Lived Experiences Of Military Lesbians Who Served Under The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy
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Type of WorkText
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a policy that banned asking military personnel about their sexual orientation. There is a lack of literature that addresses issues in the gay and lesbian military community. The repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has provided an opportunity to revisit this most important issue of equal rights for all citizens. Because there is a lack of literature on issues that impact the gays and lesbians in the military community, their needs have been unmet. This exploratory qualitative study provides a better understanding of this community, which will inform improvements in the culture of the military relative to the treatment of women and lesbians and the provision of adequate services to these servicewomen who serve and protect this nation. Framed by stigma theory and utilizing narrative methodologies, this study explored the lived experiences of eleven lesbians who served in the military and how they coped with discrimination, sexual identity suppression, and their leadership roles. The major themes that emerged from the study were: religion and spirituality, career advancement, coming out, policy, harassment, sexual harassment, support system, living censored, and social life. These women shared their stories about serving in the military and having to closet one of the most important parts of their lives. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are recommended.