Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003, Stati Uniti
Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich (July 6, 1943 – June 22, 1988) was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Matlovich was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause célèbre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers and gay people generally. Matlovich was the first named openly gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. newsmagazine. According to author Randy Shilts, "It marked the first time the young gay movement had made the cover of a major newsweekly. To a movement still struggling for legitimacy, the event was a major turning point." In October 2006, Matlovich was honored by LGBT History Month as a leader in the history of the LGBT community.
On June 22, 1988, less than a month before his 45th birthday, Matlovich died in Los Angeles of complications from HIV/AIDS. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." Recognizing military officials would not then allow such a marker in Arlington Cemetery, Matlovich chose a gravesite in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Another reason was because the man many believe to have been the greatest love of poet Walt Whitman, Peter Doyle, is buried there. He chose the same row where the graves of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Hoover's longtime Assistant Director and heir Clyde Tolson are as a kind of "last laugh".
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