Chicago in Cook County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Sgt. Leonard Matlovich
The Legacy Walk
(Gay U.S. Military Pioneer)
(1943 - 1988)
Leonard Matlovich followed in his father's footsteps and volunteered for service in the Air Force. He served three tours of duty in Vietnam where he received a Bronze Star for heroism under fire, and a Purple Heart for being seriously wounded in a land mine explosion. While teaching Air Force race relations courses, Matlovich came to realize that prejudice and discrimination against gays was similar to that against African-Americans, and that he could not abide having to teach about equal opportunity when it did not apply to people like him. This revelation prompted him to reach out to gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who had been looking for a test case against the military’s ban on homosexuals serving openly. With Kameny’s support, Matlovich revealed his homosexuality in a carefully worded letter to his commanding officer on March 6, 1975. Despite his exemplary military record, a three-member military panel ruled Matlovich unfit for service, and discharged him in October 1975. After a five-year legal battle, a U.S. District
Erected by The Legacy Project.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil Rights • Military. In addition, it is included in the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the The Legacy Walk 🏳️🌈 series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is March 6, 1975.
Location. 41° Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3441 North Halsted Street, Chicago IL 60657, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Barbara Jordan (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dr. Tom Waddell (about 300 feet away); Ruth Ellis (about 600 feet away); Alvin Ailey (about 600 feet away); Frida Kahlo (about 600 feet away); Fr. Mychal Judge (about 600 feet away); Keith Haring (about 700 feet away); American Veterans for Equal Rights Military Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chicago.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Leonard Matlovich (Wikipedia).
"Technical Sergeant Leonard Phillip Matlovich (July 6, 1943 – June 22, 1988) was an American Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He was the first gay service member to purposely out himself to the military to fight their ban on gays, and perhaps the best-known openly gay man in the United States of 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...."(Submitted on October 13, 2021.)
2. TSgt. Leonard Matlovich, USAF (LeonardMatlovich.com).
"Maybe not in my lifetime, but we are going to win in the end."(Submitted on October 13, 2021.)
- TSgt. Leonard Matlovich, September 19th, 1975
3. In Memoriam: Leonard Matlovich (YouTube, 18 min.). A memorial video put together by Matlovich's foundation, providing a biography and setting Matlovich's actions within a larger historical context. (Submitted on October 13, 2021.)
Additional keywords. lgbt lgbtq
Credits. This page was last revised on October 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 12, 2021, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 12, 2021, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. 3. submitted on October 13, 2021, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.