Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Smithsonian Shows Gay Sailor's Poem

Smithsonian Shows Gay Sailor's Poem
Associated Press, August 27, 2001
By Melissa B. Robinson
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Smithsonian Institution exhibit on submarines includes a poem by a sailor who was kicked out of the Navy for being gay.
"It's kind of like a validation of my service,'' said Tim Beauchamp, a native of Tulsa, Okla., who lives in Washington. "I was considering the Navy as a career.''
Beauchamp, a yeoman who served in the Navy for over four years, wrote "Sub Sailor's Views on 'Glasnost''' in December 1987 on board the USS Henry Clay, a nuclear submarine patrolling the North Atlantic.
The poem is part of the exhibit "Fast Attacks & Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War'' at the National Museum of American History. A copy of it is displayed on a sailor's bunk in a part of the exhibit dealing with daily life on a submarine.
Harkening back to the days of the Cold War, the poem includes lines like, "Reagan and Gorbachev back and forth volley while Nancy and Raisa put on their best. Capitalist/Communist -- Political folly! What does it matter? It's East against West.''
Eight months after writing the poem, Beauchamp, now 36, received an honorable discharge from the Navy after his superiors discovered he was gay.
"The fact that such a committed and rule-bound serviceman was kicked out of the Navy for no other reason than being gay illustrates the stupidity and wastefulness of our current policy toward gays in the military,'' said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress.
Before his discharge, Beauchamp had been awarded a Good Conduct Medal, a Sea Service Ribbon and a letter of commendation.
When Beauchamp was in the military, homosexuals were prohibited from serving. Under the current "don't ask, don't tell'' policy, homosexuals can serve so long as they do not engage in homosexual conduct or state their sexual preference.
Beauchamp, who has worked since his discharge as a computer systems analyst and a writer, said he'd forgotten about the poem until he came across it in an old notebook from his days as a submariner. It was included in the exhibit after Beauchamp's partner brought it to the attention of the curator.
. On the Net: "Fast Attacks & Boomers'': http://www.americanhistory.si.edu/subs/index.html

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