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Interview with Allan Charles Fiscus [1/11/2005]

Steve Estes:

Okay. My name is Steve Estes. And today is January the 11th, 2005. And I'm in San Francisco, California.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Alan Fiscus; and it's January 11th, 2005, and I'm in Lansing, Michigan.

Steve Estes:

All right, great. Alan, when and where were you born?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Lansing, Michigan, July 10th, 1957.

Steve Estes:

And what did your parents do?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

At that time, my father worked for General Motors, and my mother was a homemaker.

Steve Estes:

What did you dad do for General Motors?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I think at that time I was one, he was working in the Oldsmobile plant, and I think he was a test driver. He was test-driving the vehicles.

Steve Estes:

Okay. Have you seen "Roger and Me," the Michael Moore documentary?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I have not.

Steve Estes:

Oh. It's set in Flint. But --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right.

Steve Estes:

It's about GM and Flint, obviously. You might want to check it out. Let's see. This might be skipping ahead, but, well, I guess I'll just say, what was it like growing up in Lansing -- was, the '60s?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I lived in Lansing for five years. And then we moved to another GM town called Milford, Michigan.

Steve Estes:

Okay.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Actually that's probably where my gay life started. When I was 8 years old, I remember having a major crush on Tim, who was the next-door neighbor. And he and I loved spending time together, and he always loved having his shirt off. And I always loved touching his bare chest. So for me, that probably was the beginning of my experience. As far as living there, I hated it because I always felt like an outsider.

Steve Estes:

Was this just because you were gay or were coming to understand you were gay or were there other reasons?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, I never fit into any of the sports issues at all or had any interest in that. And the whole neighborhood was involved in the baseball, football -- that just wasn't my thing. So I never felt like I belonged in any of that.

Steve Estes:

And yet you did that, you got involved in the Navy before you left high school. What was your thinking there?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, interesting. I never, in my life, thought I would have anything to do with the military until one of the military recruiters came up and started talking to me. I wasn't the greatest brain in high school. And some of the things he talked about sounded interesting as far as furthering education. They didn't have any military medical program, which was something I was interested in. I had already been involved in some medical training in high school and in a co-op program. And I was also going into emergency medical training while I was in high school, working on my EMT license. And so I kind of started thinking -- started my thought process of looking at some alternative educational possibilities. Military or Marines didn't have any guaranteed medical programs like most of the Navy; they did. I went and tested; qualified. November of 1975, I enlisted, shocked everyone in the world (laughs), and found there was a Call-to-Delay enlistment, or CASH program. And once I graduated high school, I had, like, thirty days to report, [indiscernible], active duty.

Steve Estes:

Did you have to get your parents' signature because you signed up earlier or were you already 18?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Actually I was 18. But yes, parents were still involved in [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

So you said you shocked everyone. How did your parents feel about you joining the Navy?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

My parents were okay with it. It was all my peers in high school, which I had -- you know, friends in high school. I didn't have any peers. Everyone was totally blown away by me in my senior year because I had a full-time job, still going to high school, and had joined the Navy and because I was always called "queer."

Steve Estes:

In high school?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

In high-school time, even though I did not [indiscernible] in high school, I was the queer. Even though there were guys playing around with each other in the gym class or in the bathrooms during break, or whatever, I was the queer. It was really a very difficult time because I knew, in my mind, that I was gay. But what everyone was doing, what not, what my thoughts of being gay were about. Very confusing for me at that time. Probably my first real exposure to a gay community while I was in high school was reading the book, "The Front Runner," by Patricia Neil Warren. And all the time I realized there was actually a world out there, and so I didn't feel quite so alone in high school. I was bashed while I was in high school. I ended up in the hospital a couple of times for being beaten up. So I couldn't wait to get out of that town.

Steve Estes:

I bet.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

So when I actually went in active duty, I had my first proposition on my first day in boot camp.

Steve Estes:

Oh, my God. Before you get to that, can I ask you another background question?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Sure, go for it.

Steve Estes:

Had anybody in your family served in the military before?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

My father was in the Air Force; my uncle was in the Navy; my stepfather was in the Navy.

