A former lance corporal of the Women’s Royal Army Corps, Jean Macdonald was dismissed from the Armed Forces in 1981 for being a lesbian. During a time of “witch hunts” to eradicate anyone who was gay, the 66-year-old veteran from Shropshire was interrogated and felt like she had “lesbian written on her forehead.” Despite everything looking up in her military career and being due for a promotion, she was called up by members of the Specialist Intelligence Branch and was subjected to an intrusive search of her room.
After 40 years of struggling with mental health difficulties and the traumatic episode, Macdonald found solace in connecting with other LGBT veterans through the charities Fighting with Pride and Salute Her in the past 18 months. The help and interaction has given her confidence and hope for the future and she now proudly “reclaims her veteran status.”
Macdonald attended services at the Cenotaph in 2021 and 2022 with charity Fighting with Pride, the first time LGBTQ veterans were allowed, and was chosen to have her wildlife photographs featured in the 2023 Help for Heroes calendar. The MoD has expressed regret for the injustice suffered by LGBT+ members serving in defense and is committed to understanding the full impact of the historic ban and finding ways to address the wrongs of the past.