BOOK REVIEWs (Guides to Sexual Orientation)


Author (or Editor): Powers, Bob and Ellis, Alan

Title: A Manager’s Guide to Sexual Orientation in the Workplace;

A Family and Friend’s Guide to Sexual Orientation

Fiction? Anthology?

Publisher: Routledge

Date: 1995, 1996

ISBN: 0-415-91277-6  0-415-91275-X

Series Name: (2 books known)

Physical description: Hardback and paper  209 pp 223 pp

Relevance to doaskdotell: “Do Ask, Do Tell” slogan



The "Do Ask, Do Tell" Slogan

In the perception of the public, the phrase or slogan, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" derives from the "compromise" position ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue") "worked out" by Congress and President Clinton in 1993 regarding homosexuals in the military.


From the DADT Bibliography: Page 338. The Powers-Ellis book A Manager's Guide to Sexual Orientation in the Workplace (New York and London: Routledge, 1995, ISBN 0- 415-91277-6 LOC call HD6285.P65 ) advertises itself with a red campaign-button containing the slogan "Do Ask Do Tell" on the spine and back cover (in the hardcover edition, on the dusk jacket). At the end of Chapter 1, there is a brief aphorism called "DO ASK! DO TELL!" in which the "outing" of the gay community to the mainstream because of the coincidental "tragedy and travesty" of the AIDS epidemic and the military gay ban debate. The book did NOT include this slogan in its ISBN title, and please do not confuse it with mine! As indicated from the book's front-cover header, "101 Ways to Make Your Workplace More Inclusive," the book is targeted towards corporate human resources departments. The book does contain a lot of personal testimonials.


Powers and Ellis have published a second book, A Family and Friend's Guide to Sexual Orientation: Bridging the Divide Between Gay and Straight (Routledge, 1996). I have only very recently (Dec. 1999) found and purchased a copy of this book. The opening section, "Getting Started," and closing "101 Steps on the Road to Acceptance" do mention the "Do Ask, Do Tell" concept, both respect to a large number of personal accounts presented and also with respect to red and white "Do Ask Do Tell" buttons or stickers that have been available, in gay bookstores and facilities. I have not personally seen these; in any case they do not seem to be nearly as common as pink-triangles and, especially, rainbow flags and banners.


Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network, a watchdog legall assistance group for members of the military affected by the "don't ask, don't tell" policy ( provides dog-tags which read "Do Ask Do Tell" on one side and "Say Nothing, Sign Nothing" on the reverse. The slogan has also been used by AIDS organizations (encouraging honesty about HIV status before sexual encounters) and other businesses, such as psychological counseling services.


A "Do Ask Do Tell" film might well include material (such as re-enactment scenes or discussion among parties, but probably not just "interviews," and vaulted film clips or film strips) from some of the personal accounts in these and other similar books (such as several major books authored by litigants against the military gay ban, listed in my bibliography and supplemental bibliography). What I would like to see is a bigger concept, maybe a series of historical films (hopefully for theaters as well as cable) building on the development of individualism, tying individualism to the ability to understand what makes others (especially those in more “communitarian” cultures,

including religious cultures) tick, and tying it also the degree of responsibility for others. The concept – disclosing and understanding what makes us diverse and what makes us tick – is much bigger than its original interpretation with respect to gay issues.


It is noteworthy that the “style” of this book is to address the reader as a consumer (by providing worksheets), as if it were a handbook or self-help book.  This technique is discouraged in literary writing, but often recommended to authors in the book business if one wants to “sell” volumes of books.  I personally don’t write in this style;  it seems manipulative and treats the reader as if “they” (or “eir”) were nothing more than a member of a tribe, facing the idea that their friend of family member or employee were a member of another (marginalized) tribe.