Steve Estes:

Do think that they -- you said they were okay with you joining the military. Do you think that they knew you were gay at the time?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Probably there was, maybe, some suspicion on my mother's part but nothing that was ever discussed until actually I had been in the Navy a couple of years.

Steve Estes:

Okay. All right. Well, I was actually going to ask you about boot camp, so --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Okay.

Steve Estes:

Go crazy.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Like what?

Steve Estes:

Well, I guess, let's start with that first thing. You got propositions on the very first day of boot camp, I think --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah, I did.

Steve Estes:

-- most people think of boot camp as that first day of screaming and push-ups and --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, it's -- okay, let's put it this way, just for your own mind of travel: I was always an overweight kid, very very poor self-esteem most of my life. And so I worked real hard several months before going to get the weight down, which I think is pretty good. We were marched to the chow hall. And where we had to stand in line, there was not enough room to get everyone in line without people being in the street, unless you were, what they called, a "nut butt [?]." And so you're crammed up against each other. And while we were standing there in line, the guy that was behind me, who happened to be a very cordial, handsome man, whispered in my ear, "I'm going to fuck you." And he's rubbing his crotch into my ass. I started to lose it. I mean, I'm so terrified about being found out about being, much less being propositioned my very first day in boot camp. So here he is, rubbing his crotch against my ass, you know, and saying, "I'm going to fuck you."

Steve Estes:

Do think that, maybe, he was messing with you, or do you think he was gay?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

No, I probably think he was one of those people that -- and as we talked later on, after we had gotten out of boot camp, he kind of asked me, "What did you think about the first time I talked to you?" And I said, "I don't know. I guess I was more terrified because -- would you really have done it?" He says -- his response was, "I would fuck anything with a hole in it." And that led me to believe he was bi. Okay? But I ran into that a lot --

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

-- in the military, so ...

Steve Estes:

Well, you had the signs -- this is '75, so you had the signs, I mean, that said, "I am not gay"; right?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right.

Steve Estes:

So you signed it. But you said that the military found out you were gay. Was this later on, or --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

This was, actually, being in Okinawa a couple of years.

Steve Estes:

Okay. Well, let's not jump too far ahead. Let's get back to boot camp. Now how did you do in boot camp, I mean, how did --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I surprised myself. I did very well in boot camp. I ended up being one of the recruit petty officers [indiscernible]. I pressed myself in areas I never thought I would accomplish, which was probably the best thing I've ever done in by life, and joining the Navy was perhaps the [indiscernible] as early as I can recall anywhere. I met two or three different people that were gay, a couple of them very flamboyantly gay. I walked in on gay activities while I was training in boot camp where one recruit was screwing one of the commanding officers.

Steve Estes:

Wow!

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Later on that evening, the commanding officer asked me if I was okay [about this (?)]. "I have no problem with what you do in your personal life," you know, mainly because I'm just trying to keep myself [buried (?)] At that point. I mean -- and, you know, he was just, you know, sitting there, playing with himself [indiscernible]. And he says, "Is there anything that you wanted to do to me?" And I said, "No, thank you." And I did, I wanted to so badly; this guy was gorgeous. Really, I would have done anything, but I was just too terrified.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

So I just was not that secure in what was going on in the [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

How typical do you think this is of boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Station?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I don't know how typical it is. I just know that I was surprised to find the number of gay-potential men. I met two or three other officers, and I'm also -- how I knew them before college, came to know them --

Steve Estes:

That's fine.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

-- through other officers that were gay. And they would talk to me about leaving the boot-camp fold and what [indiscernible] I'd have.

Steve Estes:

While -- right around the same, time and maybe right after this, Leonard Matlovich comes out and challenges the Air Force. Did you know about that at the time, or was --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yes.

Steve Estes:

-- or were you too young?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I remember trying to find out as much as I could about Matlovich. Yeah. But there again, that's long past. I don't really remember how it all came.

Steve Estes:

Right; so it wasn't a topic of conversation.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Only with people that -- I can't remember what year that was, so -- I know they were talking about it at different points during my Navy time. But I don't even know if that [indiscernible] for me.

Steve Estes:

Okay. So you went into Hospital Corp School, also at Great Lakes Naval Station; right?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right.

