First: Gay Military Memorial in D.C. Congressional Cemetery's 'Gay Corner'

First: Gay Military Memorial in D.C. Congressional Cemetery's 'Gay Corner'

A special memorial to gay military veterans is scheduled to be placed in the “gay corner” of the Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill.

Cemetery president Paul K. Williams said the stone memorial will be near “the ‘gay corner,’ thought to be the only LGBT cemetery section in the world,” reports the Washington Examiner.

The design of the memorial, pictured at the website of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans Memorial Project, shows three black granite panels, standing 11 feet high, 5 feet wide, and one foot in depth. Each panel will have two of the six service emblems on them.

“For the past twenty years LGBT veteran groups have held ceremonies at Congressional Cemetery,” states the memorial’s website. “Notable among those groups is American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), the oldest of the LGBT veteran groups in the nation. AVER celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2011.”

The site of the memorial is near the grave of former Air Force sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a Bronze Star recipient, who announced he was gay on the cover of TIME magazine in 1975. He was discharged and later died of AIDS.

In a press release, the project announced that the memorial “will serve to educate others on the sacrifices made by LGBT veterans to secure freedom for all citizens of the United States, and it will provide a place of honor and reflection for LGBT veterans and their families.”

“Many other LGBT veteran groups have formed in recent years, and the Cemetery provides a welcoming space in the nation’s Capitol to honor our living and our dead,” the website states. 

“The political climate is such that it would still take years to get Congressional approval to place a monument on the Washington Mall,” the site continues. “That should be a goal for the future. This memorial will differ from a monument on the Mall in that veterans will be able to memorialize their service on the grounds of the National LGBT Veterans Memorial.” 

“Our veterans deserve to have a place to carry out the charge by Leonard Matlovich to set an example for those activists who follow us by leaving ‘a lasting record of our accomplishments — including the acknowledgment that you were gay or lesbian’ (bisexual or transgender),” the website states.

Last month, The Washington Post reported that the National Health Interview Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 1.6 percent of respondents self-identified as gay or lesbian. Even fewer, 0.7 percent, self-identified as bisexual. The outcome of this study strongly suggests that the gay population in the United States is far less than perceived.


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