LGBT History: Gay GI’s fought their own Holocaust in the US
Excerpt from the Book Coming Out under Fire The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two: In Combat, gay GIs pointed their guns at enemy soldiers. But some gay servicemen also found American guns pointed at them. Those who were caught having sex, or who were rounded up in systematic witch hunts at stateside or overseas bases, or who were asking for help coping as homosexuals in the service, found themselves fighting a war for their own survival. As officers began to discharge homosexuals as undesirables, the gay GIs who were their targets had to learn how to defend themselves in psychiatrists’ offices, discharge hearing rooms, hospital wards, and “queer stockades.” There they were interrogated about their sex lives, locked up, physically abused, and subjected to systematic humiliations in front of other soldiers.
Officers who conducted interrogations were neither friendly nor understanding. Their jobs was to extract confessions and the names of others homosexuals by systematically destroying a suspect’s emotional defenses. Confessions were the proof needed to issue a discharge, and names helped interrogators round up more suspects. The interrogations usually began with some form of confinement or restriction to barracks, often under armed guard. Many patriotic gay soldiers and sailors felt betrayed by their government when they were thrown into locked wards with violent psychotics, suspected criminals, and prisoners of war.
In December 1943, Pvt. Norman Sansom was admitted to a locked psychiatric ward at Walterboro Army Air Field in Georgia, he discovered that all the other ‘patients’ were German prisoners of war except for two other gay American soldiers. Making the best of a bad situation, the three gay patients cheered themselves up by teaching the Germans how to sing “This is the Army, Mr. Jones.” “I can still here them now on the ward,” Sansom recalled. “Every morning we’d have our little ‘musicale.’ They couldn’t speak any English at all, but they were able to sing, ‘Dis is dee Army, Mister Shones.’”
Gay men who were locked up sometimes were terrorized by sadistic guards who, in private areas of the stockades, subjected them to psychological torture. “They treated us like scum,” recalled Bill Thompson, who was placed with other men from Noumea under Marine Corps guard in the brig said, ‘You sons of bitches are going to eat out of garbage cans! Get the fuck out of here!“
“You wouldn’t believe the treatment in the brig,” added David Barrett, who was also shipped to Treasure Island. “There was a guy called Big John. He lined us up in front of all the inmates there who were murderers, rapists, thieves- everything you could think of. He lined us up and he just tore us apart. He told all the rest of them that he thought more of them because we were the scum of the fucking earth.”
As David Barrett and his gay brigmates were transferred from Treasure Island to Camp Shoemaker, in Pleasanton, California, they were thrown into the back of a truck. “Two young marines got in the truck with us,” Barrett recalled. “They said, 'Don’t open your mouth!’ And they sat there with their finger on the trigger of the gun aimed at us the whole drive over there. When we got out of that van, there was a lieutenant there and he said, 'Why didn’t you shoot the motherfuckers!’ That’s how we were greeted.”
Some guards stationed at the stockades believed that homosexual inmates were available to them for sexual services and abused their power accordingly. At Treasure Island, Bill Thompson recalled, the “marines would come by and they’d get detail from the brig to go do something. There were three marines; they picked three of us. The marines just took them off somewhere and got blowjobs…” David Barrett reported similar sexual abuse at the Quonset hut in Noumea, where the Marine guards nightly escorted one man to the outdoor latrine to use him for their own pleasure. “The guards were all getting done,” Thompson explained, “ and then guarding the people that were blowing them! How do you like that! So if it came down to it, they could have put the whole goddamn armed forces in the brig!”
While this kind of abuse took place under cover, other officers more openly subjected homosexuals to public humiliation. When men in Noumea had to walk the quarter mile from the Quonset hut to the mess hall, David Barrett recalled, “we folded our arms in front of us. The rest of the hillside was lined with thousands of guys waiting to go chow, and the minute we’d start down, there’d be whistles all over the place. 'Oh, here come the girls!’ And it was a rough experince to go through.“ "Hey, fuckin’ fruits! Hey, queers!’” Thompson remembered them saying. “It was just humiliating to go through that, three times a day.” Norman Sansom remembered such an experience in Georgia as “one of the most traumatic things in my life. I just felt all of these eyes upon me and could hear 'fairy,’ 'fruit’, 'cocksucker.’ and I just wanted to block it out of my mind. It was almost like being in front of a firing squad.”