Steve Estes:

And what was that like?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Challenging. As far as meeting all the requirements, getting all the work [indiscernible - done?]. In some ways I had already been in the hospital field. Some of it was just further learning, which is what I wanted. And that was okay. I had no real contact during that time frame for several months with anyone that I knew that was gay at that point. I knew that there were some people that I could be had. But it was not like there were gay; it was just, like, they would do anything [Indiscernible]. But there again, I was just not in that frame of mind to do things.

Steve Estes:

Right. So you graduated from there, and your next station, your next assignment, was Camp Pendleton?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Correct.

Steve Estes:

And --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I went there for field medical service training.

Steve Estes:

Okay.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Once you get ready to be a corpsman with the Marines out in the field, the battle field -- and that was quite an experience because, there again, pushed me to physical limits I didn't know that I had.

Steve Estes:

Can you talk briefly about that, how it pushed you?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, I had never been a physical person, never a gym person. That had us running a three-mile timed stress test. It was, like, foreign to me, and though yet I did it: Playing the war games, you know, being G. I. Joe, falling underneath wires and through mud fields, you know, playing the war games, you know, stuff like that. It was different because, you know, using a gun is tough; that I had grown up with. My family had all been taught rifle safety, gun safety, by my grandfather. And so shooting back for me was nothing. Actually it was something I was very comfortable with. So that was just, you know, learning to do the long hike and with backpacks and tents and everything that you might need in a war situation. That's different, but yet I got through it. And I kept surprising myself: "I can do this; I can do this." And so it was good for me.

Steve Estes:

Now this is, I mean, you got in right after Vietnam fell?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right, after the Vietnam era.

Steve Estes:

Yes, so can you talk to me about that? Like, is there any legacy of that era that you saw?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, my uncle served in Vietnam. And my uncle -- he's a very very close friend; well, a family member. I remember us being afraid all the time during the times he was in Vietnam. Always every time the phone rang, it was just going to be a bad phone call. And, you know, those types of things. He does not talk about it. 'Til this day, he won't talk about it or the experience. He acknowledges that he served his time. He has a lot of anger in how he was treated for being in the military during that time, as far as how Americans treated him when he came home. So those things are what I remember from him. My father and I did not talk a lot about his military experience. At that point, my father -- my parents had divorced, and so my father and I were not close during that time frame.

Steve Estes:

Okay.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

My father was an alcoholic, and we had very minimal contact with him, especially during my latter high school years and while I was in the military.

Steve Estes:

So is your uncle your mom's brother?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yes.

Steve Estes:

Okay. Let's see. After you finished at Camp Pendleton -- well, is there anything else you want to talk about, in terms of Camp Pendleton?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I met a few other gay people. I never told anyone I was gay at that point.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

But, you know, there were people that -- it was like the gay [indiscernible], you know the type?

Steve Estes:

Sure.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Had propositions, but there again, was just too afraid to act on them.

Steve Estes:

So let's get you to Okinawa. Was that your next stop?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Went to Okinawa, the third medical -- or the third Marine division working at the medics [indiscernible]. Oh, let's see. I met Rob -- to say his first name -- who, after a few weeks of knowing him, he came up to me. And I started asking questions about being gay. In fact, he had more experience in the world than I had as far as the world in the gay community. And it was several months before I decided to tell him that I was gay. And when I finally did, he wouldn't talk to me for weeks.

Steve Estes:

Wow! Why do you think?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Because I didn't tell him right away. And it was actually kind of funny because the chief of your company, after quite -- pulled both of us into the office and said, "Rob, what's your problem with Alan?" And Rob says, "I can't trust him." And he said, "Why, because he finally told you the truth?" Which totally blew me out of the water. And here's Rob and I, just kind of, like, our mouths are hanging wide open, and the chief's saying, "It's okay; I know a lot of guys that finally tell you the truth and then you back away," you know. "Get your act together and be friends." And Rob says, "How do you know?" And he says, "Hey, I've been in the Navy long enough to know what goes on in the world," you know? And he says, "Just be there for each other, and that's all that matters."

