Lesbians and gay men were active participants in military service and other war efforts. The Women's Army Corps and other women's military auxiliaries attracted a large number of lesbians. Although there are no firm statistics, it has been estimated that some units were well over 50% lesbian.
An early smear campaign against the WAC accusing it of 'sapphic perversion' was not wrong, although no official history has admitted it. Indeed, save for the stories of the Wacs themselves, no one would guess that a lesbian had ever been admitted to the ranks. Long after the fact, various lesbians who had served claimed to have outed themselves and served openly as lesbians, but there is now overwhelming proof that these are fabrications (see this article about the most famous claimant).
Gay men, too, served in all branches of the armed forces and were even able, in rare instances, to be out in limited ways, as every man willing to serve was needed. Being a homosexual was not, by itself, grounds for military discharge during the war (this was introduced in the U.S. military in 1953). Some gay men have said that their most carefree, enjoyable days were during their military service. Others, however, were investigated, arrested, and given Undesirable Discharges.
Lesbians worked for the war effort in different ways. Janet Flanner, who had written columns for the New Yorker from Paris through the 1930s, and who had been part of the Natalie Barney coterie, became a war correspondent. Others worked as photographers, reporters, as nurses and fundraisers. Lesbian and bisexual Hollywood actresses entertained the troops. If a lesbian's sexual preference became known, she was often tolerated, because her work was necessary.
The post-war backlash against lesbians and gay men, as seen in the late 1940s and early 1950s anti-homosexual crusades (which equated homosexuality with Communism as a danger to the United States) was a parallel to the anti-woman campaign that drove women out of the workforce and back into the home. Their usefulness over, lesbians and gay men were driven into the closet for two decades.
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