During a war time which American propaganda condemned the evils of fascism and intolerance, the men who had to endure brutal treatment for being gay, perceived the military as acting in ways that resembled the fascism they were supposed to be fighting. Whenever gay veterans, especially those locked up in queer stockades under armed guard, compared themselves to victims of the Nazis, they did not do so lightly. As Fred Thayer and his fellow inmates who were labeled with tags hanging from their shirts that said “Psychopathia Sexualis” were being transported from the hospital in New Caledonia to ship’s queer brig, the truck stopped at a disciplinary barracks to pick up Thayer’s friend from the cavalry company, whom he hadn’t seen in weeks. “He crawled into the back of the truck,” Thayer recalled, “looking like something from Dachau. I’ll never forget it. He took one look at me and fell in my arms and cried for the next hour and a half.” From his own ordeal, Thayer weighed “only 112 and I looked like a skeleton, like I’d been through hell. In a way I suppose I had. But it wasn’t from the Japanese and guns.”
THIS book was extremely influential on me. It was among the first books I found & read on my own time at the University of Iowa Library. It greatly influenced my young sense of homosexual identity. And so strongly was I affected by this (then) untold aspect of Modern History, that I read & studied (on my own time, independent of class studies) a great deal on the early homosexual rights movement — which began in Germany in the late-19th Century. It is one aspect of History which is largely unknown (and ignored) by most straight people.
“THE MEN WITH THE PINK TRIANGLE” (this edition) affected me profoundly.
I’ve been taught stuff about the Holocaust since before I can remember and not once was this mentioned. I’m going into my freshman year of college come mid-august. ?????? Education system, what’re you doing?
So you know what, here, have some information on the pink triangle:
“Every prisoner had to wear a downward-pointing triangle on their jacket, the colour of which was to categorise them by “kind”. Other colors identified Jewish people (two triangles superimposed as a yellow star), political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “anti-social” prisoners, and others the Nazis deemed undesirable. Pink and yellow triangles could be combined if a prisoner was deemed to be gay and Jewish.”
Between the years of 1933 and 1944, it’s rumored that approximately 50,000 to 63,000 homosexual men were convicted of homosexuality and sent to concentration camps.
Then, around the end of the 1970s, the [pink] triangle was adopted as a symbol for gay rights protest.
“Some academics have linked the reclamation of the symbol with the publication, in the early 1970s, of gay concentration camp survivor Heinz Heger’s memoir, The Men with the Pink Triangle.”
“In 1995, after a decade of campaigning, a pink triangle plaque was installed at the Dachau Memorial Museum to commemorate the suffering of gay men and lesbians.”
Why does no one talk about the fact that blacks also suffered in the holocaust or that gays did as well like it's seen as just something that happened to Jewish people when it was a whole lot more horrible things happening as well
Benkof, David. “AIDS Is A Gay Disease.” The Daily Caller. N.p., 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.
“Aids is a gay disease” is located on a very conservative news website. Even though you may not agree with gay marriage or gay people. Journalism should still be unbiased. The article written by David Benkof is full of logical fallacies. Benkof immediately started the paper off with a false analogy. Benkof starts by relating the Holocaust to Aids “much as the Holocaust was a Jewish event, AIDS in the United States is a gay disease.” (Par.2) Not only is the analogy outlandish and false, it was also unrelated to the overall point of the article. The article is pertaining to Aids and the gay community, so the holocaust is completely irrelevant in this sense. This is also where Benkof starts to set up his second logical fallacy, the appeal to fear. By mentioning the Holocaust, the genocide of thousands of people, he already placed a negative connotation on the piece. Although that happened in the past people still have very strong negative emotions tied to it. By associating something that brutal with Aids and gay men, he is instilling and relying on fear. The LGBTQ+ community has previously tried to separate themselves from the fact that aids is only a gay disease. There are other ways to contract Aids yet he focuses solely on how it affects gay men. By failing to mention the other ways to contract Aids he is using another logical fallacy. He is using the fallacy confusing cause and effect. Benkof states that gay men are 55% of the people who have contracted Aids. Yet they are only 2% of the entire population, so it makes that number significantly smaller. Clearly the other 45% are contracting Aids somehow. Such as through dirty needles, which you can contract through drugs, tattoos, and piercings. Benkof commits multiple logical fallacies throughout his article and they significantly weaken his argument.
Sodomite Suppression Act Ballot Initiative currently taking place in California. Matt McLaughlin, who is also an attorney, would like the people of California to vote on whether or not they want a law to “put to death by bullets to the head” all gay people or “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification.”
Apparently, it is not illegal to file papers with the State of California calling for the genocide of a group or class of citizens.
This is beyond ridiculous, it’s 2015 and not only are human civil rights STILL an issue, and now we have a politician proposing the genocide of homosexuals. Wait a minute, this sounds familiar. Oh yeah, the holocaust and Adolf Hitler.
As I young Gay American citizen I am appalled that people like McLaughlin are out there calling for my execution or death by “any other convenient method”. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking that because I love a man that I deserve to be shot like an animal.
So, during the holocaust gay men and women had triangles put on their clothes to identify them. Since then, the LGBTA* community has taken the symbol and turned it into a symbol of Pride. I’m very proud of who I am, even if I’m not ready to tell my family, and this is one of the best ways to express that.