Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military

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Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf War
Conduct Unbecoming (book).JPG
Author Randy Shilts
Country United States
Language English
Subject Sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States military
Published 1993
Pages 832
ISBN 978-0449909171

Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf War is a 1993 book by American journalist Randy Shilts, in which he traces the participation of gay and lesbian personnel from the Revolutionary War to the late 20th century.

In 1994, Clinton Fein's ApolloMedia, with the blessing of Shilts, purchased the electronic rights from St. Martin's Press, and in January 1995 released Conduct Unbecoming, the first ever CD-ROM to tackle social issues by providing technological tools. Conduct Unbecoming pioneered digital activism through its 'e-post' feature - the first ever technology allowing the user to communicate with their elected representatives electronically.

The controversial subject matter dealing with gays in the United States military provoked the United States Navy to threaten a First Amendment lawsuit—the first time a court would be required to determine whether First Amendment protections afforded to traditional media applied to electronic publishing as well.

Days before the release of Conduct Unbecoming, the Navy attempted to bar the use of a 1972 recruiting poster featuring the first African American used in a Navy recruiting campaign. Servicemember Boyd Ed Graves had been honorably discharged from the Navy in 1977 after allegations of fraternization disclosed he was gay.[1] ApolloMedia refused to pull the image.

Following high profile press attention ApolloMedia announced its intent to defy, the Navy obliged and withdrew their initial threats.

ApolloMedia, represented by Michael Traynor at Cooley Godward, effectively established the de facto acknowledgement that First Amendment protections must be extended to CD-ROM publishers.[citation needed]

The book was well received in a review in the Los Angeles Times which described it as "gripping reading" and "an irrefutable indictment of unconscionable government behavior in a cause that the military seems still unable to explain".[2] The CD-ROM version did not get such positive coverage, with The Advocate saying that "this well-intentioned multimedia rendition of an important book just doesn't pass muster".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Boyd Ed Graves: Portrait of An American Hero". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ Dawidoff, Robert (2 May 1993). "An American Inquisition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Wickre, Karen (11 July 1995). "Cashiered". The Advocate. pp. 64–65. ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved 2 January 2013.