2 user 8 critic

Coming Out Under Fire (1994)

A historical account of military policy regarding homosexuals during World War II. The documentary includes interviews with several gay WWII veterans.



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9 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Phillis Abry ...
Herself - Radio Technician, Women's Army Corps
David Barrett ...
Himself - Storekeeper, U.S. Navy
Additional Voice (voice)
Pat Bond ...
Herself - Medical Technician, U.S. Women's Army Corps (scenes deleted)
Margarethe Cammermeyer ...
Herself - Former Colonel & Chief Nurse, Washington National Guard (archive footage)
Himself - President of the United States (archive footage) (as President Bill Clinton)
Daniel R. Coats ...
Himself - Indiana Senator (archive footage) (as Sen. Dan Coats)
Max Cole ...
Himself - Communications and Boat Officer in the Amphibious Force, U.S. Navy (scenes deleted) (as Ernest Max Cole)
Sarah Davis ...
Herself - Aviation Machinist Mate, WAVES
Elwood Burton Gerrits ...
Himself - Pharmacist Mate Third Class, U.S. Navy (scenes deleted)
Nicolai Gioscia ...
Himself - Psychiatrist, U.S. Army (scenes deleted)
Herbert Greenspan ...
Himself - Psychiatrist, U.S. Navy (as Dr. Herbert Greenspan)
Victoria Hochberg ...
Additional Voice (voice)
David E. Jeremiah ...
Himself - Vice Chairman of theU.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (archive footage)


A historical account of military policy regarding homosexuals during World War II. The documentary includes interviews with several gay WWII veterans. Written by Travis <mtharris@erols.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It is World War II and the U.S. military begins to persecute homosexual soldiers for being "sex perverts" and "mentally ill." See more »



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Release Date:

January 1994 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Interview subjects Phillis Abry and Pat Bond both died between their interview dates and the release/premiere of the film. See more »

Crazy Credits

Elwood Burton Gerrits Pharmacist Mate Third Class, U.S. Navy Interview date: June 17, 1993 In 1943, nineteen-year-old Burt Gerrits enlisted in the Navy at a Sioux Falls, South Dakota recruitment center. He was assigned as an aide in the psychiatric ward of the Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco. Gerrits is now retired from 35 years of public school teaching and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he settled after World War II. Duration: 7:50 See more »


Features Shades of Gray (1948) See more »


I Don't Care
Words by Jean Lenox
Music by Harry O. Sutton
See more »

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User Reviews

Made Me Angry
22 February 2014 | by See all my reviews

The way I came at this documentary is a bit different. I grew up in Canada thinking I was the only gay person in the country. In 1969 I discovered everything I had been told about gays was a lie. I then wrote a book, A Guide For The Naive Homosexual, came out publicly, and then chaired G*A*T*E a gay rights group. I spent endless hours trying to persuade gays not to be afraid and to fight for their rights. I faced 3,200 death threats and 38,000 abusive phone from Christians. Within a couple of years, we had the first gay rights legislation.

When I watched this movie I was furious. How dare the US government throw people in jail with hard labour for 5 years during WWII just for a thought crime -- being gay even without any actual sex. That has to be unconstitutional! How dare the government renege on its pension promise and label gay people as mentally ill so they could never get hired. That is a terrible way to treat young men who risked their lives for the USA, same as anyone else. How dare Eisenhower in 1953 order that all gay federal employees be fired. How dare Senator John Warner (aka Mr. Liz Taylor) ask gay American service people to lie and pretend to be straight, and be kicked out if every the camouflage failed. Would he demand that of any other group, e.g. Christians? I was also furious with the victims. They caved and gave names. They did not launch lawsuits once they were free to. They acted ashamed, and hid what happened to them. What snivelling worms! Anyone who was treated this way should be joining forces to sue and get the pension restored, and the discharge annulled. They bought in totally that they were worthless and ineffectual.

I feel sick to watch black people do a minstrel show, or a Stepin Fetchit routine. They are taking on the mantle of the anti-black stereotype. The gays in the movies did the same thing, calling each other "darling" and "girls", embracing the limp-wristed, empty-headed, female-wannabe stereotype. I found it revolting, though I suppose that is the way it was. Being gay has nothing to do with being a transvestite or a transsexual. That is a straight person's stereotype used to justify gay bashing. They all avoided the civil rights issue, filling their heads with trivial entertainments instead.

The movie is pretty good in that the interviewed people were honest about what they did. They did not pretend they were heroic.

The movie is all in black and white, which makes recent and old footage blend. I wish they had date subtitles to help keep track. The interviewees seem too young for WWII vets. Maybe the interviews were done long ago.

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