Steve Estes:

Wow, that's incredibly tolerant, compassionate.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah, and Rob says, "I don't believe you're telling us this." And I'm just sitting there in total shock and scared out of my paints because here's a guy that can get us kicked out.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And the chief just said, "You know, you've guys got to know everything is possible in the Navy." And he says, "If I'm horny enough and it's got a hole, I'll fuck it," which seemed to be a real popular idea, that if people were horny enough, they'd use anybody. And then in a few months later, he said, "Here, when we get into Singapore, you need to go here, here, and here to have fun that you guys will enjoy." And he sent us to where there were titty bars and stuff like that.

Steve Estes:

Wow!

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah.

Steve Estes:

So you --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

So it's -- I really started to figure out what the gay world was possible -- you know, what was possible [indiscernible] in the Navy. I remember -- and when we were at the Philippines, at one of the military theaters, the movie, "Norman, is that you?" And that blew me away because I didn't know anything about being so flamboyant and who his character was. You know, so it's just -- I kept learning and learning more and more as things go on. Well, [indiscernible -- "While fish with the Marines"?] There were two marines that were sleeping together in the barracks. Everyone knew it. Nobody said anything. On one of the mountain trips that we did -- and it was during December; it was very very cold -- one of the guys said, "Well, let's just, you know, put our sleeping bags together," because we just could not get warm, and we ended up sleeping in the same sleeping bag. And when I woke up at one point, I was experiencing some very nice pleasures. And you know, it was just amazing. And it's the encounters that occurred, probably, you know, through the military times. I had very very good reviews when I left the Marines at [Indiscernible] two weeks, the highest reviews that probably I ever had. And I also walked away because I did everything that every Marine ever did out there in the field and I was always the last one to stop [indiscernible] to get up and go again because no Marine was going to out do me [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Was that because you were in the Navy and you felt like you had to compensate for not being a jarhead, or whatever?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, there was always that competition. And there again, we were told, you know, that people that oversee -- that oversaw the corpsman, you know. You make your own level of respect with these guys. You put up with their crap, you know. They're just going to keep piling it on, if you stand up to them and work with them and outdo them, you're going to have friends for life. And I do still have contacts from my Navy time with the Marines. And I had never regretted my time with the Marines at all. I [indiscernible] on myself and [indiscernible] good friends, you know. So it was good.

Steve Estes:

So you remained friends with Rob for a time?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

A couple more years, and we lost contact. And I haven't been able to find him since. There is one friend of mine that [indiscernible] when I got to the Navy Hospital, [indiscernible] and we've known each other now for 23 years. And we're still friends. We still do these things occasionally. In fact next week, we're going to the beach [indiscernible] auto show.

Steve Estes:

Cool. So you didn't, obviously -- well, maybe you did, and we haven't talked about it. Yet, though, it sounds like -- did you experience discrimination because you were gay while you were in the military?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I never experienced discrimination based on my job performance, okay, which was always number one. At that point during our time in the Navy hospital in Okinawa, we actually had a major gay -- kind of -- straight uprising, a battle going on between the [Indiscernible]. And initially there were a lot of negative feelings going on between those that we knew were straight and those that we knew were gay. I guess I really cannot say I ever felt discriminated against because number one, I always did me job, I did it well. There was never any doubt about my ability to work. Okay?

Steve Estes:

