Will LGBT Service Members Finally Be Accepted?

A new survey reveals what people really think as DADT is officially repealed today

Courtesy of OutServe

OutServe, an association of actively-serving LGBT military members, released the results of its latest survey just in time for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal celebration today. And it’s good news for openly LGBT military personnel, with many respondents expressing expectations that the repeal will mean greater acceptance in all branches of service.

In fact, as many as 67 percent say they expect colleagues to treat them “universally” or “generally” without discrimination. This is an improvement from the last survey taken more than a year ago before DADT was repealed. OutServe says fewer people were willing to respond then, quite possibly, for fear of being outed.

But things are definitely changing.

“Lots of people at work know a friend of mine is gay,” says one respondent, “and there have been no negative reactions toward him. As for another friend in a combat unit, the whole unit knew he was gay and no one cared.”

Many of those surveyed also express relief at not having to lie about their sexual orientation and risk being discharged – or worse – face punitive action because of being LGBT. One service member explains, “We are professionals. The fact that we put our personal lives aside to put on a uniform and serve is a testament to our commitment to supporting and defending the constitution.”

Another respondent reveals: “The repeal of DADT allows LGBT troops to do what their straight counterparts already take for granted – to share and talk about life events without fear of repercussion. Shared experience can only lead to a better understanding of who we are as individuals, and contribute to the same mission: protection of those we love and service to our country.”

The online survey was completed anonymously by more than five hundred LGBT Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel last week. In anticipation of the official repeal today, as many as 78 percent of respondents admit that they are already out to at least some people in their units. And 38 percent say they’ve already come out to more people since it was announced that DADT would be repealed.

Visibility among openly gay service members is also expected to be on the rise beyond today’s celebration.

When asked if openly LGBT service members would consider taking a same-sex significant other to a military event, 30 percent say “definitely,” and another 29 percent say they “likely” would. This optimistic response is also reflected in how the respondents expect their units will treat them – for the better. Being out, after all, is about being honest – something that’s critical in any unit.

For those LGBT folks in relationships, the repeal may also be a relief. As many as 20 percent of military members surveyed say they’re in committed relationships (while 58 percent are single).

Do you have a DADT story to tell? Please share it with us: nmcdonald@phillymag.com