When Denny Meyer enlisted in the Navy in 1968, he had to hide the fact that he was gay.
At the time, homosexuality wasn’t tolerated in the Navy and anyone found to be gay would be discharged from service.
At StoryCorps, Meyer recalled what it was like to be gay and a sailor in those days.
Click here for the transcript.
When men are at sea they horse around. And so, they wrestle on the floor with thirty guys shouting. But, when anybody wanted to do that with me, I would grab their neck and bounce their head against the bulkheads "I don't go for that," you know. And so unintentionally, I got a reputation as the straightest guy around. [Laughs] You know, “Meyer won't do that even for a joke, you know. “
And there was a witch hunt for homosexuals which happened periodically, and the offices called me in. And they said, "Meyer, you're the only one we can be sure of." [Laughs] Will you help us find these people?” And I said, “I don’t know nothing about that.” So you lead a lonely life, you know? You're an island, all by your self.
Sometime later, I was at Fleet Headquarters and two men in suits called me in by surprise. And they said, "Meyer, we're doing a routine investigation for your clearance, and in the course of that investigation we found out that you are a…” And between that word and the next, I died. I went, now the hell begins. Then the guy finishes the sentence and said, "…are a user of marijuana." And I wanted to jump up and down and laugh. [Laughs] It was just so terrifying that forty years later I remember that moment like it was yesterday.