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A Letter from Perry Watkins on his Mistreatment in the Army

Perry Watkins was a gay African American soldier who was drafted to serve in the army during the Vietnam War. He was open about his sexuality throughout his entire career. Despite this, in 1981, the army revoked his security clearance after 13 years of service. Army officials stated that his homosexuality made him unfit to serve. Watkins filed a lawsuit in response, citing the fact that the army had been aware of his sexuality since he was first drafted, and that he had served faithfully ever since. The following is an excerpt of a legal letter of appeal that Watkins wrote in 1981.

I submit that I have been consistently penalized for my honesty. I will always continue to admit my homosexuality in the future. The Army has seen fit, on numerous occasions, to decide that my homosexuality is no obstacle to my military career.

Source | “I submit that …” Perry Watkins Document: Letter to Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, HQ Department of the Army, Washington DC, From Staff SSG Perry J. Watkins, February 1981.
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | “A Letter from Perry Watkins on his Mistreatment in the Army,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 8, 2023,

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