Over five million men served in the British armed forces during World War 2. Of these, it's likely that at least , were gay or bisexual based on projections from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles which found that six per cent of men report having had homosexual experiences. Before his death, he told me his story, with a mixture of pride and sorrow. I retell it here, in remembrance of a good friend. Having risked his life during WW2, and nearly died in a Japanese POW camp, Cave was angry that once the war was over Britain's gay soldiers were persecuted and jailed by the military authorities. I am glad I served but I am angry that military homophobia was allowed to wreck so many lives for over 50 years after we gave our all for a freedom that gay people were denied", said Cave.
FILM REVIEW; Gay in World War II: Abuse by the Military
BBC - WW2 People's War - A Gay Soldier's Story
Instead, it actually helped create a gay minority identity in the U. This change — punishing people for their gay identity as opposed to punishing people for same-sex conduct — was led by developments in psychiatry at the time , which cast homosexuality as a mental illness. While soldiers would eventually be punished just for being gay, it was still much easier for military officials to expel gay service members if they had proof of gay sex taking place. Although the U. Though they had to conceal their sexuality from draft boards, many gay service members had their first gay experience while serving during World War II. Before the s, soldiers accused of committing sodomy were often court-martialed, discharged and sent to military prison.
Persecution of Homosexuals in the Third Reich
The war had just ended - Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ashes - but most soldiers in Asia remained on active duty in the all-male environments they'd become accustomed to. They were starved of relationships with women, so the fantasy of screen idols was an intense one. When someone spoke about Marlene Dietrich, things got steamy. One of the horny soldiers, writes Roderic Anderson in his memoir Free Radical , said how much he wanted sex.
The post was accompanied by a picture of a pink triangle — the symbol officials in Nazi Germany used to identify and ostracize gay concentration camp prisoners — and a quote drawn from the website for The Pink Triangle of San Francisco, an annual event remembering those victimized under Nazi rule:. At the end of the war, when the concentration camps were finally liberated, virtually all of the prisoners were released except those who wore the pink triangle. Many of those with a pink triangle on their pocket were put back in prison and their nightmare continued.