March 28, 2011— -- An underground group of gay and lesbian service members today launched a new magazine, OutServe, hoping it will spread awareness about the contributions of gay troops and serve as a watchdog for the full repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
OutServe, the group behind the magazine, was formed last year to create a supportive community for active-duty gay service members who still cannot reveal their sexual orientation out of fear that they might be discharged while "don't ask, don't tell" is being repealed. The 18-page magazine, published electronically, represents the latest step in that mission, with feature stories, photographs and contact information for OutServe chapters around the world. The publishers plan to make the next edition available in print as well as online.
"We definitely hope to have it in select [military] installations, as well as the Department of Defense," J. Mills, the editor of the magazine who is active-duty in the Air Force, said, asking that his first name be withheld to avoid reprisal from the military.
Mills pulled together the first edition of the magazine with a team of three other people but, he said, he expects the May-June issue to be twice as long with work from more contributors. He said OutServe has already been contacted by potential advertisers and others who simply want to give their time and talents.
"The magazine really is a grassroots efforts by our own people to reach out and support our own," Mills said.
As the formal repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" progresses, Mills expects the magazine to share stories about OutServe members and focus on still-contentious issues such as benefits for partners of gay service members, he said.
OutServe Grows to Include Nearly 3,000 Members
OutServe was formed in July and has rapidly grown to include about 2,900 members in more than 40 chapters. The group says that members come from all five military branches, including a mix of officers and enlisted men.
President Obama signed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" into law in December but the implementation of the repeal is occurring gradually. The Pentagon has said that the training process will be completed this year, with different timelines for each branch of the service.
OutServe Magazine is aimed primarily at active-duty lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops, but its editors hope it might also make a difference to others in the military who come across the publication.
"It just helps us get our message out and helps people to see that this is no big deal," Mills said. "Full implementation is right around the corner, and we think it's a great thing to get this out sooner rather than later."
ABC's Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.