Okay.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

There were people that knew -- there in the hospital that were straight -- that I was gay; that I was in a relationship by that point. And then there wasn't an issue. In fact, this one nurse that I worked with who was [indiscernible] active duty in the military. We were talking about her questions, totally out of the blue, one night. "How do you do it?" And I kind of -- I was in the middle of reading a book, so I was kind of blown away at the time. And I kind of -- "Do what? I'm reading. I'm going," Line to line to each page," you know. "No, no, no, no. How do you guys do it?" And I'm, like, "Oh," you know. So it was kind of comical and just totally out of the blue. I never expected it. And we talked for a little bit and then, "You don't get -- "and then [indiscernible] you know, kind of lost in my book, and then she says, "But doesn't it hurt?" And I'm going, "What are you talking about now?" You know and then "click," you know, and then I'm going: "Well, you know, you know, it's just -- if you're careful, things are okay." She says, "Oh, okay. Hey, Alan, it hurts!" And I look at her like "What?" You know. Now I'm not thinking the same line as she is.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And she says, "Yeah, you know, when, you know, my husband touches me, it hurts." And I'm going, "Okay, you're doomed for it," you know, and then, "click." But then I had to go and do a double click because I actually served a few months with her husband and had seen him in the shower situation, going, "No wonder!" And she say, "What?" And then I got really embarrassed because Jane didn't realize that her husband and I served in the same outfit for a while.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And that got to be a really big joke. And we're all -- in mentioning that, a few days before hand. In the mail, I had received the book, "The Joy of Gay Sex," and had read it, and it was in my briefcase. And I simply said, "Here, open it up, turn to page, "First time," and I said, "Here, read this and go from there." And so she took my book home. A few days later, see and her husband come in. She goes, "Where were you working?" And her husband hands me a paper bag, pats me on the back, and he says, "Thanks a lot, I really enjoyed this." And I looked at him; he just smiles and walks away. And I looked at Jane, and she's absolutely, totally, beet red. And I open it up and here's the book. And I realized what had happened. So you know, some of these silly stupid things went on.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And at one point because of everything that was going on, a few of us actually sat down and tried to figure out how many people we knew that were gay or lesbian [indiscernible]. And we were figuring almost at least 50 percent [indiscernible] at all levels.

Steve Estes:

Wow.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

[Indiscernible] military structure.

Steve Estes:

Now I want to play devil's advocate with you for a second.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Go for it.

Steve Estes:

Because I know how -- I have interviewed two -- at least two, maybe three, folks who worked in the Hospital Corp. And they say, "Oh, you know, Hospital Corp is notorious being okay of having gay, you know, [indiscernible], whichever. And what would you say to someone who said, "Well, that's just the Hospital Corp. That's not the entire military," or "That's not even the whole Navy," or what have you?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, okay. Most public service-type jobs, like, hospitals, social work, [indiscernible] and those other fields tend to have the larger predominantly gay people, period.

Steve Estes:

Yeah.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Now I won't say that's a large predominance in the Hospital Corp. But having been assigned temporarily onto ship, on three different ships, and with the Marines, I found just as much activity on the ship with non-hospital people as I did within the Hospital Corp. I can quite honestly tell you any Marine that I showed interest in never told me no, ever.

Steve Estes:

Okay. Let me ask you another question, and that is to go back to -- you said there was tensions {sic} between the gays and straights for a while. Can you talk a little bit more about that, what happened, you know?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, we had a couple of guys on the command that were nelly, a little flamboyant. One person was very reserved, very shy, but very effeminate. He was someone you could always trust being a friend, doing his work, doing it well. Then you have someone else who was blatantly effeminate and a screamer. He would walk into the cafeteria going, "Girlfriend!" And, of course, everyone wants to duck and hide. Well, unfortunately, the flamer made an approach to one of the uber ultrastraight in one of the group showers -- it was the barracks -- and got appropriately beaten up for his stupidity. Well, later on in the evening, I guess, because they felt they got away with one, "Let's do it to the other." And so they beat up the other person, ended up in intensive care. And when the word got around what had happened -- okay, [indiscernible], the other person didn't. Okay? The gay people just went angry because nobody had done anything to the guys that were bragging that they had done it. And so it got to be a very very tense situation for a couple of days, and finally the gay community just walked out of the job and demanded action or they won't go back to work. And [indiscernible] problem because the commanding officer wasn't out for [indiscernible] what's going on, you know. So [indiscernible] ended up losing [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Oh, wow!

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And so it was -- it was really rough. And it was more -- you had the people that were in the middle of the road that were difficult to deal with, but then it was the ultraconservative people that really threw their noses in the air and created problems. And, of course, the people were really angry at what had happened. But that's pretty bad, actually. I was living off base at that time. And my memoirs [?] Were Japanese; came up to my house and said, "You be safe, you be safe." "I'm okay." And he said, "Problem on base ; you good home without you, good home without you," you know, "good gay guy." He says, "You be safe here," and he pointed me and showed me that there were people watching my car because there had been some other problems with people being beaten up off base.

