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Fighting with Pride (Hardback)

LGBTQ in the Armed Forces


In the press!

Soldier magazine's 'pick of the month ' (January 2020). 

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To mark the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the British Armed Forces ‘gay ban’ on 12 January 2020, this book brings together a selection of LGBTQ servicemen and women who have served in the Armed Forces since the Second World War. Their stories are profoundly moving testaments to their loyalty, their courage on the battlefield, and their unswerving sense of right and wrong.

Included are ten accounts of members of our Armed Forces who have lived remarkable lives. In some cases they were dismissed in disgrace or forced to resign when asked questions about their private lives. Their stories are those of remarkable sacrifice and courage in their units (and in battle), but who were forced to live in secret before their services were removed at the stroke of a pen after being declared 'no longer required’ or ‘dismissed in disgrace’.

These are the stories of the David and Goliath battle for equality, through every court in the UK and Europe. For others their story is one of remarkable careers at the front line of operations worldwide, with accounts of service in the Second World War, the Falklands War, the Gulf Wars and the war in Afghanistan.

This book celebrates the lives of servicemen and women who have stood tall and taken their place with pride and dignity in the fighting units of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force and the British Army. These are the inspiring stories of people who have created amazing careers and sought and found a welcome denied to so many.

I was drawn to this book because, aside from it being #Pride month, I was interested to learn how the conflict between the British Armed Forces and the Pride community was resolved. After all, why is someone's sexual orientation the business of others?
With a Foreword by Admiral Lord West and an introduction by
Lieutenant Commander Craig Jones, it's clear this book has been on the desks of a lot of high ranking officers - perhaps to show the reader that acceptance has come from the top?
After reading the accounts of service men and women who have been honest and frank about their experiences, I felt anger and frustration reading of the intrusion from the media into people's private lives.
This book opened my eyes to how the media and the military were so unaccepting of gay and lesbian staff and in my tiny corner of the world I respect them all for having to deal with such harsh treatment.
An educational read - well worth a look.

For the Love of Books

This book makes for uncomfortable reading – which is also its appeal, as it brings home just how unpleasant it is to be on the receiving end of discrimination.

Pennant (Forces Pension Society), May 2020

What is evident is in reality a blinding glimpse of the obvious; the Navy, and the other two services demeaned and threw away perfectly good people because of a flawed belief with no foundation in anything other than misconceived prejudice. The book is worth perusing; hopefully soon it will only be of historical interest.

The Naval Review– reviewed by Robert Muddysley

Pick of the month

Soldier magazine, January 2020

Click here to listen to Craig Jones interview with presenter Danny Pike

NOTE: set cursor to 1:09:51

BBC Southern Counties, 14th January 2020

Exclusive preview on the Pen and Sword Blog

Pen and Sword Blog

'The Armed Forces’ LGBT+ journey is remarkable by any analysis, but it is a great testament to the courage and strength of character of some who have shifted the ground upon which one of our nation’s most conservative organisations have stood. Through their perseverance, they have collectively realised a thoroughly normal goal – that each member of the Services should be respected and valued for who they are. Their individual stories are profoundly touching, some of which are captured within this important book, and if they say nothing else to the reader it is that huge mountains can be scaled if you focus on the goal, ground ahead and are unshaken by the scale of the challenge.

Air Marshal Andrew Turner CB CBE MA MSC BA FRAES CCMI Royal Air Force.

I and many around me took it for granted that we could serve our country. This collection of stories is a humbling reminder of those pioneering people from the LGBT+ communities who had to fight for that very privilege. The inspiring and poignant tales remind us of the highs and lows of serving as an LGBT+ person before the ban was lifted and celebrates the truly inclusive opportunities offered by the Armed Forces today. It has been a remarkable journey and this book is fitting tribute to how far we have come and to all those who made it happen.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Air Force

An overdue account of the righting of an historic wrong; of indomitable spirit; and strength of character. I feel fortunate to have served alongside such courageous individuals in the front line of Britain's Armed Forces; and to have been one of those who had long argued for equity and justice.

Rear Admiral Roy Clare CBE DL (Commanding Officer, HMS Invincible 1996-7)

These are inspiring personal stories of how LGBT+ service personnel challenged and overturned exclusion and discrimination in the military. They remind us that LGBTs in the Armed Forces were once tasked with defending freedoms that they were themselves denied. But thanks to their resilience, they are at last free and equal. Bravo!

Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

This important book records a turning point in LGBT+ equality in the UK and the beginning and end of a remarkable journey for our Armed Forces. Resolute and determined, these are the stories of those whose journeys epitomise what was lost by excluding and what we have gained in equality.

Baroness Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, 2014–2019

Fighting with Pride is a captivating book chronicling an incredible period of positive change in the social history of the Armed Forces, told by the women and men whose courage on the battlefield was matched by their courage of conviction. These veterans of WW2, the Falklands Campaign, the Gulf Wars, Northern Ireland, the Cold War, Iraq and Afghanistan met every operational challenge demanded of them, yet many suffered the indignity of an imposed disgrace that led to dismissal. You will be moved by their unstinting loyalty to their Service and Country, with recollections that will make you laugh and shake your head in dismay and disbelief.

It now seems incredible that some of our dearest and best were compelled to live complex lives in the shadows for fear of arrest, detention and dismissal. The accounts of this wholly depressing experience, as told by Patrick Lyster-Todd and Elaine Chambers, remain worthy of somber reflection today. In stark contrast, Mike Brigham and Roly Woods’ contemporary accounts of the Armed Forces today reminds us (with some relief) how far we have come. Today we are proud to be all of one company, where equality truly means equality for all. But we would not be where we are without the protagonists for change you find in this uplifting book. Craig Jones deserves our thanks for skilfully bringing the stories of these women and men together. He is dismissive of his own naval career, but he fought a good fight to the betterment of the Armed Forces, and we are honoured to call him a brother in arms who believes in the power of fundamental good, the worth of responsibility and strength of example.

General Sir James Everard KCB CBE, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Marking the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on gay servicemen and women in the Armed Forces, this collection of the stories of 10 LGBT+ personnel from the Second World War to present day forms a moving testament to their courage on, and off the battlefield.

Bookseller Buyers Guide

About Maj Michael Brigham

Major Michael Brigham MBE is a serving infantry officer in the Mercian Regiment of the British Army.  Out, proud and serving at the front line of operations he has completed a number of combat tours in Afghanistan and received a Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in 2010.  

About Lt Elaine Chambers

Lt Elaine Chambers, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, was a nursing officer in Cold War Germany but she was dismissed after being ‘found out’.

About Sgt Darren Ford

Sgt Darren Ford, Royal Military Police served with the Royal Military Police in the 1980s and 1990s. He was outed by a boyfriend and dismissed, after an investigation by his own unit.

About SLt Edmund Hall

SLt Edmund ‘Ed’ Hall RN was a University Cadet Officer who ‘came out’ to colleagues in 1988 and was dismissed because of his 'intended lifestyle’, events which led him to become a campaigner for change in the law.

About Sir Michael Howard

Captain Professor Sir Michael Howard CBE CH OM MC Sir Michael Howard is one of a dwindling number of our Second World War veterans.

About Lt Cdr Patrick Lyster-Todd

Lt Cdr Patrick Lyster-Todd RN joined the Royal Navy in 1972 and in a busy operational career he served in Northern Ireland, as the Navigating Officer of the last Chatham-based frigate and he was the Duty Staff Operations Officer in Faslane in the tragic hours following the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.  

About Lt Cdr Mandy McBain

Lt Cdr Mandy McBain RN joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service in 1986. During her 25 year career she went from hiding her sexuality to representing the military at a NATO LGBT Conference in The Hague.

About Flt Lt Caroline Paige

FLt Lt Caroline Paige RAF, is an inspirational woman and the first transgender officer to serve openly in the UK Armed Forces. 

About Cdr Roly Woods

Cdr Roly Woods RN is currently serving in the headquarters of current Navy Operations, on the staff of the Royal Navy’s  Fleet Commander. He joined the Royal Navy in 1978 and served in the Falklands War and the Persian Gulf as well as a Defence Attaché and liaison officer in Washington DC.

About Lt Cdr Craig Jones

Lt Cdr Craig Jones MBE RN joined the Royal Navy in 1989, later to become the first ‘out’ LGBTQ person the Armed Forces, leading that community through a bewildering period of change.

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