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30 Days of Pride: Leonard Matlovich

June 1st kicked off Pride Month! So for the next 30 days let's recognize the people who played pivotal roles in LGBTQ History.

DAY THIRTEEN 👉 LEONARD MATLOVICH

"Leonard Matlovich wasn't the first gay man to serve in the military, but he may have been the first to come out on such a public platform. For most of his life, including his years spent in Vietnam, Matlovich kept his true sexuality a secret from the world. Then in 1975, he decided to come out to his superiors.

An interview with The New York Times soon followed, and then a famous appearance on the cover of TIME Magazine that displayed his portrait above the words, "I Am a Homosexual." The story attracted plenty of backlash, but it also initiated a conversation many people were hesitant to have at the time. Matlovich's admission eventually led to his discharge from the Air Force, where he had continued to serve as a race relations counselor after returning to the States.

He died of complications from AIDS at age 44, and his gravestone in Washington D.C.'s Congressional Cemetery reads: "When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

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