Steve Estes:

So it was known within the community, that, I mean --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Oh, yeah, yeah, there was a huge gay community off base.

Steve Estes:

Right.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

And there were the gay bars that we would go to. And there were other bars that when the gay bars closed, that we could go to that; we just kind of just took over. And we just cutting a hole of certain nights of the week at a certain time. We take over, and people -- other people leave because they don't like it.

Steve Estes:

What year was this, the whole, like, the big fight, I guess.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Woo, boy, we are going back to [indiscernible], I would roughly have to say, maybe [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Okay.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Probably I would think [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Did you know anyone who got kicked out because they were gay, while you were in Okinawa or while you were in the Navy?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah. Actually, I was a part of that.

Steve Estes:

Okay, talk about it.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, supposedly after all this happened, the new commanding officer came on. Whether -- I have no idea if this has ever been officially dealt with. But we had -- we brought three gay people and three straight people together to sit down and talk about what was going on [indiscernible]. And we talked about people who were -- we had a stack of files to discuss about whether people were just being used out of anger or do these people really need to be released from service. And so we were part of making the decision. We ended up throwing some people because of their poor job performance and their poor attitude [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Wow.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

[Indiscernible] so it kind of [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

So were you one of the six people who was {sic} called?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yes. And, you know, we were told this is not anything that's officially. No one would ever know officially what [indiscernible]. But it was interesting because we would sit down and talk openly about [discernible] performance; who made this -- who made that accusation [indiscernible]. I had a nickname for a while, [indiscernible], because part of my duties were check in all the new people. And I had never been wrong. My guise -- my gaydar was very in tune (laughs). And so I usually -- I was usually able to understand what was going on [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Gotcha.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I was also very active in my church over there. And I was doing [indiscernible]. And it was -- people knew that I had a strong faith [indiscernible] with people.

Steve Estes:

You were kind of a "den mother."

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah. And I was called "Mom" a lot. And that -- depending on someone who would be punished. "Yeah, don't do that!" "Mom, [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Let me see; let me look at my questions.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

[Indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

No, no. I don't mean to get you off track. I just want to make sure I get to everything. Let's see. So I guess -- I mean, the official policy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when you were in, the idea, I would say, complete then, but you're saying --

Allan Charles Fiscus:

If they find out, you were kicked out.

Steve Estes:

Right, right. And not even an honorable discharge; this is before the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" compromise; right?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right.

Steve Estes:

So -- but you're saying it was much more flexible?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I think it had to deal with how you worked in your settings, who you were working with, whether people would tolerate you. [Indiscernible] the one person [indiscernible] when his name came up, every one of us would immediately say, "Get rid of him. Get out; we don't want him. He's an embarrassment to the community. He's an embarrassment to the gay community", [indiscernible], you know, the whole thing. "Get him out of here; [indiscernible] he's just not worth having." The other person, great job, you know, he's not an embarrassment, especially [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Well, you can understand why.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah, yeah. And so we went through all these files it was only, like, three or four of them that we actually discharged. And, you know, it was because people were and having huge life issues to deal with.

Steve Estes:

Now were any of the straight soldiers disciplined after that committee?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Actually one was if he was ready to leave the military. He was given a gateway out. The other one did not want to leave. He actually was -- lost rank, and he lost wages, [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

So why did you leave the Navy?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I decided I wanted to go after my relationship [indiscernible]. I actually did try to stay in. I was asked if I wanted to stay in. I said, "Yes, I would if I could stay in now," because I'd been there, by that time, for [indiscernible] years. I had a house; I had a car; I had a whole life there. They would not allow me to leave there [indiscernible] not any longer than I should have been. They wouldn't give me one of the other choices [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Okay. But you stayed in the reserves for a year.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Right. That was my original military contract. I was never active [indiscernible]. They did call me a couple of times [indiscernible] if they had a crisis [indiscernible] report, ready to go [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Where were your crises; do you remember?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Turan, in the early '80s. We never actually went anywhere [indiscernible] ready to tackle [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Did you get your nurse's license?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I did, not right away. I had a very hard transition back to civilian life, very majorly shocked on gay people treating each other. In the military, you're very very protective of each other. You watched out for each other. You didn't do flamboyant -- but it was kind of, say, aviated at, even at the gay bars. If somebody walked into the gay bar, you didn't know a little life was [indiscernible] in kind of upward [indiscernible]. But it was cold conduct in the gay community [indiscernible]. You never know. Part of the gay community [indiscernible] even the ones who are [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Right. Well, I think, maybe I shouldn't do it as a statement but do it as a question. Do you think that that was basically self-preservation or community preservation?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Community and self-preservation.

