Expelled Officer Hails Clinton

Lesbian Alum Felt 'Numb' When Commissioned in Navy

Predicting a "watershed event" for the gay and lesbian community, activist Karen B. Stupsky '88 discussed the future of homosexuals in the military last night.

Stupsky, who works for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, told an audience of about 20 at Fmerson Hall that she was "very pleased to speak" just after the presidential election. President-elect Bill Clinton has promised to issue an executive order repealing the ban on gays and lesbians in the armed services.

Stupsky spoke at length of her own experiences as an ROTC member and navy officer. Upon enrolling at Harvard in 1984, Stupsky received a four-year ROTC scholarship.

She said she did not know she was a lesbian when she joined ROTC, but during her time at Harvard began to question her own sexuality.

Stupsky said the tried to deny her homosexuality because of her fear that coming out would end her military career.


"Most young officers are filled with pride when they're commissioned, but I just felt numb," she said.

Stupsky spent several years as a Navy officer.She was greatly disturbed by the repression of hersexuality and ultimately told the military thatshe was lesbian. "[My commanding officer] saidthat I was sick and that they could help me withmy problem."

When she refused, Stupsky said, she received anhonorable discharge.

Stupsky said she believes Harvard has done"pretty much all it can" to support gay andlesbian students, and welcomes the University'sstance condemning anti-gay ROTC policies.

The fund is a member of the Gay and LesbianMilitary Freedom Project, a coalition oforganizations--including the American CivilLiberties Union and the National Organization forWomen--that works to end the military's ban ongays and lesbians.

Stupsky spoke about the Project's recentefforts to bring legislation repealing the banbefore Congress. In May, Representative PatriciaSchroeder (D-Colo.) introduced the MilitaryFreedom Act, a bill forbidding discrimination inthe military based on sexual orientation. Sen.Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) introduced a similarbill in the Senate in July.

The bill has so far received 90 cosponsors inthe House and nine in the Senate.

The project has also made progress in gettingthe Armed Services Committees of Congress to holdhearings on homosexuals in the military. Sen. SamNunn (D-Ga.) said hearings will take place nextsession.

This year, the Project organized several eventsat which members of the military "came out" ontelevision programs such as "Nightline," "ABCWorld News Tonight" and "Good Morning America."

The lecture was the second annual Alice BeltonEvent, named for a 1969 Harvard graduate who wasdischarged from the military due to her sexualorientation and later committed suicide.

Barbara R. Hoffman '57, representing the OpenGate Foundation, which funded the event,introduced Stupsky by saying, "I hope that nextyear's Alice Belton event will be the one thatcelebrates the end of that damned policy.