On a Gay Soldier

Fred was openly gay. And, at a time when being openly gay wasn’t accepted by society, Fred was also in the US military. For most younger people in today’s world, it’s hard to imagine a time in American history when being yourself was not only frowned upon, but it was also illegal and could result in jail time, loss of the ability to make an income, or the right to own property or even vote. Yet, Fred made no bones about his sexual preferences.

He was an officer in the United States Army, and he simply went about his duties in an extraordinarily efficient manner. Fred had risen through the ranks through sheer will and great attention to military discipline. Born to a poor family, Fred had pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. In the military, he had earned a reputation for being tough but fair. However, he demanded the highest level of discipline from his subordinates, and he demanded the same of himself. That made the troops who served under him love and respect him.

When the army needed a particular unit to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up, they called on Fred to come into the situation, reestablish discipline, and rebuild the pride of the unit. And, time after time, Fred delivered. Fred wrote the book on military discipline for his time. Literally. He wrote a military training manual that was used by the United States Army for some time.

Perhaps it was this value Fred gave to the country and to the army that allowed his military superiors to look the other way when it came to Fred’s personal life—a personal life that, again, he took no pains to conceal. Even his commanding officer said about Fred that he was honored to be considered Fred‘s friend and comrade. This high praise from his commander was one of the greatest things of Fred‘s life. Fred, like most Americans, almost worshiped this man.

You know Fred’s commander: George Washington.

And now you know that Fred was Baron Friedrich von Steuben, the gay man who trained the Continental Army that defeated the British in the Revolutionary War.

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