Steve Estes:

Okay. But in the quote, unquote, "real world" or outside world, you found that it wasn't like that?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, for me, initially, it was very very difficult because when I first walked with friends into the gay bar, I was made to feel like I was [indiscernible]. When I now walk into a gay bar, they don't talk to me; they don't even approach me. Very very difficult, very different, very lonely [indiscernible]. Then I went into the schools [indiscernible], and here I am. I had already lived a life [indiscernible] high school kids. Couldn't deal very well with that. I also had to work full time, transitioning full time. It didn't work out well. I went to school for a couple of years; didn't finish, dropped out for a while [indiscernible]; eventually did go back [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Congratulations. Can you talk a little bit about what you think of Don't Ask Don't Tell?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I think it's the biggest joke in the world. But I think if the military leadership wasn't ever honest with the United States public, if they threw out every ban, I think that military [indiscernible] you'd just have no one.

Steve Estes:

(Laughs)

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I'm serious; you would not have a military. There are so many people so well closeted. But you'll [indiscernible] in the military, they can be in a comfortable setting, and I can relate, being in an all-male environment. [Indiscernible] sexuality and all. It's just comfortable, very assured. You can hide in the [indiscernible] because everyone [indiscernible]. Some of the biggest marines that I thought were the biggest jocks, they didn't know what I -- [indiscernible] I found [indiscernible] never I thought for a man. This just totally blew me away. It blew away all the stereotypes [indiscernible] and be your friend the next day, and no one would ever know what had happened because everything [indiscernible]. But in the hospital, even though I could go up to [indiscernible], any Marine I ever showed interest in was [indiscernible]. This was their life. They also had been engrained, and they had the right to be. [End of Side A - 1:05:30] [Start of Side B].

Steve Estes:

Okay. Let's see. If you had to look back at your time in the military, how would you say it affected your life?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I guess it showed me that I had more potential than I thought I did. I'm now, in a lot of ways, [indiscernible] retiring from it because I enjoyed. I enjoyed the travel. I actually know people who are actually cultured. But when I also look back, I realize I'm probably getting more and more comfortable with myself in being an individual. That would have been more and more difficult these days, probably, especially when they had me go to new command shift. You figure yourself in the process, you figure out where you are and [indiscernible]. And I don't know if I could have kept doing that [indiscernible]. So I have no regrets because [indiscernible], but being able to be in the military [indiscernible] that I did not [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

What do you do today, Alan, for [Overling]?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

I'm the nurse. I work -- actually, I have two jobs that I work. One is in trauma. I work the American Red Cross.

Steve Estes:

Okay. And this is the last question, actually. It's: Is there anything that I didn't ask you about that you think is important, in terms of your service? And it doesn't necessarily have to relate to sexuality, actually, but anything that you think, you know, is missing, basically, from the story you told about your time in the Navy?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, I was out already in the Navy. I actually came out while I was [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

Can you talk about that a little bit?

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Well, I mentioned before [indiscernible]. It was on a mountain top in Korea, November of 1977, a very cold, snowy morning. But [indiscernible]. I learned a lot about interaction with people [indiscernible]. I guess that my biggest shock was probably remembering I served [indiscernible] in Okinawa . [Indiscernible] and I dated for years, and I often dated [indiscernible].

Steve Estes:

That's kind of beautiful, in a way.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

Yeah. Give something that I think is the biggest warmest memory I've ever had.

Steve Estes:

Well, maybe we should leave it at that, actually, Let me say, formally, thank you for doing an interview.

Allan Charles Fiscus:

You're welcome. [End of Tape]

 
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