‘Outserve’ opens up

By Darryl Holliday

LGBT service members aren’t the only ones able to come out publicly with the long-awaited repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A bi-monthly publisher, Outserve, formerly “the underground network of LGBT active duty,” is also celebrating the national shift to justice and equality for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered members of the military with a print publication geared toward the military community.

“[Underground] was part of our tagline, but that’s clearly changed,” said Jon Hopkins, spokesman and Washington director at Outserve.

Once online only, the relatively new magazine has recently begun producing physical copies that will be distributed around the world to both military and non-military readers, by request.

The September issue—the outlet’s third issue—features a photo-essay of gay service members, nearly 71,000 who currently serve in the military. The magazine also profiles some of the 14,000 LGBT individuals who have been discharged.

“The goal of Outserve is to make our military stronger by accepting all [who] serve,” Hopkins said. “In that regard, the magazine is going to highlight what LGBT service members are doing … It’s an opportunity to show an issue the government has basically enforced ignorance about.”

While independent, Outserve works with the Department of Defense to better serve its target audience, hoping to eventually distribute to military bases worldwide.

By the end of its current printing cycle, Outserve will be printing in the low thousands, according to Hopkins.

“I think it’s important that [Outserve] had the stories of all these [LGBT service] members,” said Bridget Altenburg, a former Captain and Army engineer. “It’s important for the rank and file troops to understand the people who are now going to be serving openly—to see the faces of people who were getting kicked out for being gay.”

If asked 10 years ago, Altenburg said she’d be less optimistic that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would transition so smoothly.

Now, it’s more of a non-event.

“Had you asked in the ’90s, I probably would’ve said this is going to be hard, but today, I absolutely believe we’ve come a long way,” she said. “The generation in the military right now have seen things to make it less of a mystery—it makes the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’ easier.”

Altenburg has since left the military after eight-and-a-half years of service. She now lives with her partner and their 1-year-old daughter in Chicago, where she works with Chicago Cares, an advocate organization for stronger communities through volunteerism.

“Chicago does a pretty good job of supporting LGBT rights,” she said, noting the city’s civil union legislation, the Center on Halsted and ongoing hopes for full-marriage rights. “It’s kinda funny actually; I heard a rumor that military officials were at Halsted recruiting gays.”

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