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Pat Bond Describes the Military Purge of LGBTQ+ Service Members

Pat Bond was a member of the Women’s Army Corps (a WAC) during World War II. As a lesbian, she risked a “blue discharge” from the army if she was discovered. Blue discharges were highly stigmatized penalties for alleged dishonorable behavior and were given in disproportionate numbers to gays, lesbians, and African Americans. Receiving a blue discharge made it impossible for individuals to claim veterans’ benefits, and made it difficult for many to readjust to civilian life. After World War II, the U.S. military increased efforts to identify and discharge gay and lesbian service members, which Bond just managed to avoid.

This document is an excerpt of an interview Bond gave in 1986. In this interview, Bond refers to herself as a “dyke.” Originally a slur used to insult masculine-looking lesbians, the term was reclaimed by the lesbian community in the 1970s as a positive way to identify women who felt sexually attracted to other women.

I just knew the army was full of lesbians, so I ran off and joined the army...I had hoped the army would provide me with a community of women, but it didn't. I felt like an outsider. I tried like crazy to be a good butch, a real dyke, but it wasn't my nature. I'd sneak and put Chanel behind my ears. I tried to do the walk, but I couldn't carry it off for long. I tried to put on men's clothes and I looked like Laurel and Hardy. My figure is just not cut out for men's clothes. I'm too round….

Then they decided to crack down. After the war, when we were no longer needed, they decided to get rid of the dykes. So they had court martials. Every day you came up for a court martial against one of your friends. They turned us against each other. When I was living it, I didn't have any idea why they were doing this to us. I only knew they were throwing us out of the army with dishonorable discharges.

But I had married Paul Bond; in those days gays got ma ried to protect themselves and their families. Paul was gay and wanted to marry to make his family happy – so that they would think he was straight. I did it for a lark. It was a marriage in name only; we divorced in 1955. But if you were married, you could get out of the military. I wanted to protect the woman I was involved with, so I went to my C.O. and I said, "I want to get out because I'm married." She said, "You're what?" And I produced my wedding license and I got out. The only way I could figure out to save my lover was to get out. If I had been there, they could have gotten us both because other women would have testified against us. If someone said, "I saw them dancing, I saw them kissing," – that was enough. We would dance and kiss at that WAC's night home.

Source | Bond, Pat. “Tapioca Tapestry.” In Long Time Passing: Lives of Older Lesbians, edited by Marcy Adelman, 164-175.
Boston : Alyson 1986.
Item Type | Oral History
Cite This document | “Pat Bond Describes the Military Purge of LGBTQ+ Service Members,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 26, 2021, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/2792.

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