Monday, May 27, 2024

We Serve (Part 1)

We’re* Here, And We’re Queer also applies to the military.
Still Serving: ‘Surviving the Silence’ and LGBTQ Representation in the Military
Barbara Brass and Patsy Thompson’s ongoing story is one of love, commitment, and the power of individuals to make change.
Ms Magazine
May 24, 2024

In a film about the lives and service of a military officer and her spouse, Surviving the Silence, Barbara Brass reflected: “We just thought it would be a story of us holding hands, going quietly into the sunset. But it’s not.”

After the Obama administration had ushered in inclusive legislation for LGBTQ military members, the following one threatened to reverse everything. Although retired, Brass and her wife Col. Patsy Thompson were far from finished serving their country. As a now-married and openly lesbian couple, they were admittedly older, but most definitely bolder.

Let’s back up.

The girl who would one day become the Army National Guard chief nurse and play a part in repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military policy was born into a family that took seriously its duty as Americans. During World War II, they paid the price when Thompson’s brother died flying a Navy plane. She decided that, to do her part, she would join the military as soon as she could, and signed up upon graduating nursing school. Her service would span a career in Europe, Central America and the United States.

Her hardest assignment came right before retirement: presiding over a military hearing to discharge her colleague Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer for being a lesbian. Faced with enforcing a policy that she opposed, against a war hero she respected, with a critical need to protect her own secret, she was torn between duty and conscience. Risking her own career, she conducted the trial in way that led to Cammermeyer’s reinstatement via federal court and contributed to the eventual change in military policy.
We are queer and we serve.
I've been out as transgender in the US military for a decade, and I don't have any regrets
  • A transgender soldier shared her coming out journey and her experiences over more than a decade in the military.
  • Finding support in the queer community and organizations like SPARTA was key to her resilience in tough times.
  • She found support, transitioned, and fought to change military policies.
Business Insider
As told to Ella Sherman
May 25, 2024

I didn't think of being trans as an identity or as a social group or as a movement, it was more just experiencing dysphoria and wishing I could be free of it.

Going back as early as six or seven, I remember thinking that I would be a lot better off if I had been a girl like my sisters were.

I know this almost makes me a walking stereotype, and obviously, this isn't the case for everybody, but I felt like I always knew something was wrong, that it wouldn't be wrong if I was more like my sisters.

At the same time, I was trying to do the best I could with what I had in a deeply religious, deeply traditional household.
On this day let us remember all those who gave their lives for our country and they did it in silence, silence of their true-selves, and who we love.

*When I say "We" I mean the trans community


  1. I served as an infantryman in Vietnam. My squad leader suffered a serious open head wound. What set him apart was on every break in the daily patrol through the bush he read a paperback book. He was a great guy. Fast forward fifty years later and his obituary gave his life story which included owing a bookstore and was survived by his male partner. If Uncle Sam needed a guy for two years there were plenty of gays who served their country.

  2. Richard Nelson5/27/24, 7:48 PM

    My spouse of 47 years also served during the war on Vietnam and Cambodia. He was in the army during the Tet Offensive. He was a member of the group GI's against the war. Check them out and their stories. After his war years he came home and joined with other vets who opposed the war joining the Vietnam Veterans against the War. He continues today working against war and the genocide of the people of Palestine and the war against the people of the Ukraine. Today we listened to Buffy St. Marie sing Universal Soldier and read from Isaiah 2.4, They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up swords against nation and neither shall they learn war anymore. We need more vets like him. We need more people like some of us who know that war will end when we stop all of the phony armchair pushers from pushing the goodness and the military BS. Written in peace of Bay Rustin, David Mc Reynolds, Barbara Deming, Roberta Dickinson, and many other LGBTQI+ folks who know that war will end when people refuse to honor it and all that it holds dear and begin to think about their own individual responsibility on this planet of ours.