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August 08, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

HONOR BOUND: A Gay Naval Midshipman Fights to Serve His Country by Joseph Steffan (Avon: $10.; 254 pp., illustrated). Intelligent, religious, athletic and eager to serve his country, Joseph Steffan rose to the top of his class at Annapolis, demonstrating exceptional leadership skills. Shortly before graduation, he was abruptly discharged because he refused to lie about his homosexuality--one of more than 1,600 gay and lesbian soldiers discharged each year, at a cost of over $100 million to American tax payers. Refuting the notion of a "life-style choice," Steffan recounts the effort to reconcile his small-town, Midwestern values with his burgeoning sexuality (which was never directed at fellow midshipmen). Ironically, it was the emphasis on honesty and character at Annapolis that forced him to accept his true identity. Steffan's compelling account of his struggle puts a human face on the acrimonious debate over the role of gays in the military.

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