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Gay Pioneer Leonard Matlovich First TV Interview - May 26, 1975

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Uploaded on Jul 17, 2009

The fight for gay equality in the military is first brought into American living rooms by "CBS Evening News" legend Walter Cronkite introducing an interview with the first servicemember to challenge the ban, Leonard Matlovich.

Though Leonard was an experienced public speaker, he seems shy and uncertain in the brief interview because it was both his first appearance on national television and because he had such short notice that the interview was going to happen. After the story of his unprecedented test case broke that morning on the front page of the "New York Times," he got a call that CBS had chartered a plane to fly to Hampton, Virginia, where he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base, to interview him.

And, also because of what was happening behind the scenes that CBS, and the world at that time, didn't know. He had immediately called his mother in Florida to tell her that they finally had to tell his conservative Air Force vet father the two things he hadn't yet been told: that his only son, winner of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, was gay AND threatening to sue his beloved Air Force.

He was shocked when his mother told him that it was too late. A syndicated version of the NYT's story had appeared in their local morning paper. His father read it, locked himself in his bedroom in which he cried for two hours, and, after exiting, never wavered in his support for Leonard. When next they met, he hugged his son for the first time since Leoanard had been a child.

For more information: www.leonardmatlovich.com

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