Graduate Review


While some queer World War II soldiers, like Christine Jorgensen, returned from war to become pioneers in the field of gender and sexuality, not all had the same support and experience. Anti-sodomy laws had a long history in the United States and its military, but no specific provision barred homosexuals from service until World War II. At the center of this change was the transition from a policy considering homosexual acts as a crime to a psychiatrist-controlled policy that homosexuality was an illness that made gay men unfit to fight. For those not excluded, the threat of an other-than-dishonorable discharge, or blue discharge, loomed overhead. While World War II served as a cultural shift for queer individuals’ prospects for future advancement of their civil and human rights, the threat of discharge from the United States armed forces undoubtedly conditioned a response and environment that fueled homophobic ideology as evident by the development of psychiatry and sociology on homosexuality during the war, the downplay of intimate homosocial experiences, and the trauma associated with hiding from one’s sexuality and being outed at the same time. Coming out could have also meant being disowned by one’s family, losing G.I. benefits, and struggling to find civilian work upon coming home from the war. To understand the complete psychological and social history of war, the experience of homosexual soldiers must be highlighted.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.