Our Time: Breaking the Silence of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – the book

| September 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

The publication of OUR TIME: BREAKING THE SILENCE OF “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” (The Penguin Press / $24.95 hardcover), edited by Josh Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe, coincides with the repeal of DADT and marks the end of more than a decade of silence, giving voice to the LGBT men and women who served under its policy. The book is a compilation of short first-person essays, written primarily by active duty service members, by those discharged under the policy and by their supporters. It details the hardships faced by soldiers, families and partners, the pain of the choice between military and self, and exemplifies humanity at its very best — leaders who support their comrades, friendships forged and minds opened. Throughout, we are reminded of the bravery and selflessness of the men and women who choose to serve our country and defend our liberties while their own freedom is withheld.
A short excerpt from the book’s introduction follows:

“President Barack Obama signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Act bill into law on December 22, 2010. Though official repeal then remained on the horizon, that day marked the beginning of a new era for the American military. I sat in the audience that day as a representative of OutServe and as an active duty gay Air Force officer directly affected by the policy. It was thrilling to celebrate this hard victory alongside other advocates, but I also knew that despite the leap forward there remained a tremendous amount of work to be done. For eighteen years, the policy had effectually silenced an entire military population. The ways in which ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ had poisoned military culture remained untold.

Our Time is our story of our military experience under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The individuals you will meet in these pages served in silence. They were required to withhold an integral part of themselves from their colleagues. They could not freely share their love for their families, or their dreams for the future. They had no protection when individuals used the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy to blackmail and harass. Though as active duty service members themselves know, the silence of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was already beginning to break. The stories here are testament to the remarkable friendships that form between Soldiers, relationships of respect and affection that transcend prejudice and prove just how very outdated and bankrupt the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was.

Throughout Our Time, you will note time and time again one word: integrity. This concept is a cornerstone of military education and tradition, it is a value we are taught to aspire to and to uphold. And yet, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ denied integrity to each and every LGBT service member. Every day these individuals were faced with the deep, wounding conflict: to be true to themselves, or true their country. The pain of that choice is felt in almost every story included here.

When service members sent me their stories, they would often thank me for the opportunity to contribute. They told me that there was a certain vindication in writing their story on paper and knowing it was going to be read. The human narrative is a powerful tool. It was the courage of previous gay service members stories that motivated the nation to change this policy and it’s these stories that will help the pain of the last few decades of discrimination heal.”

– an excerpt from the introduction to OUR TIME: BREAKING THE SILENCE OF “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” edited by Josh Seefried; to be published by The Penguin Press in October 2011. To pre-order the book, visit http://outserve.org/ourtime/

Category: Book Reviews

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