Main | Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Asking And Telling

Former submarine captain Steve Clark Hall is making a documentary about gay and lesbian graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy.
One captain in the Marine Corps had to sign the confining orders to send a lesbian to jail, but was so disturbed that the next day the officer, who was also gay, submitted his resignation papers. Another man, from the Naval Academy Class of 1958, was kicked out of the military because his name was found in the address book of a "known homosexual." Other gay men and lesbians left the service because like Steve Clark Hall, a nuclear submarine captain who retired after a 20-year Navy career, they could no longer bear the burden of harboring an enormous secret about their identity. "I was tired of being single and not being able to live life the way I wanted to," said Hall, 54, who has begun gathering these stories for Out of Annapolis, the documentary film he is making about gay and lesbian alumni of the Naval Academy.


"When I was a midshipman, there were no gay or lesbian role models," he said. "All we ever heard was when someone was kicked out." He hopes the film will help people see that gay service members exist and have achieved great things, and that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which requires gays in the military to hide their sexual identities or risk expulsion - is a "folly."

"This is another way to tell our story and unveil the masks of who we are. We need to educate our fellow alumni and anyone who will pay attention," said Jeff Petrie, the founder of the gay alumni group USNA Out, who has agreed to be interviewed for the film. "When I look back at how other minorities were treated in military history and how far we've come with how those people are now part of an integrated team, I know the same will be true for us one day. And I want to take advantage of every opportunity I can to move that along."
Hall hopes to have the film ready for the festival circuit this summer.

RELATED: I was tipped to this story by JMG reader and USNA Out founder Jeff Petrie (quoted above) who notes that news of the documentary has been posted on the Naval Academy's alumni association website, which Petrie says is "a big deal for us."

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