Lt. Dan Choi says there is more work to do

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Lt. Dan Choi

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: now, the aftermath

Lt. Dan Choi’s face and name have become nearly synonymous with the fight against DADT. Choi emphasizes that the repeal of the antiquated law barring gays from serving in the armed forces is not simply a triumph for the LGBT community, but for civil rights. “There are few people who get to put in all this effort and see the benefit from the rewards of their labor. We know that it’s a historic civil rights event, not only for gay civil rights, but for overall civil rights. Our work is not just for us, but as we take down the wall of our oppression, it really lowers the walls of other people’s as well.”

There are many opinions surrounding Dan Choi’s role in the repeal of DADT. As a grass-roots advocate, Choi believes his role is integral to the cause. “My role has changed a lot and it has confused a lot of people…my activism has turned into something of a lightning rod for the attention to DADT nationally and internationally. I saw myself and my role as a media whore.” 

Dan ChoThat is not far from what Choi aspires his legacy to be, telling dot429.com in an interview, “I would like to be seen as somebody who made enough trouble and agitated enough that people could not ignore the situation anymore. That would be the feather in my cap.”

Despite being a central public figure in gay activism, Choi, who came out of the closet two years ago, suffers from the same issues that plague many people when they come out. “I’m not fully part of the gay community. I am very new to the gay community. As a military person, it was very difficult for me to embrace the diversity of our entire movement, but I quickly had to because they were embracing me. At the same time, I am not fully there as far as feeling as if I am a solid part of the community. I feel like I am a solid part of the movement, but not the community.”  

Lt. Dan Choi While the repeal is great news, Choi believes there is still a lot more work ahead. “If this certification drags, I have no problem starting a Supreme Court case. I intend to go on the federal level and augment the other cases. We cannot let up on the pressure.”

On Dec. 17, Choi was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Combat PTSD. He says, “I was suicidal and I finally dealt with it. I finally said that it got to be too much.” Choi believes his suicidal thoughts are a composite of coming out to his family and the world, not having people he can trust, and not seeking therapy when he returned from the military. “I am medicated,” Choi says, “I am on a medication to will help me sleep and to deal with my anxiety attacks.

“I have a recurring nightmare of Iraqi men with no hands and no heads asking me to help them out.”

As the movement propels forward and the LGBT community continues to push toward equality on all levels, Choi is trying to “learn to balance [his] fervor with [his] human needs.”

“I found a truth throughout this year that I might not have seen when I first started: action and sacrifice speaks much more loudly than the best crafted, eloquent speech.” With that said, Choi offhandedly mentions, “the Libertarian party has asked me to run for Senate, because I am old enough in 2012.” 

While there is no confirmation that he will run, Choi reiterates his dedication to equal rights, stating, “success for me would be to deeply fall in love again, have a family, and really become something of a professor without portfolio for equal rights.”

Out In Jersey story provided by www.dot429.com

Lt. Dan Choi

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: now, the aftermath

Lt. Dan Choi’s face and name have become nearly synonymous with the fight against DADT. Choi emphasizes that the repeal of the antiquated law barring gays from serving in the armed forces is not simply a triumph for the LGBT community, but for civil rights. “There are few people who get to put in all this effort and see the benefit from the rewards of their labor. We know that it’s a historic civil rights event, not only for gay civil rights, but for overall civil rights. Our work is not just for us, but as we take down the wall of our oppression, it really lowers the walls of other people’s as well.”