(Photo: AP Images / Alex Brandon)
The historic repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) officially takes effect on Sept. 20. It is no coincidence that on the same day, a publication titled OutServe Magazine will look to make history as the first openly gay-themed magazine for military personnel by making its debut on military posts.
The magazine will be available at select military exchange stores on Army and Air Force bases for free.
“One of the reasons getting this magazine onto military installations is so important, is that, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) service members often feel like there is nobody else like them at their duty stations,” said an editor of OutSource, a LGBT magazine, who requested to remain anonymous. “They face unique challenges within their command, such as being ostracized from their peers or not being able to talk about their own personal relationships like everyone else can.”
“These are things that can make someone feel very alone. OutServe Magazine is a tool that we are using to reach out and let these members know that they are not alone, that we have a huge support group for them.”
OutServe has regional chapters covering every U.S. military installation across the world in order to better connect LGBT individuals with resources. The magazine is meant to highlight the contributions LGBT service personnel are making within the ranks and discusses issues and provides answers to many topics LGBT individuals deal with.
However, OutServe is aware that not everyone agrees with open service and also uses the magazine to educate critics and help them understand “who we are, what we do, and how we serve with honor and integrity right beside them,” the magazine’s editor stated.
Chuck Harrison, a retired Army Colonel, is among those who think lifting the DADT policy is a bad idea.
“We have the best trained army in the history of the world and its primarily because of the moral and ethics of our troops,” said Harrison. “I think the problem with lifting DADT is that it places the emphasis on homosexual personnel above the right of heterosexual soldiers, which could result in potential privacy problems for everyone.”
The military has been prepping for the official repeal date by implementing rules and educational programs to help with the transition. There have been training guides distributed to each Service affirming an LGBT service member’s right to serve, openly and without fear of discrimination.
Commanders have also briefed their personnel that discrimination will not be tolerated, and have held open forums on concerns that any service members might have to the repeal.
The message from the top military officials is clear: LGBT personnel will continue to serve in the military as they always have; the difference is they do not have to conceal their sexual identity.
The September issue will feature 100 LGBT service members: their names, faces, and jobs.
“We want to show the rest of the military – and our country – that there are honorable, courageous LGBT soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard who are laying their lives on the line every day. We want to give other currently serving LGBT members the inspiration to be honest about who they are,” said the editor.
“Above all, we want to help keep our military the most respected, professional organization in the world – a shining example of courage, integrity, equality – and this is how we do it.”
Harrison, meanwhile, noted, "I don’t think we’ll know the impact of this decision until it could be too late. We’re just risking a lot by changing the culture of our military.”