“A few months later, in advanced training at Fort Dix to become a clerk/typist, Perry [Watkins] was talking about the local gay hangouts with another gay draftee. Perry suggested they go barhopping the next weekend.
‘I won’t be here next week,’ the recruit said.
When Perry asked why, the young man said, ‘Because I’m gay.’
He had not even engaged in any sexual acts in the Army, he said. He had just told his commanding officer he was gay and they had started the paperwork to kick him out.
Perry marched into his commander’s office and explained that he was homosexual and that he wanted to be discharged. For a month, Perry did not hear anything. Then he was told that he could not be discharged for being gay, because he could not really ‘prove’ he was gay. In order to do that, he would have to be caught in a sexual act.
Perry contemplated this odd treatment. There was one difference between the draftee being bumped for being gay and himself, Perry observed. The other man was white. One other black friend of Perry’s had also checked the ‘yes’ box, Perry learned later, and was denied exemption; this young man had stopped the induction process finally by complaining to his congressman. It was interesting, but Perry didn’t have any grudge against the military; he did not fight his induction.”
Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military by Randy Shilts, page 63-64.
Perry Watkins was an openly gay black man who was drafted into the US Army in 1968. His is not the only case of an openly gay man being drafted during the Vietnam War, nor is it the only case of an openly gay man being drafted during wartime in the United States. Manpower needs overruled the military’s own regulations during times of war.