In 1898, on a sweltering summer day in mid August, Army Pvt. James Neely of the all-black 25th Infantry Regiment was on leave in the small town of Hampton, Georgia, on a day pass from his post at Fort Hobson.
The Supreme Court ruling on the rights of same-sex couples to marry has strengthened the rights of gay service members to openly own their stories. During this era of sweeping social change for the military — which is also expanding women’s roles in combat arms professions — storytelling programs connect Americans with service members whose lives have rarely been explored. StoryCorps, a nonprofit, has since 2003 recorded, preserved, and shared more than 2,500 oral histories in its Military Voices Initiative, including those of gays and dual-military couples.