Rose Rollins is speaking out about her L Word character Tasha and the "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" storyline garnering national attention for her role.
Playing a captain in the Army National Guard, Rollins' character is
navigating the difficult choice many real GLBT soldiers are facing in the
U.S. military—whether to stay in the closet or face being discharged and
losing their careers.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Rollins says there is "a lot more
to Tasha than her 'attitude'," and this is certainly a true statement.
Although Tasha has developed a reputation as being the 'tough' girl on the
show, her character is about far more than her exterior 'attitude'. Tasha's
storyline delves into a serious and controversial issue facing our country
in the midst of an ongoing war that continues to drain not just the economic
resources of the country, but the human ones as well.
Crafted by Colin Powell in the early 90's and signed into action by
President Bill Clinton, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy allows homosexual
soldiers to serve in the military as long as they are not open about their
sexual orientation. Under the policy, the military cannot ask service
members about their sexual activity or orientation and cannot investigate a
service member's sexual activity or orientation without existing solid
evidence of their homosexuality.
In exchange, soldiers are not to engage in homosexual activities or do
anything that demonstrates their sexual orientation, including making public
statements or entering into a same-sex union or marriage. The flaw in the
policy is that a soldier who comes out, or is 'forced' out can still be
discharged from the military simply based on their sexuality.
Brought on board The L Word in the show's fourth season, Rose Rollins
initially thought she was going to be playing a basketball player, according
to the New York Daily News. Instead, her role on the show transitioned to
become one of the most important ongoing storylines in the series.
"When we created the character of Tasha, one of my writers said to me, we
should do a lesbian who serves in the military, somebody who serves in
Iraq," series creator and writer Ilene Chaiken tells the New York Daily
News. "Once we finished our first season with her and touched upon the
issue, we said we have to do 'Don't ask, don't tell'."
As closeted soldier Tasha Williams, Rollins plays a character who loves her
career in the military, regardless of the traumas she has endured serving in
Iraq. Although her sexual orientation is known to some of her other gay
colleagues, so far she has managed to keep her commanders off her back.
While back home in the U.S., Tasha meets radio and web site hostess Alice
Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) and falls in love with her.
Alice's refusal to keep herself and their relationship under wraps threatens
to bust Tasha's secret life wide open and put her in danger of being
discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Now Tasha has to face
the decision of whether to try to salvage her career at the expense of her
lover or fight the system that has decided being openly gay and serving in
the military is incompatible.
The issue that Tasha, and the real gays & lesbians serving in the military
are dealing with, is a pivotal one also being faced by the current
Democratic and Republican contenders in the 2008 presidential race. All of
the current Democratic frontrunners, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama
and John Edwards support repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and
allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. On the
Republican side, however, contenders John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee,
Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul all support keeping the policy in
Rollins said she spoke with a number of soldiers about the "Don't Ask, Don't
Tell" policy while researching her role on The L Word and was moved by their
stories. "These women have been through so much," she told the New York
GLBT Americans will likely have to wait until at least 2009 and the election
of a new president to see how the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue will be
resolved—or won't. L Word fans, however, only have to wait until Sunday
night to watch the next chapter of Tasha's story.