Date of Award
Program or Major
Master of Arts
Karen Van Gundy
In 2010, the very controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy was repealed, allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) members to serve openly in the military without fear of legal persecution. Now that a decade has passed, this research seeks to find whether LGB service members feel safe and comfortable serving openly in the military ranks; whether some groups—perhaps those in more protected or privileged positions—feel more safe, whereas others feel less safe; and whether LGB military members are pressured to adhere to homonormativity to be accepted in the military.I conducted a qualitative study with semi-structured interviews to answer these research questions. I used snowball sampling to find and interview 20 cisgender lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members who served either both during DADT’s implementation and after its repeal, or only after DADT’s repeal. The research revealed that, while most LGB military members feel comfortable being gay and out now in a post-DADT military, some do not. Further, the militarization of hegemonically masculine ideals privileges certain LGB military members (i.e., lesbians, those in non-operational support units, those who are homonormatively performative) and disadvantages others (i.e., gay men in the Marine Corps and in special operations), allowing some populations to feel safer being gay and out in the military than others. Finally, LGB military members reproduce militarized masculinity by adhering to homonormativity through the performance of invisible labor in the form of emotional work.
O’Connell, Whitney Elizabeth, "Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Inclusion in the Military: A Qualitative Look at Military Culture a Decade after the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (2021). Master's Theses and Capstones. 1484.