Fighting a different war

Podcast

Emma Vickers, last updated: 9th September 2012

2012 Annual Conference Lecture

Fighting a different war: contesting the place of the queer soldier in the mythology of the Second World War

Emma Vickers: Lecturer in Modern British History University of Reading

In the mid-1990s, the queer soldier finally became visible. On the streets, gay rights campaigners led by Peter Tatchell questioned the efficacy of the MoD's exclusion of queer personnel from the Armed Forces and the institution's apparent unwillingness to acknowledge that queer men and women had fought in two world wars for a country that criminalised their sexual expression. Within parliament, MPs who supported the lifting of the ban used the Second World War and the success of its queer personnel as evidence of the MoD's backward approach to the issue. This paper will explore this activity and discuss why the existence of the queer soldier in the Armed Forces between 1939 and 1945 continues to pose such a threat to the sanctity of the People's War.

 

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