AGLP Symposium


Bringing the Uniform Out of the Closet:

Artistic and Clinical Perspectives of Gay Military Life Before and After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
(Held in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 21, 2013)

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" was a United States policy that ended in September of 2011. While instated and even after, it has had negative effects on homosexuals serving in the military. Mental health care workers need to understand how this policy has affected both those serving as well as their families. This presentation will explore the effects of DADT from several viewpoints. Service members' stories will be shared through a photojournalism project of photos and oral interviews with service members affected by the military's ban on homosexuals serving. This constitutes an ethnographic record of these service members' stories that is a window into the broader mental health concerns of the population. A professional narrative will help attendees understand how policy changes came about and explain ways to identify and treat lasting scars. Other discussants will share personal accounts as well as contrast our military to those in other countries.

Two of the presenters share especially poignant perspectives. Vincent Cianni is a photographer with recent subject matter focusing on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. LT Donald Bramer was a recent speaker at one of Vincent’s openings and will be giving his personal account of how the policy change has affected him.

Eric Yarbrough, MD  
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
LT Donald Bramer, BS

Gays in the Military: How America Thanked Me

Gays in the Military: How America Thanked Me is a visual and audio investigation into the effects and aftermath of the military’s ban on lives and careers of LGBT service members from WWII veterans to recent enlistees and active duty personnel. The project combines photographs, text and audio recounting their experiences of discrimination, harassment and civil and human rights abuses. Even though Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, implemented during the Clinton administration in 1993, has recently been repealed, there have been considerable effects from the ban on homosexuality in the military over the years. The photographer discusses his project of taking photographs and conducting interviews of military veterans and service members affected by the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military, either before or after the enactment of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and after its repeal. He reviews the history of the ban and presents excerpts from the interviews.
Vincent Cianni, MFA

From Other Parts of the World

This portion of the presentation will focus on gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces in other parts of the world. The presenter is a currently serving military psychiatrist in the Norwegian Defence Medical Services, with deployments in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Norway has allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces since 1977.
Major Øyvind Erik Jensen, MD

Changing the Policies; Insider's view

This portion of the presentation will focus on how "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was viewed and changed from within the military. It will briefly cover the evolution of Don't Ask; Don't Tell from the perspective of a military psychiatrist. Personal vignettes from Korea, Somalis and Iraq will be shared.
Dr. Elspeth Ritchie, MD,MPH  

Discussion: Mental Health Effects of Don't Ask Don't Tell

Psychiatry has had a long relationship wtih the military and homosexuality. Prior to 1973, psychiatrists helped the military screen out gays and lesbians from service. Following the removal of homosexuality from the DSM, this was no longer the case, and in 1990 the APA issued a statement against discrimination in the workplace, including the military, on the basis of sexual identity. Don't Ask Don't Tell put military psychiatrists and service members needing mental health treatment in a difficult position, and was a constant source of psychological stress on those serving.
Mary Barber, MD