From Publishers Weekly
A Desert Storm veteran looks back on the years he sacrificed his identity to his career. Growing up in Queens, McGowan always wanted to be a soldier, but he "couldn't be gay because soldiers aren't gay." That rationale tortured him as he enrolled in Fordham University's ROTC program and felt agonizing longing for Greg, a co-worker at a bookstore. When McGowan joined the army in the late 1980s, "the military was like a college football player, pumped up and ripped on steroids, " and he had "somehow managed to stuff the genie that Greg had nearly succeeded in freeing forcefully back into the proverbial bottle of my own denial." (This genie should get overtime for all its play in this memoir.) McGowan served first in Germany; during Desert Storm, he tried to sublimate his crush on a gorgeous fellow officer. But the "don't ask don't tell" policy created an inadvertent pogrom, he says, as sexual conservatives in the service played dirty to smoke out the hidden "perverts." Though McGowan was not implicated, the double-dealing and cowardice of others sickened him, and he retired in 1998. McGowan is not always a graceful writer ("the only anecdote [sic]," he tells us, "for this strain of senseless tragedy that so often infects the world, is love, family"), but his style is familiar and easy, as if he's confiding his experiences to a trusted friend.
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Advance Praise for MAJOR CONFLICT:
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“Jeffrey McGowan is a decorated Army officer, a valued leader of men in combat. For those in our society who see gay men only through the eyes of media stereotypes, McGowan’s successful military career may well be a revelation. But the power of this book lies not in the politics of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell, but rather in the poignant recognition of McGowan’s humanity.”
— Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, MD, USPHS (USCG) (Ret.)
“This is essential reading for anyone interested in promoting full access to American society for its gay, lesbian, and bisexual citizens. It is also an absorbing personal account of the life of a gay soldier. All Americans lose when good and talented people like Jeffrey McGowan leave the service they love.”
—Keith H. Kerr, Brigadier General, CSMR (Ret.)
“Jeff McGowan’s story is one we all need to read, and more stories like his are desperately needed. I hope his book is found by gay and lesbian youth feeling isolated and alone so that they know there are other people who’ve gone through what they’re feeling. I hope his book is read by straight America, so that we can better understand what it means for people to have to choose between how they were born and how they want to live, knowing that both are part of who they are.”
—Jason West, mayor, New Paltz, New York
Jeffrey McGowan's courageous personal account of his experience as a gay man serving in the U.S. Army connects two important issues that are front and center in the minds of many Americans. With the political landscape in our country dominated by such issues as war and gay rights, Major Conflict clearly and cogently examines the impact that the confluence of these issues has on an individual's psyche and sense of self. This story of personal conflict, service, and patriotism will help to enlighten the American public and its policy makers.
—U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)