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We're Here, We're Queer, and We're in the Public Record! The LGBTQ Movement and Life as Seen Through Government Information


To serve the country they love

LGBTQ people have served in the United States military since its inception. Prior to World War II there were no military policies explicitly prohibiting their enlistment, but in 1778 the first U.S. soldier was court-martialed for “attempting to commit sodomy”. There are a number of documented cases of women who dressed as men and fought in the Civil War. During WWII, Korea, and Vietnam wars “homosexuals” were deemed unfit for service based on the medical community’s assessment at the time that being LGBTQ constituted a mental disorder. Ironically, it was also post-WWII life that helped propel LGBTQ organzing and the modern LGBTQ community. In 1982, the Department of Defense declared categorically that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service”. In 1993, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) became law, allowing queer people to serve as long as they kept their identity secret. Obama repealed DADT in 2011.

All Soldiers Were Men?

There are a number of documented instances of women who fought as men during the United States Civil War. While it is unclear if all these women were lesbian or transgender in the way we think of the terms today, some were rumored to have had relationships with women. Albert Cashier (born Jennie Hodges) lived as a man, only to be discovered to have been born a woman long after the war. After being discovered, Cashier applied for a military pension--a pension application that included several letters of support from her fellow soldiers testifying that he fought alongside them and deserved his pension. The Military Pension Office agreed and Cashier was awarded his pension. After being discovered to be a woman, Cashier lived out the rest of his days in a mental institution where he was forced to dress as a woman.