Soldier of Change: From the Closet to the Forefront of the Gay Rights Movement

Stephen Snyder-Hill. Univ. of Nebraska/Potomac Books, $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61234-697-7
The profound damage done to gay and lesbian soldiers under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is keenly observed in this memoir by Snyder-Hill, an openly gay soldier who gained national attention in 2011 when he was booed by Republicans during a presidential debate. Using this incident as a framing device, Snyder-Hill recounts his experiences, beginning at age 19, when he served in the first Gulf War under the ban on gays in the military, and in 2010, under DADT. After years of living openly, and rejoining the military after the September 11 attacks, his candid rendering of life in, out, and back in the closet is intentionally jarring and infuriating in its arbitrariness, while the generally relaxed, frequently humorous reaction in the military to his public coming out reveals much about the hurtful lie at the center of DADT. With courageous vulnerability, he reveals the pain and anger of being required to lie in order to serve. Leaving for Iraq, he is forced to pretend that his partner, Josh, is his brother, and while other couples say good-bye, he writes: “I looked over at Josh, and he was all alone.” Snyder-Hill offers a moving and insightful epitaph to a destructive policy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/14/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
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