Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

“Full Military Honors”: The Irony of A Nation’s Thanks for a Murdered Gay Sailor

SeamanProvostPicInUniform.JPGHouston, TX – The dignified notice of services attending the interment of Seaman August Provost appeared in the Houston Chronicle on July 9th:  “SEAMAN AUGUST “B.J.” PROVOST III 29 A courageous soldier, passed away (Thurs) 06-30-09 while serving in the U.S. Navy @ Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Ca.  Visitation (Fri) 07-10-09 from 10am-11am @ Wright Grove Missionary Baptist Church; 9702 Willow Street.  Funeral services will begin at 11am.  Interment: full military honors will be given in his honor at Houston National Cemetery – (Gate-time 2:30pm).  Boyd Funeral Home.”  As a gay sailor who had not yet been outed and discharged under the provisions of the 1993 DADT law, August Provost was eligible for “Full Military Honors.”  The Military Funeral Honors web site details what by law they must be for August Provost: “Military Funeral Honors have always been provided whenever possible. However, the law now mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family. As provided by law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps. Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording. Today, there are so few buglers available that the Military Services often cannot provide one.” Of course, Seaman Provost is due all honor by a grateful nation for his service in the Navy.  Every fallen LGBT servicemember is due the full honors of the United States of America whose flag they served.  But the irony fairly crackles around this funeral notice.  Seaman Provost was brutally murdered, shot multiple times as if by execution.  His body was found partially burned in a guard shack, probably the work of a killer intent on covering up his gruesome handiwork.  Seaman Provost had confided in his family and to his same-sex lover that he had been harassed for being gay for the better part of a year by someone on base.  But he would not report any of this to a superior, lest in the name of the same body of law that now covers him with honor, he be investigated and summarily drummed out of the military for being a homosexual.  So, someone finally worked his evil, and Seaman Provost died, vulnerable and unprotected, a gay man like so many tens of thousands of others who vow to protect and defend the very nation that will not do the same for them.  May the family, and Seaman Provost’s bereaved lover, to whom the honors of the nation refuse to extend in President Obama’s America, find comfort for their loss.  May Seaman Provost rest in peace in Houston National Cemetery, covered with honor as he should be.  But the rest of us should be put on notice that DADT must not stand one day longer, else this brave gay man will have died in some sense bitterly.  As for us at the Unfinished Lives Project, we cannot help being Red, White, and terribly Sad.

Military funeral

July 11, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, Condolences, gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crimes, immolation, military, Remembrances, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. […] Barry Winchell was murdered with a baseball bat in the Army barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Seaman August Provost was shot to death on base in San Diego, and then his body was set afire in a guard shack in the […]

    Pingback by Repeal and Remembrance: Gay Military Martyrs and the End of DADT « Unfinished Lives | December 19, 2010

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