SOME OLDER BOOKS ON GAYS IN THE MILITARY AND IN OTHER “SENSITIVE” JOBS

 

Jim Holobaugh. Torn Allegiances: The Story of  a Gay Cadet (Alyson, 1993). Holobaugh was a top-performing ROTC cadet who told his commandant that he was gay in 1989. The Army would try to recoup his scholarship money. Recoupment attempts exploded into a big issue in the 1990s after the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy was instituted, as SLDN has documented and fought many cases. The book is compelling and has attractive black-and-white photos of Jim and his partner, on events like camping trips in the Great Smokies, where they survived a harrowing April blizzard North Carolina, the South, but at 6000 feet) one time.

 

Jose Zuniga. Soldier of the Year: The Story of a Gay American Patriot (Pocket Books, 1995) is the autobiographical account of the Sixth Army Soldier of the Year, who was given the boot after he outed himself in a well-staged journey and press announcement. In 1993, he addressed the crowd: “I am not an activist, nor am I looking to pin a pink triangle beside my medals.” He did want his career to continue.  He would embark pm clandestine operations; Jose planned to make sure he could be present at the gay pride march (with phone impersonations of Star Wars critters), before the Army would discover about his intended self-outing. Zuniga's story is interesting for historical reaons. He  actually spent time in the Persian Gulf, and, as a combat medic, had tended to defecting and surrendering Iraqi soldiers (often in wretched condition, on the verge of foot amputations) as they fled from the constant shelling of their hunkered down positions in the weeks before the 100-hour ground war cakewalk.

 

Mary Ann Humphrey, My Country, My Right to Serve: Experiences of Gay Men and Women in the Military, World War II to the Present (New York: Harper Collins, 1990) is a very useful pre-Clinton anthology of the stories of a number of gay and lesbians soldiers and sailors (including women) booted out under the old “absolute ban” against gays in the military. Joseph Steffan’s reports his story here in some detail, before he wrote his own book, “Honor Bound.”

 

Marc Wolinsky and Kevin Sherrill, editors, Gays and the Military: Joseph Steffan versus the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), gives all the major affidavits and district court opinion.  I attended the DC Circuit Court of Appeals en banc hearing of the Steffan case in May 1994, when one of the justices joked from the bench, “the military doesn’t want me, either.” Review of Steffan's Honor Bound (1992) is at this link.

 

Robert Graham, Military Secret (Dallas, TX: Monument Press, 1993). This book is practically a diary of his service during Desert Shield and Desert Storm of the Persian Gulf War. Interesting is his mention of the chess games, and the discomfort caused by heavy cigarette smoking of other sailors in a confined environment. In fact, the military and Veterans Administration spend much more on smoking-related illness than on AIDS. 32% of the military population smokes cigarettes, compared to 22% if civilians (NBC "Dateline," June 18, 1997). The expensive (I bought it at Lambda Rising in Washington DC) paperback book is long and a bit hard to read, even if some of the anecdotes about Navy life are intimate and significant. I wrote to the publisher and sent them my Introduction (at the start of 1997) when I was airing my own opus, and they wrote back that "We have found that personal accounts do not sell very well."

 

Scott Peck. All American Boy. (1995, Scribner, ISBN 0-02-595362-1, 235 p, hardcover) is a "memoir" by the son of Marine Corps Colonel Fred Peck, who outed his son in Sam Nunn's hearings over gays in the military in 1993. His father would say that he did not believe that his son should serve in the military, as fine a person as he was otherwise. Scott would become an overnight celebrity, and a lesson in how any "ordinary person" can step into celebrity because of external events and political battles. For about ten months, he would host a Sunday night talk show, to which I often called in, as did Frank Kameny in discussing security clearances, and as did G&L service academy alumni. The show would eventually be canceled for lack of callers, although the volume was pretty good in the earlier months when the public debate over the "don't ask don't tell" policy was heated. The author should not be confused with M. Scott Peck, the psychologist who authored The Road Less Traveled and People of the Lie, both popular in the 90s. 

 

Frank Buttino. A Special Agent: Gay and Inside the FBI (New York, William Morrow, 1993). This is an autobiography of an FBI who led the closeted life of a gay man at the same time. In fact, he actually had a long term relationship with a Navy sailor, who was often away at sea, at the same time, so secondarily this is a “gays in the military” story. At one point, Buttino meets J. Edgar Hoover, and claims that Hoover’s behavior at the handshake point was more intimate than would normally be professionally appropriate. Hoover’s homosexuality has, of course, been widely rumored (in connection with Clyde Tolson). Today, the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA does not appear to have any formal policy like “don’t ask don’t tell” above and beyond what is socially and situationally appropriate conduct; yet the conditions for recruits are similar to those of service academies (although they are often older, minimum age something like 23, with work experience and degrees; often recruits already have their own families).

 

Robin Burkhe (editor). A Matter of Justice: Gays and Lesbians in Law Enforcement (New York, Routledge – now Baker and Taylor – 1996). This anthology presents the stories of a large number of gays and lesbians in law enforcement. The author presented her book at a reading at the Washington DC Lambda Rising in 1996.

 

Justin Elzie  (aka Justin Crockett Elzie). Playing By the Rules (2010, QueerMojo/Rebel Sartori Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60864-042-3. 227 Pages, paper.  Blogger.

 

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