The Gay Soldier In World War II

Gay: Dudley Cave

Something that I’m admittedly not is a history fan, but this is an era in history that I keep wanting to know more about is World War II. The thing is that every time I bump on this period in books or movies, there is one question that comes to my mind.

What would happen to me if I lived during World War II? Of course, leaving out the fact that I have a disability. The reason is that people with any kind of disability were among the first group of people that got murdered. In the war camps, queer people were given a pink triangle to wear and if you want to read more about that click here.

When doing my research, I was hoping that I would find a queer story that isn’t too dark around wartime. That’s how I found the story of Private Dudley Cave, who was a gay soldier. Before I start telling you about this awesome man. It’s interesting to note that based on the information we have about 250,000 gay and bisexual people served in the British armed forces during World War II.

Dudley Cave age 20, signed up and worked as a driver. After risking his life in WW II and after losing his life as a POW in a Japanese camp. When the war ended, most British soldiers who were gay were persecuted and put in jail by the military itself. As a Cave himself says as they needed more people to join, the military closed an eye when it came to their homophobic rules.

“They used us when it suited them, and then victimised us when the country was no longer in danger. I am glad I served, but I am angry that military homophobia was allowed to wreck so many lives for over 50 years after we gave our all for a freedom that gay people were denied”.

If a soldier was caught, they would change his unit or ordered to hard labour for a few weeks. To make them ‘real men’. In 1999, this ban was lifted, but sadly Dudley Cave didn’t live long enough to see this happening.




4 thoughts on “The Gay Soldier In World War II

  1. 1) Alan Turing, look him up. One of the first to break the enigma machine, but forced to undergo chemical castration when they found out he was gay. THAT SAME QUEEN THAT ORDERED THIS SAID SHE FORGAVE HIM, INSTEAD OF ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS FROM HIS FAMILY, ONLY A FEW YEARS AGO.
    2) All the gay prisoners of the Nazis were still forced to serve their terms, while the Jews and other prisoners of war were allowed to go free.
    3) People like you and me, born female but very much on the masculine side of things, even if we were full-blooded Germans, we would have been given the black triangle and sent to camps, or to a women’s prison at best. People talk about how “egalitarian” and “progressive” the Nazis were in infrastructure, healthcare, etc for their own, but these very bioessentialist in their thinking otherwise.
    4) The digging will be long and hard, but there are gay love stories during the Second Great War. I usually see one or two published per year, usually around October when it’s Pride History Month. Look up the old book «Stone Butch Blues»; while not during the war, in the era after the war it tells about lesbians (and maybe trans men before we realized we were a thing) who cross dressed and lived like men in factory jobs, to be able to support their partners and families. During the second wave of feminism, when women could more easily access such jobs, many went back to living like (very butch) women, while some continued to live on as men.

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