Ask Not (2008)

JOHNNY SYMONS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.   

USA, 2008.  Persistent VisionsCinematography by , , .  Music by .  Film Editing by .  

Bill Clinton’s attempt to lift the ban on gays and lesbians in the U.S. military resulted in the terrible compromise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a policy which forbids the army from asking its recruits their sexual orientation but continues to discriminate nonetheless. This excellent documentary by Johnny Symons tells just some of the many stories of capable, trained soldiers who have been dismissed from the armed forces because of their sexual orientation, post-Clinton. Symons interviews former soldiers who tour the country trying to educate young people on the issue, as well as giving us a glimpse at a non-violent protest organization whose members visit recruitment centres and insist on being allowed to serve their country despite being open from the outset about being gay or lesbian. Most effective is the footage of various honchos in Washington who spout outmoded rhetoric about their (they believe) sturdy reasoning behind the continued prejudice (apparently gays and lesbians can’t keep it in their pants on the field of combat), as well as the tale of one particular soldier (whose identity is concealed) who enlists and has to sublimate his entire gay identity in order to stay in service. The film never has a sagging moment, buoyed by an excellent music score and top-flight direction.

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