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Barbra's Coming Out Story

Gay in the Military

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I came out in 1976, thanks to the U.S. Navy. Of course, one had to be careful in those days. I imagine secrecy is still paramount, despite "don't ask, don't tell". It was a wonderful time, being stationed in the D.C. area, and I wouldn't trade all my experiences for the world.

When I joined the Navy, I had a strong feeling that I was gay. I had been attracted to women all my life, but being raised in a small town in Kentucky in the 50's and 60's, well, we just didn't talk about such things.

Military Discharges Gay Women

I met a lot of gay women in the Navy. Unfortunately, a lot of them were just too open and careless, and ended up being investigated and eventually discharged. They did not receive honorable discharges, either. I was a little wiser, and managed to get through four years of service without having my sexuality become a problem.

Secret Relationships in the Military

I had two serious relationships with fellow gay 'shipmates", and one relationship lasted long after we got out of the Navy. It was a very exciting time to be stationed in the D.C. area, there were two women's bars that I loved to go to, and there were always gay pride activities, and just a good supportive gay community. Despite the military's attitudes about gay service members, I think my time in the Navy was one of the happiest times of my life, perhaps because that was when I really came out to myself, and I enjoyed my work as well as my private life.

--Barbra

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