• Tyree Oredein, DrPH

Happy #LGBTQHistoryMonth! Let’s make sure it’s as #intersectional as possible!


Sergeant Perry Watkins

Sergeant Perry Watkins was a Black gay soldier who was among the first to challenge the ban against gay people in the US military. He was drafted in 1967 at 19. He was open about his sexuality and was accepted despite the military’s policy. After his tours ended, he successfully re-enlisted several times, despite several investigations into his sexuality. At times he would perform in drag for fellow troops under the name Simone. He remained active, even earning a B.A. in business administration during his tenure. Two years after his last enlistment, his special clearance was revoked due to his orientation. He filed a lawsuit challenging the revocation and the army responded by permanently dismissing him in 1984. In 1988 a federal court of appeals ruled in Sgt Watkins’s favor. The Bush Administration appealed the decision but in 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s decision and ordered his reinstatement. He settled for a retroactive promotion to Sergeant First Class, an honorable discharge, back pay, and full retirement benefits. Sgt Watkins died of AIDS-related complications in1996 at 47. #LGBTQHistory #QTPOCHistory #PerryWatkins #Intersectionality

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©2020 by Tyree Oredein, DrPH.