Alisha Guffey is a 14-year Veteran of the U.S. Army and a recent fellow with the U.S. State Department with the Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships. In May 2016, she completed her Master of International Business Degree at The Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts. During her tenure at Fletcher, Alisha pursued her passion for creativity through a mentorship with the Writers Guild of America and ultimately started her own production company called Combat Camera Productions, which is devoted to discussing conflict by sharing real stories and first-person narratives. While at the Fletcher School, Alisha began exploring the role that entrepreneurship, media, and communications can play in social change. This lead to the founding of THE ASK & TELL PROJECT that is dedicated to promoting a more inclusive culture within the U.S. Military by sharing the untold stories of LGBTQ veterans and servicemembers in the light of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Alisha is born and raised in Indiana and completed a Bachelor of Art in Telecommunications and Studio Art at Indiana University - Bloomington in 2003.
Imagine it’s a Monday morning. You arrive at your desk, check emails, and begin the weekly routine.
Yet, today your boss announces he has decided he will do a health and welfare visit to each employee’s home. This is the reality of life in the U.S. Military. The privacy- boundaries between your personal life and work life - doesn’t exist.
I began to panic.
When you’re gay and serving, moments like these threaten your entire existence and all that you form your identity around – could come crumbling down.
For so long we have been trained to serve in silence, unable to discuss our personal lives. Unable to share those we love with the world or bring our partners to unit functions.
The culture Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell created can’t be undone in a day or by the stroke of a pen. It takes times.
The experiences of LGBTQ service members and veterans remain largely unknown - hidden behind a dark shroud of the notorious Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Even today, more than six years after the repeal, military culture and society as a whole are far from accepting our community. I realize that I know so little about my fellow LGBTQ soldiers and fear still lingers because it has been ingrained that to remain safe, I had to keep a part of myself hidden.
Regardless of my anxiety, I knew it was time to tell the story of being gay and serving in the military. Is there anyone better to tell the story than those who are living it?
It is for these reasons, and many others, that I have founded THE ASK & TELL PROJECT - a media platform that offers current and former LGBTQ service members a chance to share their memories, beliefs, fears, and optimism through video, audio, photo, and the written-word across @askandtell social media channels and askandtell.com.
I’ve started by sharing my own story, and I truly hope that all LGBTQ veterans and service members will join the ASK & TELL movement.