August 7-16, 2020
Two women in love are surviving the demands of a closeted military career when one is forced to expel an Army hero for being a lesbian. The way she does it, however, leads to re-instatement and eventual change in military policy. SURVIVING THE SILENCE tells their story while revealing unknown history.
Years before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Col. Patsy Thompson presided over the board that dismissed Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer for being a lesbian, forcing her to confront her own secret and moral dilemma: she too was a lesbian. Cammermeyer revealed she was a lesbian during a security interview and was expelled. Her memoir was adapted as a 1995 television movie, executive-produced by Barbra Streisand, but Thompson’s story remained hidden…until now.
Thompson and her wife Barbara Brass also candidly share how they wrestled with heart-wrenching choices in public and private, hiding their relationship, speaking in code on the phone and struggling to protect their love while preserving Thompson’s career. Eric Fanning, the first openly gay Secretary of the US Army, offers a unique perspective of the role they played, having worked in the Defense Department as a closeted then openly gay man, including working to allow open transgender military service when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense.