Don't Ask Don't Tell Die Young

David McDiarmid (Australian, 1952 – 1995)
Original 1994; this print 2012
Inkjet print
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Hope College Collection, purchased with funds donated by David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was the official policy governing service by LGBTQ people in the US military from 1993 to 2011. It allowed LGBTQ people to serve in the military as long as they were not open about their sexual identities; but if a person was open about their identity, the policy allowed them to be discharged from military service or barred from enlisting in the first place. This print by Australian artist and gay rights activist David McDiarmid uses the "don't ask, don't tell" phrase ironically to criticize the culture of secrecy and shame that discouraged some LGBTQ people--gay men, especially--from disclosing their HIV/AIDS status to potential sexual partners during the 1980s and 90s. The failure of people to ask or tell about their HIV/AIDS status allowed the disease to spread and caused many more deaths than might have been the case if the epidemic had been properly managed as a public health emergency. Tragically, McDiarmid himself was a victim of that culture of secrecy and he died of HIV/AIDS-related complications in 1995 shortly before his 43rd birthday. 

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