Salute to Perry Watkins

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Salute to Perry Watkins in honor of Veterans Day 2018


Background Information


There was no formal policy barring "homosexuals" from serving in the military until 1941, but same-sex relationships were cause for military discharge throughout United States military history. Still, LGBT+ people enlisted or were drafted into the military, and during both World Wars, LGBT+ people served the country bravely. This restriction on homosexuals serving in the military was implemented more forcefully in the 1950s when domestic anti-communism was inextricably connected to the fear of homosexuals and their perceived risk to national security. During the war in Vietnam, the policy became laxer as the need for combat troops increased. In 1993, under President Clinton, military policy was amended to allow homosexuals who did not reveal their sexual orientation to serve in the military. This "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was repealed in 2011. (Read Key Dates in U.S. Military LGBT Policy from the U.S. Naval Institute here.)



Introduction to Perry Watkins


Perry Watkins never thought he would be drafted into the military in 1968. Why? Because being homosexual would have disqualified him from military service. But Perry Watkins was drafted anyway, and 16 years later became an incidental civil rights champion when he sued the U.S. Army for denying him a security clearance because he was an admitted homosexual. Press "play" below and listen to the Give Voice to History Project featuring Perry Watkins, produced in partnership with Making Gay History - The Podcast.