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The Catch-22 of Don’t Ask

February 17, 2010

Here is the catch-22 of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

In order to show the impact of the policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell we must see the impact of the policy on gay men and women in the military. Much of the opposition of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell comes from the stereotype that to be openly gay means one is going to flaunt it. Essentially, the logic goes that by not allowing a gay person to serve openly avoids the conflict of “in-your-face” sexuality. However, in order to show the policy’s impact, gay soldiers must stand up and make their sexuality the issue that defines them. Instead of being Dan Choi the Lieutenant, he is Dan Choi, the gay advocate. Standing up to try to repeal this policy unfortunately requires soldiers to define themselves by their sexuality so other will ultimately not need to.

While these are among the most important spokespeople to have (showing the victims of this policy), it also inevitably supports the misconception that once soldiers are allowed to serve openly they will all make being gay their defining characteristic to the detriment of being a good soldier and team player. This is exactly why it is key that gay soldiers who are advocates express that they’d much rather be on the battlefield than on TV (as they undoubtedly would). Equally as important is the visibility of supportive straight soldiers and leadership–like Admiral Mullen.

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