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Man in Trouble: Plum Island's Commander Becomes an Early Target of Homophobia

The 1914 court-martial of an Army commander on New York's Plum Island on charges of homo-erotic behavior was the product of conspiracy--a kind of mutiny by words--but but the accusers were slick. They managed to trigger one of the first high-profile instances of federal legal process against an alleged homosexual. Decades of false charges and false stereotypes would follow, ruining many lives. "Man In Trouble" reveals the plot against Major Benjamin M. Koehler and describes the masculinity crisis that made his persecution possible at a time when gender policing and discrimination against gays and lesbians were just getting going. A dominant view held by white men in power, equating manly strength with the strength of the United States, is still playing out today in the damaging stereotypes and misunderstandings that divide our country.

Former barracks of Fort Terry. The sound of waves crashing on the beach lulled hundreds of soldiers to sleep. Most of them respected the commander--but a small clique of men he differed with wanted him gone. Charges of gropings and lewd talk were their chosen way of trying to accomplish their goal.
One of Plum Island's many beaches. No wonder it's the largest seal haul-out spot in New York State