Don't Ask Don't Tell (trope)

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Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) is a 1993 U.S. law that is sometimes used as a plot device in slash fanfiction and other fanworks. The law, in effect until September 20, 2011, banned openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from serving in the U.S. military. (Prior to the passage of DADT, homosexuality in the U.S. military was banned by regulation; afterwards, homosexuals could serve as long as they never admitted, or let anyone know, that they were homosexual.)[1]

DADT is a common theme in fandoms with canon U.S. military characters, such as Stargate.

Sometimes DADT is used as a story tag more generally to cover any sort of working environment, such as Star Trek's Starfleet, The Professionals' CI-5, or The Sentinel's Cascade police force, where homophobia makes it difficult or impossible to come out and stay employed, or milieus such as popslash/bandom, where coming out could be a publicity nightmare.

When DADT, or similar topics, becomes a major theme for a story or vid, the fanwork may be called issuefic or an issue vid. These terms can be used informatively or perjoratively.

A 2013 Slash Report episode noted that the change in U.S. law killed interest in the trope.[2]

Notable works using DADT as a theme

In Canon

  • DC Comics: Kate Kane is a lesbian who was expelled from the United States Military Academy after she refused to deny allegations of a homosexual relationship with a classmate. Seeking an alternate way to be a soldier and serve the public, she took on the role of Batwoman. [4] As the lead character of Detective Comics from issue 854 through 863, she is one of DC Comics' highest-profile gay characters.
  • Donald Strachey Mysteries: In the film canon, Donald's backstory includes a discharge from the Army under DADT after he was discovered in a relationship with a teammate.


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