The Conduct Unbecoming CD -ROM
• The CD-ROM version of “Conduct Unbecoming,” was published by ApolloMedia, founded by Clinton Fein, Steve Campbell and Trace Cohen.
The CD-ROM, based on Randy Shilts’s masterpiece of a book by the same name, provided a comprehensive and visually impactful portrayal of the struggles faced by gay men and lesbians in the military.
• The inclusion of filmed segments featuring servicemembers, key litigators and politicians added a powerful emotional element to the narrative, shedding light on the mistreatment and injustice experienced by those fighting for their rights whilst fighting for their country.
• The CD-ROM format offered convenient cross-referencing and interactive features, as well as documents and reports that allowed for in-depth analysis and discussion of important issues surrounding lesbian and gay rights in the military.
• The Conduct Unbecoming CD ROM the first to provide such comprehensive and updated information on the issue.
• The e-Post feature represented the first time a user could easily contact senators and congress members using technology. Rolling Stone magazine called it evolutionary.
• Overall, the groundbreaking CD-ROM used images and video to effectively humanize lesbian and gay servicemembers, shedding light on the injustices and mistreatment they faced at the hands of the military.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Context
February 28, 1995 marked the first anniversary of the Armed Forces’ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the military. Scrutiny of the policy’s implementation revealed a situation far worse than it was before.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was also a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, effectively silencing the ability to define oneself. Just to say the words “I’m gay” was grounds for removal – not only from the military, but from a job, from future employment, and from a community of friends, sometimes family.
To be allowed to exist in an environment where you are encouraged to be all that you can be – as long as you don’t tell anyone about it, and as long as you don’t act on your convictions – was psychological torture, and absurd government policy.
Conduct Unbecoming, the CD-ROM based on Randy Shilts’ book about gays and lesbians in the military, highlighted the inconsistencies inherent in this policy, and painted a picture that both disturbed and enlightened.
Select Media Reviews
Conduct Unbecoming, a CD-ROM based on his 1993 homonymous book on gays in the military, gives us a tantalizing peek at the potential of CD-ROM publishing. Here a good book is rendered even more readable and accessible…….The CD-ROM version takes Shilts’s work to a new level of accessibility and comprehension.
Jon Katz, WIRED Magazine
Rather than pretending to be mere data, this disc is purposefully a political statement and is, therefore, an evolutionary CD-ROM.
Stewart Wolpin, Rolling Stone
The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay servicemembers took on a whole new meaning after a S.F. multimedia company started putting together a CD-ROM on the subject.
John Gilles, Marin Independent Journal
The new CD-ROM version of Randy Shilts’ massive history of gay men and lesbians in the U.S. military is full of tantalizing surprises ….. on the CD version, there is something about actually seeing the grace and honesty of a person fighting through tears to tell the truth that has no comparison in print.
Pat Holt, San Francisco Chronicle
Conduct Unbecoming, a new CD-ROM from ApolloMedia based on Randy Shilts’ book on gays and lesbians in the US Military highlights the inconsistencies inherent in this policy and paints a picture that both disturbs and enlightens.
The military hates to have any lights shown on what it is doing. This CD-ROM is like flicking on the lights in the kitchen.
Kate Dyer, former legislative assistant to Congressman Gerry Studds
The well-intended product expands the printed book to include audio interviews, photographs,resource materials and helpful nudges toward letter-writing activism. The political consciousness is highly commendable, not to mention extremely rare in the interactive market…
Glen Helfand, New Media Magazine
Not only is Conduct Unbecoming entertaining and thought provoking, but it is also a tool for changing this hateful policy which needs to be changed.
U.S. Representative, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey
The young, San Francisco-based ApolloMedia Corporation has produced an electronic version of this historical investigation of gays and lesbians in the U.S. military that expands the print to include brief oral histories, photos, hypertext links, and extensive resource guides and bibliography.
San Francisco Review of Books
A small multimedia publisher has gone head to head against the US Navy and came out on top. San Francisco based ApolloMedia forced the Navy to hoist the white flag in a month long battle to include a recruitment poster in the CD-ROM version of Conduct Unbecoming…
Farhan Memon, The New York Post
Never before have gay people served so extensively – and, in some cases, so openly – in the United States military. And rarely has the military moved so aggressively against homosexuality. The scope and sweep of gay dragnets in the past decade have been extraordinary. Their aim is to coerce service personnel into revealing names of other homosexuals. If investigators are successful, the probes turn into purges in which scores of people are drummed out within weeks. The pressure to cooperate is so fierce that lovers sometimes betray their partners and friends turn against one another.
The ruthlessness of the investigations and hearings serves a central purpose: to encourage lesbian and gay soldiers to resign from the military, to accept passively an administrative discharge or, if they are officers, to leave quietly under the vague rubric of “conduct unbecoming.”
A Navy lawyer told ApolloMedia, which produced of the CD-ROM, that if it used a 1972 recruitment poster in Conduct Unbecoming, it would be “in big jeopardy.”
The Navy claimed that the US Naval Academy crest was a registered trademark. The poster features Ed Graves, an Annapolis graduate and the Navy’s first black poster boy. The Navy stopped using the poster after learning that Graves is gay.
Refusing to bend, ApolloMedia informed the Navy of its intent to use the image anyway, and for a moment, it looked as if neither side would blink. But after mulling over the looming publicity nightmare (ApolloMedia called a press conference to announce the Navy’s actions), and forcing the Navy into an unwinnable First Amendment battle, the Navy eventually withdrew its threats in a humiliating defeat.