Tag Archives: Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day Tribute: Technical Sgt. Leonard P. Matlovich America’s 1st. Out Gay Serviceman

Veterans Day Tribute: Sgt. Leonard P. Matlovich America's 1st Out Gay Serviceman - 1975 Video Interview
Today on Veterans Day we honor all Americans who have served in the armed forces.

One man who must be honored for his bravery to our country and our community is Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich

Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.  He was also the first gay service member to fight the ban of gays in the military. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian service members and the gay community.

In March 1974, previously unaware of the organized gay movement, Matlovich read an interview in the Air Force Times with gay activist Frank Kameny who had counseled several gays in the military over the years. He called Kameny in Washington, D.C. and learned that Kameny had long been looking for a gay service member with a perfect record to create a test case to challenge the military’s ban on gays. Four months later, he met with Kameny at the longtime activist’s Washington, D.C. home. After several months of discussion with Kameny and ACLU attorney David Addlestone during which they formulated a plan, he hand-delivered a letter to his Langley AFB commanding officer on March 6, 1975. When his commander asked, “What does this mean?” Matlovich replied, “It means Brown versus the Board of Education” – a reference to the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case outlawing racial segregation in public schools.

Perhaps the most painful aspect of the whole experience for Matlovich was the revelation to his parents. He told his mother by telephone. She was so stunned she refused to tell Matlovich’s father. Her first reaction was that God was punishing her for something she had done, even if her Roman Catholic faith would not have sanctioned that notion. Then, she imagined that her son had not prayed enough or had not seen enough psychiatrists. She later admitted that she had suspected the truth for a long time. His father finally found out by reading it in the newspaper, after his challenge became public knowledge on Memorial Day 1975 through an article on the front page of The New York Times and that evening’s CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Matlovich recalled, “He cried for about two hours.” After that, he told his wife that, “If he can take it, I can take it.”

During his September 1975 administrative discharge hearing, an Air Force attorney asked him if he would sign a document pledging to “never practice homosexuality again” in exchange for being allowed to remain in the Air Force. Matlovich refused. Despite his exemplary military record, tours of duty in Vietnam, and high performance evaluations, the panel ruled Matlovich unfit for service and he was recommended for a General, or Less than Honorable, discharge. The base commander, Alton J. Thogersen, citing his service record, recommended that it be upgraded to Honorable. The Secretary of the Air Force agreed, confirming Matlovich’s discharge in October 1975. He sued for reinstatement, but the legal process was a long one, with the case moving back and forth between United States District and Circuit Courts. When, by September 1980, the Air Force had failed to provide US District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell an explanation of why Matlovich did not meet their criteria for exception (which by then had been eliminated but still could have applied to him), Gesell ordered him reinstated into the Air Force and promoted. The Air Force offered Matlovich a financial settlement instead, and convinced they would find some other reason to discharge him if he reentered the service, or the conservative US Supreme Court would rule against him should the Air Force appeal, Matlovich accepted. The figure, based on back pay, future pay, and pension was $160,000.

Leonard Matlovich did not live to see the day when gay men and women could openly serve in the military. He died on June 22, 1988, less than a month before his 45th birthday, of complications from HIV/AIDS

His tombstone is meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans. It does not bear his name and simply  reads:

“When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

Below is the first television interview with Sgt. Leonard Matlovich from 1975.

The Bizarre Story Behind Gay Rights Hero Frank Kameny’s Headstone and Heir Timothy Lamont Clark

Kameny grave


Yesterday a newly installed memorial headstone for gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny  was installed as part of the annual LGBT Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community that is held each year at Congressional Cemetery.

The Kameny headstone along with a footstone bearing the slogan, “Gay is Good,” which Kameny coined in 1968, have been placed at a cemetery plot just behind the Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich grave. The plot was purchased by the LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters because of the Kameny estates lacking funds four years ago after the death of the gay rights legend

This comes after years of fighting between the Kamney family, friends, and his legal heir  Timothy Clark, a man of dubious reputation who has held the remains of Frank Kameny, one of the greatest gay activists hostage and  interned  in a storeroom of a Washington, D.C. cemetery over a three years after his death. Clark would  not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until HOBS signs over ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate.

