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May 31, 2019

Welcome to Onward, hosted by Emily Harman; a new weekly podcast consisting of authentic conversations about overcoming adversity and moving forward. Subscribe now! In this interview Emily’s Naval Academy classmate, Zoe Dunning, shares the obstacles she faced when she came out as lesbian while serving in the military and her successful challenge to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Zoe is the first and only openly gay person allowed to remain on active duty in the military prior to the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.


Episode Highlights:

  • Emily Harman starts the episode with some background on the Naval Academy and the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” military policy.
  • Zoe shares information on her military career.
  • Zoe shares how it felt to serve in the military but not be able to be her authentic self.
  • Zoe shares what happened when she reported for reserve duty after revealing publicly that she is a lesbian.
  • Zoe was being processed out of the military and promoted to Lieutenant Commander at the same time.
  • How did Zoe Dunning become the only open lesbian to serve in the military?
  • What was the tipping point for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”?
  • Zoe shares advice for those looking to overcome adversity.
  • Zoe stood next to President Obama when he signed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
  • Zoe marched in the Gay Pride Parade with the American Legion Post


3 Key Points:

  1.    At one point, Zoe Dunning became the only lesbian to serve openly in the military.
  2.   Sometimes change takes time  Don’t quit. Zoe worked for 18 years to help overturn the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
  3.    Find help and understand that you don’t have to face adversity alone.


Tweetable Quotes:

- (Gay rights organization meeting in San Francisco) I remember walking in the door in my uniform, and I showed up and I said, ‘I just got kicked out, what can I do to help.’” – Zoe Dunning.

- “We have the numbers under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era. Over 13,000 service members lost their careers.” – Zoe Dunning.

- “I’m incredibly proud to serve in the military and I’m also incredibly proud to be an advocate of the LGBTQ community.” – Zoe Dunning.


Resources Mentioned: