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Coming Out Under Fire. The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. Twentieth Anniversary Edition. By Allan Bérubé. With a new foreword by John. Coming Out Under Fire has ratings and 48 reviews. As Allan Berube writes at the close of this book, “the generation of gay men and women who served in. Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. Allan Bérubé . Coming home with a stronger sense of themselves as gay.

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Coming Out Under Fire – Allan Berube – Google Books

This article is also available for rental through DeepDyve. Jan 05, Ai Miller rated it liked it Shelves: He also searched for letters lost in attics; letters between lovers, friends, comrades. Contact Alan Us Help. As military’s psychiatrists sought to begube the gay personality type, new ways of dealing Review by Elaine Taylor May points out that Berube’s is a pioneering work in the social history of gays in World War II.

Close mobile search navigation Article navigation. He finds that the experience of WWII was both that of increased surveillance and of a greater solidarity as a gay subculture developed in the military during wartime. He allowed us to enter this fascinating and previously little known secret world, a mere few years in history that had profound impact on gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals for decades after the war that created ripples which can be still felt today.

Some high level officials objected to the stigmatization of the gay soldiers under their command. Coming Out Under Fire. Despite all this, many gay men and women served throughout the war with distinction.

From the archives the author pieces together the American public and government reaction berbue the sudden, unavoidable appearance of homosexuals in combat units and elsewhere. Coming Out Under Fire: They also received pleas for tolerance from the war propaganda which portrayed American soldiers as defending the ideals of democracy, equality, and freedom against the totalitarian Axis.


I’ve been researching a historical fiction novel about queer men and women in WWII for some time now, and from the preface, I knew this is the book I was looking for. Men were sometimes put in chains, transported under the guns of soldiers who might be bigoted enough that the gay man wondered if he would get out of the transport alive.

For full disclosure, I skipped about half of uneer chapter on the reformation of the military penal system, and skimmed a bit of the final chapter on post-war attitudes towards gay people in part because it was deeply depressing and in part because it just wasn’t what I picked up this book for.

At other times the psychiatrists, who were charged with reporting a man’s or woman’s fitness alkan duty, might betray and report them. It’s extremely well-documented throughout, and although the author’s style might be considered dry, the pages come to life because of the words and lives of the people portrayed. Developing a drag performance style designated as “camping,” the gay servicemen claimed their own cultural space.

The contribution gay men and women have made throughout history is too often ignored or sidelined as a niche category of historical studies. Some would criticise this, but I liked it because it demonstrated to me how much this book me I’ve been researching a historical fiction novel about queer men and women in WWII alllan some time now, and from the preface, I knew this is the book I was looking for.

Challenging their undesirable discharges encouraged some to speak up for themselves, as did the experience of those who went home unwilling to hide their new sense of themselves.

Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two

This was a really interesting read. To really cominb the full story of coming out under fire I urge you to read the original. But it’s only partly so. And yet we persevered, says Berube, with an all-knowing wink the audience. Another in the unfinished pile sadly. I was left with a sense of awe.

I would have liked more human-interest, first person accounts, but it’s clear the purpose of the book was to encapsulate and address military policy towards homosexuals.


They received little in the way of real help in understanding themselves, given that homosexuality was considered a pathology. With the draft, GBT men were given no choice about joining up.

Psychiatrists Discover the Gay GI pp. The best parts of the book for me were those centering around lesbian women in the military–they were mostly free from the horrifying culture of masculinity that Berube described with gay men serving, and so I enjoyed them much more. For many, it was their first chance at a gay community, and many found roles as mascots and entertainers for the troops.

This is a non-fiction book, history, really, but so much of it reads like a good detective novel. During World War II, as the United States called on its citizens to serve in unprecedented numbers, the presence of gay Americans in the armed forces increasingly conflicted with the expanding antihomosexual policies and procedures of the military.

Coming Out Under Fire: It was during World War II that the concept of the ‘homosexual’ as an individual, a sexual identity as opposed simply to a sexual act, first took root – and was enough on its own for that individual to be discharged from the service, deemed a ‘sexual psychopath’.

It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Selected pages Title Page. They moved on to studies which categorized the personality characteristics of gay men — effeminacy, superiority and fear. This is a fascinating and often heart-rending exploration of both the experiences of the men and women themselves, and the differing approaches the military took during the course of the war in handling its ‘homosexual problem’.

The author interviewed dozens of soldiers, using their words to describe their experiences.