But that never happened and while Clark at one time agreed to allowing half of Kameny’s ashes to be interned at the memorial,  in the end Timothy Clark broke his word and decided to inter all the ashes at an undisclosed location and asking the community to respect “his wishes and his privacy”.


 I just can’t do that because this is not Clark’s first disruption of sharing Kameny’s legacy.  Clark filed separate lawsuits against four of Kameny’s longtime friends and fellow activists, charging that they “wrongfully” removed property from Kameny’s house shortly after his death last October.  (The suits were later dropped) These charges were brought against the same men who helped Kameny financially to pay his bills and keep his house in the last years of his life as he was destitute.  While Clark contributed nothing to help

Clark had even gone as far as to have Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan trademarked as to make money off it.

Clark, and his lawyer Glen Ackerman recently ordered D.C. gay activist Christopher Dyer to stop using Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan as part of the name of an LGBT rights website that Dyer launched on and demanded its removal even though Dyer explained to the estate that he would not be using the “Gay is Good” phrase for commercial profit and gain that made no difference.

“The executor of the estate has not made a decision regarding how to best utilize the trademark,” Ackerman replied in an email to Dyer. “As such, it is imperative that you cease using the phrase immediately. It is not relevant that you are not using the phrase for commercial profit or gain. The estate will enforce its trademark rights.”

Replied Dyer, the former head of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs, “Ok. I will cease from this point forward… On a personal note, I am frankly disgusted that the estate took this action. It wasn’t the intent of Frank to have this phrase trademarked.”

Dwyer who used the phrase to make “Gay is Good, Make LGBT Great” for a newly created Facebook page to serve as “a page that highlights individuals who are doing work to make the lives of LGBT people great.”

Ackerman told the Washington Blade (and it must be noted that Mr. Ackerman is also The Washington Blade’s attorney) that the estate declares in its application for the trademark that the objective of the trademark is to ensure that the slogan is always used as intended by Kameny – to promote LGBT equality in a dignified and respectful manner but also added “This slogan that Frank Kameny coined in 1968 is his intellectual property,” Ackerman said. “Frank owns it. It is historical. We are protecting it so that it will always remain connected to Frank, not Christopher Dyer, not other people, but to Frank.”

This is just some in a long line of incidents that have occurred between Kameny’s executor Timothy Lamont Clark and the gay community since Franks passing. And  while we finally have a memorial to one the greatest gay rights leader ever we will never know, the whereabouts of his ashes lay will not be because of pettiness and greed.

To read more on this subject:





New Details Emerge In The The Horrific 1992 Gay-bashing Murder of U.S. Navy Serviceman Allen Schindler

allen schnindler


Last month in one of B2S.com’s many gay history lessons we discussed the horrific 1992 gay-bashing murder of U.S. Navy serviceman Allen Schindler.

Now thanks to San Francisco activist, and highly regarded citizen journalist Michael Petrelis, A 900-page file from the Navy has been made public, via the  Freedom of Information Act about Schindler’s murder which exposes facts of the Navy’s  vile homophobia and its cover-up in his murder case.

Allen Schindler, was a young U.S. sailor, stationed in Sasebo, Japan in 1992. After numerous episodes of verbal and physical harassment and beatings, Schindler tried to get out of the military. On October 27, 1992, Schindler was brutally beaten and killed by two his fellow sailors. The murder took place in a men’s restroom of a public park. Schindler’s head was bashed repeatedly against a urinal so violently that the porcelain broke. His own mother, Dorothy Hadjys, was unable to identify her poor sons mutilated and disfigured corpse.

The Navy covered up the Schindler killing, granting a sweetheart immunity plea bargain to one of the suspects, Charles Vins, and convicting the other, Terry Helvey. But gay friends of Schindler’s demanded that justice be served; they shared information about the miscarriage of justice with the Stars & Stripes newspaper, which wrote the first news story about the murder and  Petrelis himself lobbied for justice for Schindler, and to hold the Navy accountable.

