Novel details military service during ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

"Don't Tell," by Kathy Kron

Dedicated to those who serve in silence, Don’t Tell (Lethe Press, 2011) chronicles a romantic relationship between two women in the military in the 1980s. Author Kathy Kron (JD ’99) says the story was inspired by her own experiences in basic training and military service at Fort Carson, Colo., before the recently reversed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went into effect.

Don’t Tell’s protagonist — a woman named Gray Edwards — unexpectedly falls in love with Annie Randall during basic training. After training ends, the two characters are stationed in different parts of the country and spend years trying to get back together.

After Annie narrowly survives a deployment mission gone wrong, Gray decides to give up her military career so they can be together. The decision leads to a less-than-happy ending.

Don’t Tell isn’t just a love story. Kron wrote the book to share the struggles that thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers were forced to keep quiet. Soldiers who didn’t hide their sexual identities or whose identities were discovered were discharged from the military back then, Kron says.

“You had to be a totally different person with a split personality,” Kron says. “There were limited situations when you could be ‘out.’ Someone could always see you or find you.”

Kron — now a lawyer in Lewisburg, Pa. — says Don’t Tell is the start of a series of books she’s writing on the subject of gay relationships in the military. In her opinion, a lot of books in the gay and lesbian genre lack storylines and contain too much erotica, but Don’t Tell is different.

“This is real life; there’s nothing special or different about gay people,” she says. “Why can’t you have women as main characters who like other women? It should be mainstream. The characters only have one difference.”


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