Decades before openly gay Americans were legally allowed to serve in the military, Joseph Patton, a gay man, served in silence.
Patton, who died earlier this year at 83 years old, sat down for a StoryCorps interview in 2019 to talk about a time in his life that brought him both pride and pain.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1955 at age 17, keeping his sexuality a secret for the entirety of his service.
"My dad told me going in the service would help me be a man," Patton said.
But his reasons for joining the Navy were a bit more lighthearted than that.