“Allen Schindler was destined to become yet another gay man killed and forgotten,” said Michael Petrelis. “Now, 23 years after his death, we finally share the full details of his murder. In doing so, we honor his memory on Veterans Day 2015. People must know the role that governmental homophobia played in his murder and the subsequent cover-up.”

Mike Petrelis is sharing the Allen Schindler file and has highlighted eight pertinent facts about the gay-bashing murder that have never been shared before with the media or public.


The U.S. Navy’s Gay Witch Hunt: 8 Facts About the Schindler Murder

Revelations in the Allen Schindler file include:

1. A Sodomy Witch Hunt: During its wide-ranging and comprehensive criminal investigation, the Naval Investigative Service questioned Schindler’s acquaintances in the service. However, telling the truth about Schindler made his colleagues vulnerable to persecution under the military’s archaic anti-sodomy laws. ( Pages 286 – 297 )

2. Constant Anti-Gay Harassment: Allen Schindler’s berthing area on his ship, the USS Belleau Wood, was defaced with the words “ball-gazer” — just one part of a constant and escalating campaign of homophobic harassment he faced from fellow sailors. ( Page 729 )

3. A Diary of Persecution: Allen Schindler meticulously chronicled the anguish and abuse he experienced in a diary he kept in the weeks leading up to his murder. The entire diary, part of the evidence at trial, is now available to the media. ( Pages 379-412 )

4. Public Humiliation: Radioman Petty Officer Schindler filed for a discharge because of his homosexuality and requesting a closed and private hearing. Instead, sadistically, the ship’s captain discussed the matter in front of other shipmates, accelerating the climate of danger that led to Schindler’s brutal killing. ( Page 133 )

5. Private Humiliation: Medical examiners performed post-mortem rape protocol tests on Schindler’s corpse by taking a rectal swab and mouth smear. (Page 570)

6. Perjury: Terry Helvey, the convicted killer now serving a life sentence at the Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary, initially made a bogus confession to naval authorities. Later, it was amended in his own hand-writing and presented to the judge, including honest details of the fatal beating and killing of Allen Schindler. ( Page 608 )

7. Beaten to Death: Accomplice Charles Vins, who served only four-months in the brig in exchange for testimony against Helvey, confessed to kicking and stomping Schindler as he lay dying on the public restroom floor. Vins also admitted guilt to a sodomy charge, but did not name his sexual partner. Because of his sweetheart deal, Vins was protected from the typical punishment for servicemen convicted for sodomy. He was ultimately given an honorable discharge in June, 1993. ( Pages 27, 753-761 )

8. Gay Media Watchdogs: The Navy closely monitored the gay media’s coverage of the investigation and trial, paying particular attention to stories in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, Chicago’s Windy City Times and San Diego’s Update. ( Pages 133, 182 – 186 )

8. The Murder Scene: Local Japanese police in Sasebo took extensive photographs of the crime scene within hours of Schindler’s brutal death. These graphic images were shared with the Naval investigators, who nonetheless covered up the facts. ( Pages 516-562 )

On this Veterans Day let us all remember Allan Schindler.  A noble and patriotic life wasted not on the battlefield of war.  But on the battlefield of hatred and homophobia.

FBI file available for viewing at:  www.dropbox.com/s/htkw50xgrzt5b2l/r_2015-001627%20Release.pdf .

A Veteran’s Day Message From Lt. Dan Choi

“As we fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ we know that this fight can easily be more painful than physical combat, as the people we fought to protect subject us to the harsh bigotry of popularity polls and the soft bigotry of political inaction. Caught in this battlefield, it is easy to claim victimhood and suffocate in the sadness of national betrayal. Gay Americans, like all scapegoated and stigmatized minorities in America’s history, know this feeling all too well. But just as all the patriots who had to come home to fight for equality, we cannot heal our injuries by permanent sorrow and self-pity. The only treatment that can heal the wounds of betrayal and hatred is a recommitment to fight for each other, to stand up for each other, to love one another.” – Lt. Dan Choi, in a Veteran’s Day message on The Huffington Post