The End… At least until Orientation is Over

This weekend I was in D.C. and completed my final two oral histories for the summer. I spoke with two gay recent alumni and was interested to here how much our campus, state, and country have changed in the last 4-10 years. For this final blog post I thought I would post one of the articles I found as I started to go through the Richmond Afro-American.

This article details a case from August 16, 1980 in which eight women were charged by the U.S. Navy for “suspected lesbianism.” This was a dischargeable offense and all three women were brought to Naval Court. In the first case in court, Tangela Gaskins, age 25, was forced to listen to and testify about very personal details of her sex life just to fight for her career in the Navy. A boyfriend was brought in and questioned about the intimate details of their relationship and asked if he ever thought she had homosexual tendencies. It was quite astounding to see what damage was possible if someone suspected an armed services member of presumed homosexuality since this “lifestyle” was deemed illegal by the Navy and other branches of the armed services. Lives were ruined, temporarily or long term, and these government entities were able to use their positions of power to control the private sex lives of those devoting their lives to military service. Below are both the original article and a follow-up story (making front-page news!) about the end of the full investigation.

My time with the microfilm reader in the basement of Swem has come to a close for now. I do, however, have at least 3 more people I am scheduling to be interviewed and a few more that are interested. I plan to work on this throughout the start of school and possibly semester. Once I am done welcoming all the new freshmen to campus and Convocation is over!

“Female soldier cleared”

“Lesbian case ends after spicy testimony”

“Lesbian case ends after spicy testimony” Part 2