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Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars
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Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  22 reviews
-In 1943 the famous Battle of Britain pilot Flight Lieutenant Ian Gleed was shot down over Tunisia. He died a hero. Twice before he had bailed out of blazing Spitfires. Twice King George VI had congratulated him. What his family probably never knew was that Gleed was homosexual. It was not until the 1990s, when one of his lovers was interviewed for BBC television, that the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by I.B. Tauris (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  98 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Start your review of Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars
K.J. Charles
Nov 25, 2019 added it
Shelves: ww2, ww1, gay
A compendium of stories of gay and bi men who served in the wars, plus the gay experience on the home front. It's a series of accounts of experiences rather than a thesis, much of it oral history. Very interesting on the contrast between official bigotry and the amount of informal acceptance reported by many speakers. Some really moving stories of lifelong loves and powerful accounts of heroism, plus some extremely funny lines. (Wilfred Thesiger on his experience fighting the Battle of Ypres: "M ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer
All incredible stories, some familiar while some unknown to me. Essential reading for all gay men & whomever is interested in wartime heroes. This subsequently broke my heart and uplifted me.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nico Jones, with a full review on a non-fiction book?! Surely you can't be serious. [insert obvious and timeless Airplane! reference here] Quarantine is getting to me friends; I haven't been on a transit vehicle in month, hockey is nothing but historical highlights and I'm going insane, so I guess I have no choice but to actually review all my 'RTC' books on my shelves. See what you've brought me to world?! You've brought me to following through on promises made usually at midnight when I tell m ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, fun, and informative read about life about British gay men between the two world wars. I learned a great deal while reading this book. Fighting Proud is well researched and well written.
Rebecca Crunden
I am 1000% here for this.
Matthew Banks
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
A very readable book with some interesting points made, but over-reliant on other published works due to the inevitable paucity of primary sources. The author refers to Jivani’s ‘It’s Not Unusual’ so many times, the reader is left feeling that it would be easier to just obtain a copy of Jivani’s book! Worth reading, though, for those interested by the relationship between homosexuality and military service.
Infamous Sphere
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Damn this book was great. For those hesitating about reading it, it's a) on the whole very positive, and shares a lot of good experiences of guys who loved each other and got quite a lot of community and peer support (turns out the past isn't always as one dimensional homophobic as you might think) and b) unlike a lot of nonfiction books, it's an easy read that's easy to get into. Absolute recommend ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Examination of lesser-known British gay men who experienced the two World Wars - either in service or as civilians - shines a light on an intriguing topic, but does so in very perfunctory, often repetitive style. The reliance on others’ research doesn’t help, lending a third hand quality to the work. Still, sufficient if you’re looking for a quick read on the subject.
Tanwen Cooper
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-history
This is a wonderfully readable and thoroughly researched book revealing a side of the two world wars which tends to go unrecognised, if not explicitly removed from history.

Rather than be a detailed account of any one gay man's story, the book is more of a selection box, giving the Sparknotes version of each individual story with pointers of where Bourne got the information from for anyone wanting to take a deeper dive (this book has been somewhat hazardous to my TBR...). The style relies heavil
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a great, informative read. I hadn't really thought about this before, how difficult it was for gay men, who usually weren't accepted by society, to go to war with the very people who wanted them imprisoned, or dead.

I really enjoyed all the first person accounts, shocking I know. There was such a great variance in experiences, as was to be expected. Some men were totally "out", others felt like they had to hide who they were, literally for their lives. I was surprised by the number of s
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book but I felt like it was just a brief overview and never really got into any depth or dealt with the nitty gritty of the subject.

The section about the First World War ought to have been abandoned as it was just speculation and “well we don’t have any evidence to support this.” Also, if you’re going to discuss the plot of a (quite) famous play, at least revisit it so you get the character names right!

I also thought the erring away from “famous” stories was a bit mi
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very readable account of the lives of queer men during the two world wars, i found myself wishing that Bourne would expand upon his subjects and go into more detail. The book has an extensive bibliography and so is a great jumping off point for anyone interested in this period and topic, but unsure how to start.
I was frustrated that throughout the book either as gay or heterosexual, as if bisexuality was unheard of or unfathomable unless a person explicitly states they identify with it.
The pen
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-non-fiction
An important but fragmented work, which highlights some fascinating lives and stories from what was inevitably a limited range of sources. However it is written very much as a series of snapshots and I wished it did more to give an overall narrative of the impact of the wars on the lives of gay men (or LGBT people more generally) and/or their position within the armed forces - it touches on this here and there but usage of official sources etc is scant.
Michael Kerr
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay, history, non-fiction, war
It's obvious to anyone awake, that the history of gay life, of LGBTQ contributions, is generally overlooked. This book aims to be a corrective to this situation, and indeed there are a number of interesting vignettes illustrating the heroism and legacies of gay soldiers (mostly) who served in World War I or II. However, given the number of examples provided, there simply isn't time in a book of this length to cover the cases in much depth. ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-nonfiction
Quite a good book. Chock full of both anecdotes and deeper explorations of the systems in place. The book tries its best to reach as far as it can in the scope of its subject matter. There are times when bouncing between places or people can feel jarring but for the most part the threads are kept organized. For its length it is quite a comprehensive covering of subject matter. I could see this being taught in an "intro to queer history" class of some kind. ...more
Sophie Rees
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Lovely collection of stories of gay men from the World War One and Two. Very readable and enjoyable. However sometimes lacking further details, repetitive and lacked further analysis from the author.
I would definitely recommend it to read, but it could have been executed better by the author in my opinion.
Trevor Harvey
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
The major problem for the author of 'Fighting Proud' is, for obvious reasons, the lack of original source material.
Information is gleaned from a number of previously published sources to put together a slim book.
Not really worth bothering with.
Quinn da Matta
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
An important testament to the bravery of the gay men and women who risked it all to fight for our freedom... while being denied those same freedoms and decency. These incredible people are finally getting the recognition and respect they deserve, almost 100 years later.
Vince Robbins
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, world-war-1
A great read about Gay soldiers primarily in World War 1 and 2. An important yet under-explored piece of history.
Nicolas Chinardet
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Even though things are changing, LGBT history(/ies) are generally so well kept into the closet by mainstream society that picking up any history book on the experiences of LGBT people will present the reader with myriad new facts about our past.

This book is no exception. However, structurally, it is rather a mess.

There are many digressions (as intrinsically interesting as they might be) where Bourne strays from the topic at hand (perhaps in an attempt to bolster his wordcount in the face of an
Mark Dodyk
rated it really liked it
Jun 02, 2020
Colin Ellis
rated it liked it
Dec 22, 2018
Mills College Library
355.00866 B7756 2017
rated it did not like it
Jul 31, 2020
Ian Gee
rated it liked it
Jan 06, 2021
william shannon
rated it it was amazing
Mar 01, 2021
Hannah Bisley
rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2020
rated it really liked it
Apr 26, 2019
rated it really liked it
Mar 30, 2019
Michael Lawson
rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2021
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Stephen Bourne is a British writer, film and social historian specialising in black culture.

Librarian Note:
There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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