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The NYC Veterans Oral History Project: Denny Meyer, Veteran Interview, Part 1

January 14, 2013

Denny Meyer (Part 1 of 2):

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Brief Biography:

Denny Meyer recorded his oral history on January 14th 2013 at the Mid-Manhattan branch. Denny was a Sergeant First Class in the Army Reserve from 1968 to 1978. He served in the Navy on an aircraft carrier traveling through the Mediterranean, was a part of a helicopter squadron, worked at the NATO US headquarters, and was in the specialized Army Reserve units. Throughout his entire military career, Mr. Meyer had to keep his sexual orientation to himself. Now, he is speaking out, giving talks across the country, and proclaiming, "Gay Patriot, Proud to Have Served." In this interview, Meyer discusses his childhood, his enlistment and experiences, and his passion for being an activist.

Major points in interview Part I:
  • 1:24: Meyer introduces himself
  • 7:03: Describes community he grew up in and learning English
  • 11:46: Moving to Long Island and finishing his education there
  • 12:46: Returning to New York City to attend college
  • 14:58: Moving to Florida to be with his mother and attend University of Miami
  • 16:48: Moment that sparked Meyer to enlist and join the Navy
  • 18:52: Training camp
  • 24:40: USS Forrestal fire
  • 25:56: Assigned to USS Forrestal and becoming a yeoman
  • 30:44: Helicopter sqadron headquarters
  • 33:54: Meyer decides not to reenlist and finds a job with the Department of the Army Reserve
  • 36:06: "Relocation" defined
  • 40:34: Meyer decides to leave his job after 10 years
  • 41:48: Friendships in the military and "serving in silence"
Major points in interview Part II:
  • 00:01: Meyer continues story about flying to Brooklyn
  • 2:24: Staying in the closet during the 1960s and 1970s
  • 4:05: Receiving the nickname "Abe"
  • 5:55: Return to civilian life
  • 7:12: Becoming an activist
  • 11:46: Starting a gay veteran chapter in New York City
  • 14:20: The goals of the chapter and Meyer's leadership
  • 17:17: Recalls a few more childhood memories
  • 19:32: Meyer discusses "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and DOMA
  • 25:14: Family's reaction to Meyer's sexual orientation
  • 32:07: Family's reaction to Meyer's enlisting
  • 33:02: Going to Israel to visit Meyer's uncle
  • 36:42: Meyer's opinions on gays serving in the military, past and present
  • 43:50: Meyer's first civil rights march on Long Island
  • 47:00: Meyer's political position today
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