Thursday, September 15, 2011

DADT Repeal Countdown: Day 5

Michael Bedwell, a tireless and stalwart activist who has worked to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military openly, wanted to remind many of us in the days leading to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell of the history of the struggle that so many of us have worked in.  Bedwell is the webmaster of and also was arrested with me in Washington DC.

One piece of that history is, of course, the legendary Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, the father of the American LGBT military movement.  Matlovich was the first gay man to ever come out while in the US military, an action that catapulted him into the national spotlight and began the long road which, for many, will be resolved in five days.

This gem is a video excerpt that Michael passed me of a made-for-TV movie documenting Matlovich's court case in which he sued to stay in the military.  He was unsuccessful, but the case was the first shot fired in a long, tireless war against government-sanctioned bigotry.

 Michael included these comments:

17 years before their film on Grete Cammermeyer, NBC broadcast this made-for-TV movie [the 1st about a living gay person]. While all concerned [including Rue McClanahan as his Mother] were well-intentioned, Leonard's real-life charisma was missing behind the cartoonish moustache they gave Dourif. Still, America learned more than they had before about gays in the military—and that same day the DoD announced that those discharged could apply for upgrades to Honorable.
I wonder how Leonard would feel today, as repeal approaches.  Would he celebrate?  Or would he be stopping short of jubilation and remind us that our transgender brothers and sisters still do not have the freedoms we are about to attain?

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