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HBO Documentary on DADT History Debuts on Repeal Date

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HBO is marking the end of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy by airing a new documentary that chronicles the ban on openly-gay military service.

“The Strange History of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'” debuts Monday at midnight on the cable TV network, to coincide with the law’s official repeal. It will then have its first prime-time airing Tuesday at 8pm Eastern.

THE STRANGE HISTORY OF DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL: David McKean Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Filmmaker Randy Barbato tells OutQ News that when he and his co-director Fenton Bailey began making the film about two years ago, they initially thought it would be “an essay about institutionalized homophobia.”

BARBATO: We didn’t really imagine tracking the repeal process…that was going to be part of it. But we thought…that’s why we interviewed so many anonymous soldiers because we really thought it was going to be a film telling their story and not necessarily a political thriller with an exciting and happy ending.

But there were a few servicemembers who DID show their face in the film, including retired Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach. The 20-year Air Force veteran says that despite his very public battle against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ he considers it to be “the best thing that has every happened” to him.

THE STRANGE HISTORY OF DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL: Victor Fehrenbach Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

FEHRENBACH: That first day I came back to work after I came out, it didn’t hit me until I started to walk up to my building at work, and as I was walking it hit me that this was the first time I would not have to lie, I wouldn’t have to hide, I wouldn’t have to make up stories, I wouldn’t have to sort of look over my shoulder in fear, and watch what I said. And it was probably the proudest day in my 20 years.

Fehrenbach says he looks forward to the thousands of other gay and lesbian servicemembers getting that same feeling of pride Tuesday when the law that affected them for so long is finally repealed.


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