Sarah Edmonds, for example, left her home in maritime Canada and fled to the United States to avoid marriage—but took the ultimate protective step of dressing as a man and enlisting in the Union Army to avoid detection. Several lesbian and gay male members of the armed services came out publicly and vigorously challenged their discharges through the legal system. But even if all the men at fault are held accountable, the hypocrisy will continue. When I was finally ready to share my identity with parents, I was lucky to grow up in a very accepting family. Christian brotherhood or sexual perversion? The good soldier. Blacks and the military in American history.
A common reason was to escape pre-arranged marriages.
Historians also think he was homosexual—and served as an openly gay man in the military at a time when sex between men was punished as a crime.