LGBTQ Military History

“World War II properly marks the beginning of the nation’s, and San Francisco’s, modern gay history." - John D’Emilio

During WWII, rejection from military service based on sexuality began to make headlines. In an effort to grow the military force, the process for evaluating a soldier's sexuality became a part of the enlistment. These screenings relied on stereotypes and prejudices, as officials had a limited time with each recruit. After enlistment, if a soldier was identified as a homosexual they received 'dishonorable' discharge. Which meant expulsion from the armed forces, no veterans benefits, and limited employment opportunities. Civil service members were also targeted by the Lavendar Scare, when about 10,000 were suspended from service because of their sexuality.

Of course, inspiring LGBTQ veterans rallied together to overcome these obstacles and forge a community. These men and women assisted the nation during times of battle and disaster, founded organizations and preserved their legacies. Independence, activism, spirit, and resilience—helped them carry forward the causes important to the LGBT community on and off military bases. Learn about the movements associated with LGBTQ rights in San Francisco and nationwide.

Discover the stories of people at Golden Gate, who fought against discrimination and changed the course of history.



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    Last updated: November 18, 2021

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