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UWF survey on military life after Don't Ask, Don't Tell

ESCAMBIA COUNTY   --  It's been over a year and a half since the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy ended.

And a new research project at the University of West Florida aims to find out what life is like in the military particularly for those who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered.
The policy, in effect for almost twenty years, said gays and lesbians could serve as long as they weren't open about their sexuality.

Signs have been showing up recently at some bars and clubs in Pensacola asking for help with the research project.
And we conducted a smaller survey of our own.
The signs ask veterans or active duty personnel who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to email Doctor Christopher Cotten.
He's an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at UWF who's conducting the study with two other UWF staff members.

Nolan Taylor, Veteran: "I'm just a normal guy and like being gay was not a big deal."   
Nolan Taylor who's gay, spent about three months in the Navy last year.

Nolan Taylor, Veteran: "The captains and the petty officers that were in charge of our division, they were pretty open, they were pretty cool."

The 18 year-old from Century was discharged because early he was found to have vision problems in boot camp.
He says he wishes he could have stayed in the service.
Nolan Taylor, Veteran: "I wasn't really open about who I was because we were too busy doing things like working out, PT, eating all that."

"It was definitely challenging, but it was worth it. I wouldn't regret doing it. It was... It taught me a lot to work with people."
Terry Hargrove, a lesbian who also served in the Navy, had a much different experience.
"There was a sexual assault by an officer who thought I needed a man and then there was a female officer who thought I needed a woman."
Hargrove served from 1980 to 1983 when gays were banned outright from the service.
"They would sit across the street from the house in a van and have a camera trained on the door like 24-7. I'd have to sneak in and out the back door."

 "I saw women threatened to be thrown overboard, stuff like that.
"It was just harassment that we couldn't do anything about. And I wish they had had don't ask don't tell when I was in."

Reporter: "How do you feel now that that's gone?"
"I think it's great. I think it's awesome."

Researchers will be conducting interviews this summer, then put it all together in the fall.
They're hoping to publish results next year.