Perry Watkins

perry watkins mgh podcast post 2

Access Points


This Give Voice to History Project instructional material prompts students to analyze and evaluate how individuals challenge laws, policies, and cultural practices to strive for extensions of liberty, as well as evaluating the concurrence of de jure and de facto discrimination relating to race. Recommended for grades 11+



Rationale for using archival audio oral history testimony


Listening promotes active engagement, improves reading, and helps students understand tone, message, and central themes. Listening is also critical to social-emotional learning development.



Learning outcomes, essential questions, background information, guiding questions, intersections with concurrent events, suggested connections to today's world, transcript, and more are included in the Give Voice to History Project curriculum.




Brief Introduction


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 more lax as the need for combat troops increased.


Meet Perry


Perry Watkins never thought he would be drafted into the military in 1968 because being homosexual would have disqualified him from military service. But he was drafted anyway, and 16 years later became an important civil rights champion when he sued the U.S. Army for denying him a security clearance because he was an admitted homosexual.




Perry Watkins archival audio oral history testimony


SALUTE TO PERRY WATKINS 24" x 36" classroom poster (below) is included in the full Give Voice to History Project curriculum set.