The Road Through "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a documentary series that includes photography and recorded interviews that offers insight into the lives of LGBTQIA+ service members that served before and during the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The goal for this project is twofold. One, to have a gallery exhibition that tells our stories, this can be powerful in putting faces with these stories and experiences. Two, To start the first LGBTQIA+ Veterans History Project Archive held at UNCG. With both of these there can be a number of ways to participate.
How to participate
One can be where I come to you, record your interview and we do a short photoshoot. That material for both the exhibition and archive, there is no anonymity here. If you are not comfortable with being part of the exhibition we can simply record your interview for the archive this can be in person or virtually and can be done anonymously. Any option you choose you have final say over what is put out into the world. Once the interview is recorded I will start to transcribe it. Once that is complete both the edited audio file and transcript gets sent to you for your approval. Once that is sent to you you will have 30 days to request any changes before it gets uploaded into the UNCG archive.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Statistics
It is estimated that 114,000 service members have been discharged for homosexual conduct or sexual orientation between 1940 and 2011. This number is not inclusive as there is no data for service members discharged before this period which fell under the previous regulations that began in 1916 when sodomy became a punishable offense in the military. It is estimated that more than 14,000 service members were under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Government Accountability Office found that the cost of discharging and replacing service members because of their sexual orientation totaled almost $200 million during the policy's first ten years. Another study showed that the previous accounts were inaccurate due to the lack of accounting for the experience of the personnel that had been discharged; this raised the cost to $364 million. Again, this was the first ten years in total, with it costing around $40,000 per discharge, which comes to $574 million. These numbers do not include what it is now costing to upgrade discharges under these policies. Many service members who had their contracts terminated for their sexual orientation received less than honorable discharges. This has led to service members being denied benefits. It is time to tell our stories to let others know of the sacrifices and struggles we endured and still endure.