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Raised in New Jersey and Massachusetts in a working-class Catholic family, Berube received a scholarship to the University of Chicago. There he encountered the vibrant protest movements for racial justice and against the Vietnam War. Dropping out of college, Berube became a conscientious objector and worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Boston before moving to San Francisco in the early 1970s. Amid this newly visible and politically active gay community, Berube began researching San Francisco’s LGBT history on his own and, with a few others, founded the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project. Finding a hidden cache of letters written by some gay GIs during World War II, he shifted his focus and, in 1990, published Coming Out Under Fire: A History of Gay Men and Women during World War II. The award-winning book was widely cited in the “gays-in-the-military” debate of 1993. Berube later moved on to a project about the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union, a left-wing, multi-racial, and queer-friendly labor union in the 1930s and 1940s. The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 1996, Berube died unexpectedly of ruptured stomach ulcers in December 2007. A collection of his essays, My Desire for History, was published posthumously in 2011.