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Synopsis: Available June 1st Only! Available in the state of Oregon Only.

Years before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Colonel Patsy Thompson was forced to expel Army hero Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer for being a lesbian. What no one knew was that Thompson was a lesbian, too. The way Thompson handles the military trial, however, leads to Cammermeyer’s reinstatement via federal court and eventual change in military policy. While Cammermeyer’s memoir was adapted as a 1995 television movie by Barbra Streisand, Thompson’s story remained a secret until now. In addition to revealing history, Surviving the Silence explores Thompson’s life with now-wife Barbara Brass. They candidly share how they wrestled with heart-wrenching choices in public and in private, hiding their relationship,and struggling to protect their love, while preserving Patsy’s career — and, how they emerged to become vibrant activists later in life.

Run Time

80 minutes


Col. Patsy Thompson
Barbara Brass
Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer
Eric Fanning
Mary Newcombe

Directed by

Cindy L. Abel

Produced by

Cindy L. Abel
Marc Smolowitz

Executive Producer

Janeen Irvin
Robin Cahall
Linda Dunikoski

Edited by

Michael Bruno


Michael Bruno
Jesse Freeman

Director's Statement

When Barbara Brass told me of her wife, Col. Patsy Thompson’s role in ousting Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, a personal hero, I almost choked. What? How could she possibly? Ultimately the journey I undertook illustrated how truth is always more complex than it appears. I made this film to reveal history, reflect centuries of LBGTQ people hiding to survive, and most of all, to celebrate a 35-year love that overcame impossible choices and now lives out loud. Every act of integrity and courage ripples out, impacting the world: I hope audiences are inspired to take their own step in that direction.

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