SSU History Professor Shares the Stories of Gay Vets in Nation's First Exhibit of Its Kind in SF

History professor Steve Estes is the curator of "Out Ranks," the nation’s first historical exhibit on the experiences of gays in the military, which is running through June 2008 at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. The one-year exhibition opened this past June as Congress began planning hearings on the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” military policy for the fall. The Society is one of the world’s largest institutions for of gay,lesbian, bisexual and transgender historical materials. Since 2002, Estes has been a volunteer interviewer for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, interviewing more than 50 GLBT veterans. These interviews were the inspiration for the Out Ranks exhibit and also the basis for Estes’s book entitled Ask & Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out.

Steve EstesIn that book, Estes charts the evolution of policy toward homosexuals in the military over the past 65 years, uncovering the ways that silence about sexuality and military service affected the identities of gay veterans. These veteran voices--harrowing, heroic, and on the record--reveal the extraordinary stories of ordinary Americans, men and women who simply did their duty and served their country in the face of homophobia, prejudice, and enemy fire.

Estes earned a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina in 2001 and has been a member of the faculty since 2002. As an associate professor in the history department, he teaches courses that focus on modern American history and civil rights.

"Out Ranks" tracks changes in military policy and conveys the stories of GLBT veterans and peace activists from WWII to Iraq. Almost 70 years of history is told through hundreds of letters, photographs, medals, uniforms and video footage. The GLBT Historical Society’s main gallery is located at 657 Mission Street, third floor, in San Francisco.

"Enforced silence has led to collective amnesia about the patriotic service and courageous sacrifices of gay and lesbian troops,” says Estes." "This exhibit tells the stories of some of our military’s most exceptional servicemembers during the most pivotal times in our country’s history." MORE



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