Dan Choi Knows Plenty of Gay Activists Don’t Like Him. Big Whoop

The first gay pride parade Lt. Dan Choi ever attended was San Francisco’s. Last year. When he served as grand marshal. No wonder so many activists can’t stand the guy.

Easily the boldest active duty solder fighting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Choi draws ire from two distinct camps: gay activists (particularly in Gay Inc.) and servicemembers (particularly gay ones). And while I’m sure there are folks who belong to both camps that don’t like the guy, I haven’t heard from them, but feel free to email me!

But no matter what you think of Choi’s tactics (chaining himself to the White House fence; trying to subpoena President Obama), you gotta give the guy credit for speaking more transparently than any self-appointed gay leader. Especially those who have told Choi to take a back seat while the experts get their names in the papers.

[Video interview from NYC Pride via]

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  • s_b

    I sometimes question Dan Choi’s approach (really wasn’t a fan of the short-lived hunger strike, for example), but anyone who rankles Gay Inc. that much can’t be all bad!

  • Jorge

    I really dislike the “either you’re with us, or you’re against us” mentality within these groups and lobbyists. While their timetables are at odds, their ultimate goals are nearly identical. We’re not taking steps back, so why can’t we attack on multiple fronts?

  • Kieran

    Good for Dan Choi. Nothing wrong with being an independent Free Agent.

  • Michael @

    Make that “you gotta give the guy credit for speaking more transparently than” those gay “leaders” who make over $300,000 a year, have their own multi-storied building with its own trademarked FLAG [guess the rainblow flag wasn’t good enough] and direct over 100 salaried employees…and those who make a little less, etc., etc.,…and invited to the White House.

    One technical correction: while the recommendation that Dan be discharged has not yet been finalized, being part of a not-yet-mobilized National Guard unit, he is not “active duty” ….except in the fight against the ban and for other LGBT rights.


  • robert

    He failing was obvious. He actually got out there and did something rather than sitting comfortably at home bitching on website forums.

  • Qjersey

    if Stonewall happened today Gay, Inc. would be condemning them and issuing press releases about how not all gays are rioters.

  • TampaZeke

    Wait a minute. You claim that the fact that he was the Grand Marshal of the first Gay Pride he attended is a reason why we should hate him?

    You’re an IDIOT!

    The man was an active duty soldier and a graduate of West Point. He had VERY good reason not to attend a Gay Pride parade before he came out publicly and was ready and willing to risk his military career in order to become a gay rights advocate.

    I am TOTALLY impressed that he came out while on active duty. I am TOTALLY impressed that he had the courage to be grand marshal in the San Francisco Pride parade and I think he TOTALLY deserved the honor of being grand marshal in his FIRST Pride parade!

  • Michael @


    If fact, that’s, more or less, what the 1969 edition of Gay, Inc., did.

    According to various histories, at a NY Mattachine Society meeting less than three weeks after Stonewall, its secretary, a Mrs. Cervantes, said, “what we ought to have is a gay vigil, in a park. Carry candles, perhaps. A peaceful vigil. I think we should be firm, but just as amicable and sweet…”

    James Fouratt interrupted her: “SWEET! BULLSHIT! There’s the stereotype homosexual again. Soft, weak, sensitive. Bullshit!”

    And before everyone feels all superior, remember all those “sweet” post-Prop 8 victory, “Join the Impact” events, some with candles, and the absurd “Day Without a Gay” proposal.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Michael @ Its more of less what they have done at each stage of fighting for equality.

    They don’t want Harvey Milk to run in SF. They didn’t want to make a big deal about AIDS. They didn’t want marriage equality as an issue, and, in fact, they tried to block the first suits in MA. They don’t like reaching out to other organizations in solidarity such as unions and groups that represent people of color. On, and on, and on.

    I believe its important to balance between insiders and outsider, but quite often, the issue with the insider is that they see no value to being an outsider at all. Historically, they are just wrong and were proven to be wrong on multiple occasions in the past.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    I like Choi’s sense of authenticity. Agree with him or not- that’s a rare quality in politics.

  • CJ

    Dan Choi is a “Rosa Parks” of some sorts. Although some people will disagree with me on that, we can’t deny that HE is doing something when many limit their advocacy to silence.

    Some people choose to walk in parades. Some people write to their legislators. Some vote. Some rant in online forums. Some push for equal rights through more organized and political methods. At the end of the day, those that are silent are sitting back while others attempt to speak for equality for themselves AND for all those that are silent. Dan Choi appears genuine AND when the dust settles many years from now, his name will be mentioned as one person who sacrificed and shouted out for equal rights.

