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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: Film to mark 10th anniversary of ‘DADT ’repeal


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(Screen capture from ‘Surviving the Silence’)

An online showing of a recently released documentary film about a closeted lesbian Army officer who played a role in the discharge of highly acclaimed lesbian Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer from the Army National Guard in 1991 is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11

The showing of the film “Surviving the Silence” set for 5:30 p.m. EST is being hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California in partnership with the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., an advocacy group that specializes in searching for LGBTQ related archival documents.

The film showing is set to take place on the 10th anniversary of the repeal by Congress of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that called for discharging gays, lesbians and bisexuals from the military if they disclosed their sexual orientation and the disclosure became known to military officials.

“Here we were thrilled to come across ‘Surviving the Silence,’ the story of two women in love who played a part in shaping military history – along with the towering presence of Col. Margarethe ‘Gretha’ Cammermeyer,” a statement released by the Mattachine Society of Washington says.

According to a write-up on the film’s website, “Surviving the Silence” focuses on former U.S. Army Col. Patsy Thompson, a career officer in the Army National Guard who was directed to preside over a military review board hearing in July 1991 that deliberated over whether Cammermeyer should be discharged on grounds of homosexuality.

The film, based on interviews conducted years later, shows that Thompson was herself a lesbian in a longtime relationship with her committed partner Barbara Brass who struggled to keep her sexual orientation a secret while presiding over Cammermeyer’s trial-like hearing. The review board found that as a self-proclaimed lesbian Cammermeyer must be discharged under the then policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving in the military.
The film shows that based in part on procedural action taken by Thompson at the hearing, Cammermyer’s attorneys were able to persuade a federal court judge to overturn the discharge, resulting in Cammermeyer’s reinstatement in the Army in 1994.

The Mattachine statement says the online showing of the film was to be followed by a conversation with the entire cast of the film along filmmaker Cindy L. Abel. Among those scheduled to participate in the post-film conversation were Cammermeyer; Thompson; Thompson’s wife Barbara Brass; and gay former U.S. Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning.

Tickets, which are required for viewing the online showing of the film, can be purchased at a discount using the code STSP20 and selecting a “non-member” purchase option, according to Mattachine Society of Washington. Tickets can be purchased at this site.

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights