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Yank: “By the Men… For the Men in the Service”

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Yank!an amazing new musical portraying the lives of gays and lesbians in the armed forces during WWII, opens this week at the York Theatre. The production is incredibly well timed given the renewed debates taking place over the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The musical is even more notable for the in-depth research that the show’s composer and lyricist, brothers Joe and David Zellnik, undertook to support writing the piece. The show’s provocative title, Yank!, came from the army’s weekly newspaper during WWII (you can come and see original copies of Yank in the New York Public Library’s research collections).  They also made extensive use of Allan Berube’s Coming Out Under Fire, which tells the unforgettable stories of gays and lesbians that served in WWII. Berube’s work showed how central the experience of the World Wars was in the creation of modern gay and lesbian communities. Many gays and lesbians who served in the Wars, never returned to their small home towns after being exposed to the wider world and the single-gender environments of the military. After seeing Yank! and reading Berube, think about checking out the following recent books:  

Estes, Steve, 1972-  Ask & tell : gay and lesbian veterans speak out   Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press,2007 

Frank, Nathaniel.  Unfriendly fire : how the gay ban undermines the military and weakens America   1st ed. New York : Thomas Dunne Books,2009  

Gershick, Zsa Zsa.  Secret service : untold stories of lesbians in the military   Los Angeles, Calif. : Alyson Books,2005 

United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Military Personnel.  Don’t ask, don’t tell review [electronic resource] : hearing before the Military Personnel Subcommitt   Washington : U.S. G.P.O.,2009 

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