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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Out of the closet, onto the battlefield: Life for gay servicemen before and after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
by Spinks, Sarah L., Ph.D., Capella University, 2015, 195; 3689997
Abstract (Summary)

The U.S. military has struggled with the implementation of diversity efforts throughout history and a key factor supporting this failure is the lack of information collected from its minority groups. An extensive examination of women and gays in the military illustrated a continued disadvantageous environment for both minority groups, which was created by the military's sexual based discrimination. More specifically, the history of sexual orientation discrimination of gays in the military coupled with the lack of research available indicated a need for additional exploration in this field of study. Seminal research efforts provide little insight to the gay service members' perspective within the military. Additionally, current research is excessively narrow, focusing on military readiness, cohesion, and overall military effectiveness. In an effort to close the gap in literature, this qualitative study explored the perspectives of 11 gay men and their experiences as gay service members, before and after the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). The results of this phenomenological research indicated, as per social identity theory, participants struggled with being gay in the U.S. military. Based on the in-depth interviews, participants felt DADT was an unfair policy which silenced them as a minority group. The DADT policy created family issues and a hostile work environment where participants were subject to sexual orientation discrimination, leading to a sense of alienation, a reduction in job participation, and a decrease in overall job satisfaction. After the repeal, participants reported a slow and sometimes forced attempt at cultural change which resulted in continuing discrimination and ongoing family issues. Out of fear of military retaliation, only some of the participants chose to reveal their sexual orientation following the repeal. Some of the participants who chose to come out of the closet reported continued harassment from their peers and leadership. These gay servicemen suffered from minority stress related to their experiences and expressed concerns regarding their future treatment in the U.S. military.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Herr, John
Commitee: Dell'Osso, Linda, Salmons, Janet
School: Capella University
Department: School of Business and Technology
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: LGBTQ studies, Gender studies, Military studies
Keywords: Don' tell (dadt), Gays in the military, Minority stress theory, Qualitative phenomenology, Repeal of don't ask, Social identity theory, Women in the military
Publication Number: 3689997
ISBN: 978-1-321-69696-7
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