New documentary films lives of Gay academy grads
 

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posted Friday, November 26, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 48

New documentary films lives of Gay academy grads
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Out of Annapolis is a timely 71-minute film chronicling the lives and travails of Gay Navy Academy alumni. The powerful film is set against the backdrop of the ongoing dilemma that surrounds the proposal to repeal the military's Gay ban, known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT), which prohibits openly Gay men and Lesbian women from serving in the U.S. military.

The film is produced by retired Commander Steve Clark Hall who graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1975 and served in the Navy for 20 years. Hall had a very successful career as a Naval officer - in fact, at some point in his career, the attack submarines Greenling and Drum were under his command.

Out of Annapolis is about the lives of several Gay alumni of the Naval Academy, and was produced by a group that represents 190 LGBT alumni. Eleven Gay alumni share their experiences in the film through interviews.

'The primary target audience was the Queer and questioning midshipmen who don't know if they're really Gay or not and can see it's OK to be Gay because, look, these other people had an OK time, they made it,' Hall told Navy Times. 'My number-two audience was parents, to let the parents know, 'Hey, your kid's going to be OK.'

Hall said there were several midshipmen present at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, California when the film first screened back in June. 'There have been midshipmen at some of the other screenings, too,' he said, 'We had about a dozen at the D.C. screening three weeks ago. And we've provided half a dozen copies of the film to see with their parents.'

Surprisingly, Hall says that the number-one myth he is trying to break down is that a majority of people don't identify as being Gay when they start at the Naval Academy. 'Of 180 alumni we interviewed and surveyed, only one out of six identified as being Gay or Lesbian when they entered the academy.'

The average entry age of a midshipman is 18 or 19 years.

'The worst thing that can happen is when they [midshipmen] don't get to finish the academy because they are identified as Gay - that hasn't happened in a little while - or they get booted out of the service when they wanted to be there. There's not a lot of those people,' said Hall. 'But the people who do get caught are pretty emotionally damaged. For example, Robin [Bolster, class of 1984] didn't even recognize that she was a Lesbian. She just fell in love with someone of the same gender. Her roommate suspected she was too close to this friend and turned her in. And it was pretty devastating for her and her family.'

Still, Hall says that the attitudes towards Gays are changing at the Naval Academy. 'One male professor told me that he asked the question to his class, 'How many of you have a friend here at the academy who has told you that they're Gay?' He said 100% of the class raised their hands. So it seems most of the kids there do have friends that are Gay,' concluded Hall.



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