    I’m thankful for Dan Choi’s speaking out. I am thankful that inequality is something he doesn’t take likely. Unfortunately, many of us have become accustomed to being second class citizens.

    I’m thankful that MLK didn’t remain silent & I appreciate those who are speaking out right now. Let’s continue to push our senators and our president to follow through on their promises. Equal rights should not be ignored and pushed to a later date while it is studied.

  • CJ

    “The first gay pride parade Lt. Dan Choi ever attended was San Francisco’s. Last year. When he served as grand marshal. No wonder so many activists can’t stand the guy.”

    It sounds more like jealousy to me. He’s getting much of the attention in the LGBT community right now and others (who have been fighting for equality for years) aren’t getting the same level of attention. This sometimes happens. Look at Obama vs. the Clintons. The Clintons felt that they deserved the presidency once again. When they looked at Obama they saw a guy who “gave a good speech once.”

    We’re all fighting for equality in our own ways. Dan Choi is definitely more visible than most of us. But, not many of us are willing to speak as loudly as he is.

  • Michael @


    “When they looked at Obama they saw a guy who ‘gave a good speech once’.”

    Not certain either ever characterized him that way, but, for LGBTs, it’s turned out to be pretty much true.

  • Joe

    @CJ: It is HRC’s own fault for not being seen as the fierce fighter for our rights.

    They have gone so far beyond anything grassroots or productive. I am sure that in their hearts they mean well, but the world they have wrapped themselves in stops them from doing that. Money, power, trips to the White House, these things get under your skin.

    I lost faith in the HRC years ago and haven’t supported them since. Dan Choi is 100% right to speak out for himself and his fellow service members. And 100% right to give the proverbial middle finger to those who tell him he shouldn’t.

  • hephaestion

    Dan Choi is a huge hero to 100% of my friends, gay and straight.

  • jeffree

    Let me say THANK YOU to the above commenters for such thoughtful posts. Dan Choi may misstep, but he is still fighting. Big Gay Inc. just poses for photos, writes press releases, and keeps to the status quo.

    Kudos to Queeerty for getting the photo right! i was quite afraid they might stick in a pic of Connie Chung by mistake.
    [We POCs all look alike to them, doncha know :-D ]!!

  • Chris

    One of the problems might be that there are no riots such as the Stonewall Riots which are happening today. The Stonewall Riots were not “non-violent civil disobedience” as virtually every LGBT group calls for today. They were a violent, “we’ve had enough”, we’re going to chase you through the streets kind of action. That’s why they made a difference. Virtually nothing happening today compares to that. It’s time for people to wake up and understand that maybe it takes a dramatic, aggressive action to shake things up. Nothing else seems to be working. I applaud Dan Choi for his acts of disobedience, but make no mistake about it, they aren’t in any way violent or riotous.

  • Chris

    I understand the risks and consequences of a “violent and riotous” act, and I am just as weakened by those consequences as anyone else. But never once have I said that those kinds of actions are off the table. One of the biggest faults with LGBT groups today is that they refuse to entertain the idea of anything radical. While I weigh my options as much as any other LGBT activist, I would never say it’s a bad idea, and I hope someone has the balls to make it happen in the near future.

  • jack

    Dan Choi took a sip of the Rainbow Koolaid and spit it out. We love you Dan! You’re 1000X more real than the monied nose-up sneer-faces that make up what has become the Gay Establishment and Gay-Self-Appointed-Importants.

  • Cam

    Look, this is just my opinion, whether anybody agrees or not, but what I noticed is…

    1. GAY INC., and our “Friends” in govt. were saying that there would be no movement on Gay Rights this year. Choi drew attention and embarrassed them. He gave a fledgling “Get Equal” somebody well known to the news media that they could rally around at the time to get their organization more attention (Even though they seem to have backed away).

    Suddenly, Pelosi was paying attention and although the DADT repeal isn’t a perfectly worded bill, Congress was forced into action and the White House had no choice but to grudgingly go along. If Choi never does anything else for gay rights, he was a large part of forcing movement on our rights this year when people like Joe Solemnase and Barney Frank were angrily telling us to sit down and shut up.

  • Kary

    Dan Choi is a gay hero. As a gay Vietnam Vet and the former partner of US Army Colonel Ken Wittenberg (deceased), I am sincerely grateful to Lt. Choi for his courage and his uncompromising patriotism. His detractors want political robots. Fuck ’em. Dan is authentic and heroic. He deserves all our support.

