Coming Out Under Fire. The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. Twentieth Anniversary Edition. By Allan Bérubé. With a new foreword by John. Coming Out Under Fire has ratings and 48 reviews. As Allan Berube writes at the close of this book, “the generation of gay men and women who served in. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. Allan Bérubé . Coming home with a stronger sense of themselves as gay.

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The gamut of experience is laid out here, from the difficulty gay soldiers sometimes had just getting in and finding their place in the service and the harrowing abuse and persecution many faced during and after discharge, to the eye-opening small-town gays and lesbians experienced on being moved to cities and discovering thriving gay culture for the first time, and the positions of respect and acceptance many were able to achieve in their units. A show-stopping vignette tells of a confused staff meeting in which straight officers in the Pacific Theater have to grapple with “the goings-on under the coconut trees.

They received little in the way of real help in understanding themselves, given that brube was considered a pathology. This book is so nuanced without being complicated.

I was hoping for more individual stories. Being gay was still considered a mental illness sexual psychopathy and was a reason for rejection from the armed services. The Legacy of the War. On the front, men saw their lovers maimed and killed.

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Homosexuality was deemed incompatible with military service – the old stereotypes of gay men as effeminate, weak, flighty, hysterical, physically incapable doing their part to reinforce this belief. I want to start this off by first acknowledging the important work Berube did in this book; this book was definitely groundbreaking when it was published, and importantly, legitimized the service of gay and lesbian veterans of World War II.


Among the many histories of fighting men and women in World War II, little has been written about the thousands of homosexuals who found themselves fighting two wars–one for their country, the other for their own survival as targets of a military policy that sought their discharge as “undesirables.

The stigma attached to these discharges was not an accident. These were all-male shows for each other that almost always featured female impersonation, and coincidentally provided a temporary refuge for gay males to let their hair down and entertain their fellows. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

However, it was almost too informational for my taste. Caught during their processing for discharge in battles between friendly and hostile officers, they found themselves thrown around like footballs in a game over which they had no control.

They happened during my service in the s.

Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two

Psychiatrists even talked about two other forms of homosexuality – paranoid personalities who suffered “Homosexual panic” and schizoid personalities who displayed “homosexual symptoms. The witch hunts, I had heard about.

I learned A LOT reading this. The author did an excellent job collecting source material from the people involved and didn’t have to rely solely on statistics and case files. Jan 13, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: Coming Out Under Fire is a thoroughly fascinating, detailed study of a crucial transitional period in American society.

Which might result in a commanding officer looking the other way and telling them they were valuable to the unit and to just keep it under wraps. Coming Out Under Fire: That they lived and fought and served, and also loved and laughed and danced, is a tribute to the human spirit.


Freedman, this book remains a valuable contribution to the history of World War II, as well as to the ongoing debate regarding the role of gays in the U.

Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two by Allan Bérubé

This, combined with some time-honored stereotypes about gay men, led to the notion of homosexuality as a personality trait or mental disorder, depending upon whom you asked to be screened for and excluded. Despite all this, many gay men and women served throughout the war with distinction. Just as Tire fought for the right to serve in all branches of the armed forces, during WWII, young gays and lesbians did their part.

Citing articles via Google Scholar. Consequently, many blue-discharge veterans found it difficult impossible to find employment, but when they applied for unemployment insurance, or small business loans, or college assistance, they were denied in a Catch situation.

The unprecedented scandal fired over-active imaginations, and the nation’s schizophrenic reactions demonstrate a tortured clash between berubr hatred and military necessity. The contribution gay men and women have made throughout history is too often ignored or sidelined as a niche category of historical studies. At any moment someone might object to a gesture or even a look, report you in the wrong quarters, and the result could be a long prison sentence.

Animating the book are many well chosen first-person accounts, including interviews with gay vets who survived the war. Don’t have an account?