HONOR BOUND: A Gay American Fights for the Right to Serve His Country by Joseph Steffan

HONOR BOUND: A Gay American Fights for the Right to Serve His Country

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A controversial subject--the Defense Department ban on homosexuals in the armed forces--viewed from a highly personal perspective by a young man forced to resign from the US Naval Academy when he revealed his sexual orientation. Steffan was raised in a small Wisconsin town, the child of an intensely conservative Roman Catholic family. Even granting a milieu in which Sunday sermons and G-rated movies were apparently the major source of information about the outside world, the author's sexual naivetÉ is a bit hard to credit. He seems to have avoided confronting his possible gayness until he was well into his 20s. Accepted into Annapolis upon graduation from high school, Steffan was, by his own account, an exemplary cadet, rising to the rank of battalion commander by his fourth year. It was then that rumors of his possible homosexuality began to circulate, though Steffan insists that he had never engaged in overt sexual practices. When queried by a board of review, he admitted his gayness and was given the option to resign--or be discharged from the Academy. He resigned. Steffan's overdetailing of his naval experiences is nearly as numbing as a military training film, but the narrative tension begins to build when he contacts the Lambda Defense Fund and launches a courtroom challenge of the anti-homosexual policy. Much of his case rests on the findings of a Justice Department report stating that ""having a same-gender or an oppositegender orientation is unrelated to job performance in the same way as being left- or righthanded."" The case is still in litigation. An important, earnest work but flawed by stilted writing Readers may prefer to wait for Randy Shilts's upcoming book on the same general subject.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
Page count: 316pp
Publisher: Villard/Random House