90-year-old Lesbian given honourable discharge 62-years after she was expelled from US Air Force

Helen Grace James was kicked out after a crackdown in LGBTQ service members known as the 'Lavender Scare'

Saturday 20 January 2018 02:49
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Helen Grace James was targeted and investigated by Air Force officials for her sexuality
Helen Grace James was targeted and investigated by Air Force officials for her sexuality

A 90-year-old lesbian who was dishonourably discharged from the US Air Force in 1955 after a crackdown in LGBTQ service members, has finally had the situation rectified.

Helen Grace James was expelled from the service after a crackdown led by the The Office of Special Investigations known as the “Lavender Scare”.

But 62-years later, she has been awarded an honourable discharge from the US Air Force.

Ms James told the Pink News website that she was followed and arrested in a woodland area where she was eating with a friend.

As she was interrogated officers threatened to out her to her family if she did not sign a confession.

She was given no severance pay or benefits and moved away because she could not bring herself to be around family or friends.

Earlier this month Ms James, who now lives in California, decided to take legal action to have discharge status upgraded.

After waiting six decades, her request was successful and she is now waiting her official discharge paperwork.

“I’m still trying to process it,” she told NBC News. “It was both joy and shock. It was really true. It was really going to be an ‘honourable discharge.’”

“The Air Force recognises me as a full person in the military,” she said, having done “my job helping to take care of the country I love.”

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