Homosexuality and military service have always made strange bedfellows. Military leaders, generally traditionalists, have typically seen homosexuals as unmanly, immoral, and a threat to cohesion. While the U.S. military has garnered international headlines as a result of its exclusionary policies, the issue is far from new and struggles with it have not been limited to the United States. The Canadian military was acutely concerned with homosexuality during the Second World War. At the outset of the war the mammoth task of mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops overshadowed concerns about their sexual behaviour or orientation. As the war progressed, however, senior military brass became increasingly determined to rid the services of those engaged in "disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind." Using an wide array of sources - including long-closed court martial records, psychiatric and personnel files, unit war diaries, films, and oral histories - Paul Jackson relates the struggle of queer servicemen of all ranks and branches of the Canadian military to fit in and avoid losing their careers and reputations.
He argues that homosexual men were often accepted and popular within their units. Nonetheless, if accused of homosexual behaviour, they were subjected to psychiatric assessments, courts-martial proceedings, prison terms, and dishonourable discharges. "Open Secrets," a National Film Board of Canada documentary, was based on this book.