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When the Military Expelled LGBTQ Soldiers With ‘Blue Discharges’

In May 1944, Lemuel S. Brown, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II, received a blue slip of paper from the military, notifying him he was being dismissed from duty. The reason? “Undesirable” behavior—specifically, an accusation of “attempting to perpetrate an act of Homosexuality,” as he explained in a letter to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, from whom he was seeking legal help. He wanted to fight his so-called “blue discharge,” since receiving it carried a powerful stigma and serious negative consequences for his future.

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