Alex Nicholson: Talking About 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Alex Nicholson i i

Formerly an Army translator, Alex Nicholson was "outed" by a fellow member of his unit and discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Above, Nicholson in the documentary Ask Not, airing on PBS. Persistent Films hide caption

itoggle caption Persistent Films
Alex Nicholson

Formerly an Army translator, Alex Nicholson was "outed" by a fellow member of his unit and discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Above, Nicholson in the documentary Ask Not, airing on PBS.

Persistent Films

Alex Nicholson — a former Army human intelligence collector proficient in several foreign languages, including Arabic — was honorably discharged in 2002 under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which bars the estimated 65,000 gay Americans serving in the U.S. military from acknowledging their relationships and living their lives openly.

After going public with his story in 2005, Nicholson founded Servicemembers United, a nonprofit organization tasked with advocacy and activism on DADT.

Servicemembers United argues that what was intended as a compromise policy — a step toward the integration of gay and lesbian servicemembers in the U.S. armed forces — "has been consistently misunderstood, misapplied, and grossly abused."

As things stand now, the group says, "the policy now functions in a state of arbitrary enforcement that is inconsistent with the needs of the military and with the principles of sound public policy."

Nicholson was featured on the cover of the newsmagazine The Advocate, and he is one of the subjects of a new documentary on DADT, Ask Not.

The film, directed by Bay Area documentarian Johnny Symons, is airing on PBS as part of the network's series Independent Lens.

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