a possible romantic relationship are: smoking, any drug use, or an unhealthy lifestyle. Trust me, I hold myself to the same standards."
Despite having admitted to the NIS that he had kicked Schindler in the head and side, in exchange for his testimony against Helvey—which they didn't need because of Helvey's remorseless confession—Charles Vins served only 78 days before being discharged.
Each year, joined by his Mother, the Chicago Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) conducts a memorial at Schindler's grave near the city.
For the full 1993 NYT article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/…/what-the-navy-taught-allen-schindl…