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Leonard Matlovich
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Military Personnel
    (July 6, 1943-June 22, 1988)
    Born in Savannah, Georgia
    Vietnam veteran
    Came out as gay to his superiors and was discharged from the Air Force (1975)
    Sued for reinstatement
    Later opened a pizzeria and sold used cars
    Died of complications from AIDS
    He said that as a teen, he was a 'white racist.'
    When he came out to his parents, his father 'cried for about two hours.'
    He was excommunicated twice by the Mormon church.
    His prediction that his case against the Air Force would be another 'Brown vs. the Board of Education' didn't really pan out, considering that it took another decade and a half before the military would adopt a policy of 'you can be gay as long we don't have to hear about it.'
    He became increasingly uncomfortable about being a symbol for gay rights.
    He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.
    After finishing his cry, his father said, 'If he can take it, I can take it.'
    His suit against the Air Force was settled out of court for $160,000 and an upgrade of his discharge to honorable.
    The epitaph on his tombstone reads, 'When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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