Gulf War Introduction (1970s-90s):

After a decline in support for the American military in the 1970s, the 1980s and early ‘90s saw a resurgence of patriotism and support for the armed forces. The American military intervened in Central America and the Middle East during this period with the largest conflict coming in the Persian Gulf. Though there was vocal opposition to these military conflicts in many gay communities, GLBT service personnel who went to the Gulf embodied the renewed sense of patriotism and purpose in the American military. During this same era, the military witnessed an expansion of women's roles, but these changes were hard fought. In the 1970s and 80s, as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and other auxiliary forces gradually gave way to a gender integrated military, women who served felt as if they were fighting a war in a time of peace. For lesbians in the service, this was a two front war.

The gay press in San Francisco focused its coverage on local protests of the Gulf War in February of 1991.
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Jeff Petrie served in the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield. Petrie is pictured here on graduation day with Naval Academy Superintendent Virgil Hill Jr. Photo courtesy of Jeff Petrie.
Growing up in rural South Carolina, Greg Mooneyham knew that he wanted to fly for the U.S. Air Force and that he was gay. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in the late 1980s.
Not long after he graduated from the Air Force Academy and earning his wings, Greg was sent to the Middle East during the build-up for Desert Storm. During the intense air campaign over Kuwait and Iraq, Greg flew 44 combat missions as well as one dangerous search and rescue mission, flying low over enemy territory.
Donna Jackson was honorably discharged from the military in January 1991 after demanding recognition of her homosexuality from top army officials. This was not the outcome she was hoping for; despite her objection to the Army's disregard to gays, she considers herself patriotic, and would have gladly served.
When Patty Duwel joined the Marines in the late 1970s, she learned how to iron uniforms and apply make-up at Parris Island—not exactly what she had in mind. She later joined the Navy and found that sexism wasn’t as much of a problem as homophobia. Marriage to a gay male friend helped protect her from investigations.

Melissa Herbert argues that lesbians in the military need two types of camouflage. They need to seem masculine enough to “cut it” in the military, but feminine enough not to be seen as lesbians.
This Catch-22 leaves all military women open to harassment, as they are sometimes required to “prove” their heterosexuality.
Sexual harassment cases in the 1980s and 90s focused attention on the interaction between gender and sexuality in a military that was still coming to terms with the evolving roles of women in uniform as Clinton proposed to lift the ban on gay service.