Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Africana Studies

First Advisor

Barbara D. Savage


This dissertation is a study of the relationships between race, gender, and U.S. military policy regarding sexually transmitted diseases and homosexuality between 1941 and 1993. It traces the idea of homosexuality in the military as something that many Americans and military officials viewed as potentially contaminating. In addition to connecting the history of sexuality and African American military history, the dissertation also incorporates the history of public health to provide an analysis that makes race, gender, and sexual orientation central in the intersections of military justice and military health care. The research draws on a wide range of sources, including criminal investigation reports, public health records, court transcripts and opinions, military correspondence, medical journals, the papers of civil rights organizations, and military and civilian newspapers. The dissertation argues that the military treated homosexuality as a contagion and policed it using methods and rhetoric similar to those it employed for venereal disease control, a notoriously racialized field of public health.


Available to all on Wednesday, September 11, 2024