“Surviving the Silence” Love, Duty, and Hiding in Plain Sight


Colonel Pat Thompson and her wife Barbara Brass are the subjects of an upcoming documentary “Surviving the Silence” and will be the featured speakers at the May meeting of PFLAG Tulare & Kings Counties. Their relationship began before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and was complicated by Col. Pat’s military duties.

In the summer of 1992, Colonel Pat Thompson was a decorated military nurse, only two years away from retirement.
Then came her toughest assignment: presiding over the dismissal hearing of Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer. 

The hearing was held before DADT came into effect in 1994, when it was military regulation that homosexuality was reason for dismissal from the Armed Forces.

“Pat faced an impossible choice,” said Colonel Cammermeyer. “She could have come out and then there would have been two of us dismissed without recourse, or, she could fulfill her duty in a way that allowed me the best possible defense. By presiding over the board, Pat had a profound impact on my ability to get into Federal Court and make my reinstatement possible. And in doing so, she played an important role in enabling us to move forward to finally get the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Stepping out of the shadows, for the first time on film, Colonel Pat Thompson and Barb Brass share how they survived the silence and lengthy separations.

And,  Colonel Cammermeyer reveals why she considers Pat a hero. – website for “Surviving the Silence” movie.

Pat and Barbara will be the guest speakers, recounting the story of their partnership, marriage, military service, and being the subjects of the upcoming movie.

The May meeting for PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties is Sunday the 21st, 3-5 pm, at Congregation B’nai David, 1039 S. Chinowth, Visalia. Held in the Educational and Cultural Center, refreshments will be served.

PFLAG provides a safe and confidential space place to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity, and works to build a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

There is no cost to attend, and membership is optional.

PFLAG Tulare and Kings Counties is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

Image: (l-r) Colonel Pat Thompson (retired), Cindy L. Abel – director/producer, Barbara Brass

I am a member of the Board of Directors, PFLAG Tulare and Kings Counties. – Jim Reeves

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