On a late or early evening/morning in mid July of 2000, I awoke for no particular reason and turned on the TV. It's just one of those things I do when I can't sleep. Flipping past poorly-recorded religious programming, and episodes of this thing called W.O.W, I stopped for some reason on a public TV station, either NJN or PBS. Some footage of an old man. As I was watching and drifting off to sleep, it became apparent that this person was talking about serving in the Second World War, the great war, the war, WWII and he was also talking about being gay. The program that I saw that night totally blew my mind (wide open).
It was essentially a documentary about gays and lesbians in service in america's forces during WWI and WWII, which appeared to have been filmed sometime during the late 60s. It gave a really interesting perspective of gay and lesbian culture during these very chaotic periods of history. There were a great deal of interviews of men and women and what they endured, also lots of clips of old 40s and 20s music with blatantly Sapphic and homosexual overtones and primitive gay porn.
The most interesting tidbit was the short segment on a wave of lesbianism that, according to the interviewees, swept the nation, which at the time had a deficit of strapping young bucks and most women were helping the war effort by building weapons and vehicles. A toothless old black woman who was living in a homeless shelter at the time of the production, sternly noted "Every one was doin' it and everybody knew about it. We'd have these dances and all the girls would get together, and we'd kiss and dance real close." Interesting indeed.
Conversely, most of the normally and flamboyantly-dressed (one guy looked like a fat Bela Lugosi as Dracula) old men interviewed discussed the overwhelming suppression of gay activity. Don't ask don't tell was apparently some rule of thumb for a while, but in a different form back then.
Overall a truly enriching film, offering a window into America's Gay History. It's a shame I caught it in the middle. I only wish I could place a name on this particular film. /me is asking for assistance in this matter
10/14/03 - The film is titled "Coming Out Under Fire" and was released in 1994. Thanks to kidcharlemange for identifying this film.