SURVIVING THE SILENCE
Director: Cindy L. Abel
79 min / 2019 / USA / English / Documentary Feature / In Competition
In 1992, Colonel Pat Thompson was a decorated army nurse, only two years away from retirement. She was asked to preside over the military review board that eventually dismissed Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer for admitting she was a lesbian. Although Thompson had been in tough spots over the course of her 28-year service, this was the toughest. In that moment, she had to protect her own life secret: that she too was a lesbian and living privately with her life partner Barbara Brass for many years.
The story of Cammermeyer made national headlines, fueled in part by President Clinton’s push to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. In 1995, Margarethe’s memoir was adapted as a TV movie, executive-produced by Barbra Streisand and starring Glenn Close. Yet Thompson’s story has remained a secret…until 2013 when she and Barbara, now married, decided to go public and speak for the very first time.
Surviving the Silence is a coming out story like no other, deeply moving, troubling, revealing of unknown, policy-changing history - and powerfully inspirational.