  • Paid To Protest

    It’s not that we dislike Dan Choi, we just find him to be an unintelligent waste of time. He embarrasses me.

  • Cassandra

    “It’s not that we dislike Dan Choi, we just find him to be an unintelligent waste of time. He embarrasses me.”

    Only traitors and oppressors are embarrassed by heroes like Dan.

    Your empty dismissal speaks volumes about your own lack of integrity, insight, and courage. When an HRC flunky is embarrassed by Dan Choi, its a sign that he’s doing something right.

  • Justin_Activist

    Starving for attention. That’s all. I think he has a job offer from GetEqualNow if he ever leaves the military. It’s a good career move.

  • Elizabeth Parker

    Mr. Choi. Passion. Courage. Dedication. I salute.

  • James

    Dan Choi isn’t a hero. He hasn’t done anything except act childishly. Heroes don’t command attention, they gain it along with respect.

  • Career

    You have asked gay military to explain their problems with Choi. So here goes.

    Dan Choi’s fame is a function of the tendency of civilian gay activists to be completely unfamiliar with the military. It’s understandable, but given the issue at hand it’s a problem because it blinds people from seeing the problems with him as a spokesman.

    There are two issues. One is his military background, and the other is his behavior as an activist. I will take them one by one. I don’t expect people here to appreciate what I write, but I hope you’ll at least read it all the way through. Before I go into the litany, let me say: I am a gay service veteran who deeply opposes DADT, and who values activism, including the inconvenient kind. But there are limits for me, and I am not alone.

    ISSUE 1: His military background. Choi spent four years at West Point, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 2003. That’s also called “O-1.” Standard operating procedure in the Army has been to promote 2LTs to 1LT (“O-2”), then CAPT (“0-3”), all within four years. However, since the wars started, there has developed a shortage of junior officers, especially in the Army, and therefore the track was shortened to 3-1/2 years.

    It has always been virtually automatic to move to 0-3. The promotion rate is 95+%. Historically, they begin weeding out the officers at MAJ (“O-4”) and above. That has also changed. Now, the promotion rate through O-4 is 95+%, up from 80%. To block someone’s promotion, the requisite people have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, especially now. It is much easier to promote than to block.

    Choi spent five years on active duty, and never made it to O-3. It is hard to overstate how unusual this is. Even in peacetime it would be strange. But right now, and with Choi having served in a combat zone, it’s very, very, very unusual. A mere suspicion that he is gay wouldn’t be enough to block; that kind of thing would usually begin to maybe kick in at 0-4, but these days maybe at O-5. Not between O-2 and O-3.

    When Choi didn’t make CAPT (“O-3”), he left active duty and joined the New York National Guard. He stayed there for a year. It was after a total of 10 years with the Army, including four at the Point, five active, and one reserve, that he came out on national TV, having previously risen only one step in rank.

    He was immediately embraced by all the activists, because he has a military look and is good on TV. But to other military people, a 2LT after that amount of time in the military, especially coming from the academy, says something very different: “Problem child.” I obviously don’t have his DD-214 so I can’t even speculate what his problem(s) were, but you can bet there were problems and that they probably had nothing to do with being gay.

    ISSUE 2: His behavior. The civilian activists loved the White House action. The military people, especially gay ones, cringed. At the time, Choi’s legal status was unclear, so I can’t comment on the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) regs about protesting in uniform. So I take a wider view. Even if he wasn’t subject to UCMJ, his claim to fame was based on his public identity as LIEUTENANT Dan Choi. I expected him to act like it.

    A military officer is forbidden from political protests in uniform. Back when the Republicans were using active uniformed military as props, the word went out not to do that, and it ended. The military is supposed to stay out of politics at the surface level. Everyone knows it, and as a military SYMBOL, so did Choi. Yet he chose to appear at a protest in uniform, and then have himself chained to the commander-in-chief’s fence.

    I am fully aware that many civilian activists cheered this, but within the military he is viewed as a grandstanding, loose cannon, fool. Gay military people who I know get pretty pissed off when they see Choi on TV and wonder who the fuck picked THAT dipstick to represent us.

    So there you go. Like I say, you’re not going to like it. Disagree with me, it’s part of the game. But don’t tell me that I favor DADT, because I don’t. All I am telling you is that “Lt. Dan Choi” is the wrong horse in the fight. He gets damn near ZERO respect within the ranks of gay service members. There are plenty of honorable service gay veterans out there. Why the hell that problem child?

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