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Ask Not

2007
Distributed by New Day Films, 190 Route 17M, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926; 888-367-9154 or 845-774-7051
Produced by Johnny Symons
Directed by Johnny Symons
DVD, color, 73 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Gay and Lesbian Studies, Military Studies


Reviewed by Michael J. Coffta, Business Librarian, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 5/7/2009

Hundreds of highly qualified military personnel with highly specialized skills are being discharged due to their sexual orientation. This moving work offers many accounts of gay individuals, their struggles to conceal their sexual orientation, and the consequences of the ďDonít ask, donít tellĒ policy. Such individuals assert that they are every bit as willing to serve and die for their country as a heterosexual, and are being punished for their honesty. The audience also witnesses the grass roots movements and protests against Congressís policy.

In a concise summary of the motives and events leading up to the institution of this policy, the film examines Clintonís bold initiative at the onset of his Presidency to include gays in the military. The action was checked by Washington constituents and religious movements who questioned the gay lifestyle and its alleged effects on combat efficiency. This film cites numerous pieces of compelling data, stating that the military has in fact lowered standards in order to meet recruitment needs for military actions abroad, yet still discharges qualified and battle-tested gay soldiers. In a very revealing segment, a gay soldier speaks of his unit knowing that he was gay and kept it in confidence while serving with him. The filmmakers estimate that there are approximately 65,000 gays currently serving in the US armed forces.

This is a blunt but compassionate instrument of argumentation. The facts and appeals are earnest and unrelenting. This outstanding work may have its most profound impact on a high school audience, whose members are contemplating military service.