Lt. Dan Choi at Gay Pride 2010 (Photo courtesy of Boss Tweed on Flickr)
Lt. Dan Choi at Gay Pride 2010 (Photo courtesy of Boss Tweed on Flickr)

BY DEANDRE MCDAY, Staff Writer

Iraqi veteran Lieutenant Dan Choi will visit the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Thursday for a discussion at 6 p.m. in the Borg-Warner auditorium, located in the Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems building.

After being honorably discharged in 2009 for announcing he was gay on a television talk show, Choi went on to be a powerful advocate for LGBT civil rights and veteran health issues. Choi played a crucial role in the repealing of the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the official government policy that forced gay military personnel to hide their sexual orientation or leave.

Such treatment put Choi in a rather compromising situation. According to his website, Choi recited the “Cadet Prayer” every night at West Point Military Academy, a prayer that taught him to always “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when a whole can be won.”

Meditating on such ideals, Choi found that legislation like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in direct violation of the moral principles he’d been taught and he vowed never to lie about his true identity.
In March 2009, via live TV, he told America that he was gay. By June that same year, he was standing trial for it.

Fed up with political excuses, he and fellow gay veteran Captain Jim Pietrangelo marched to the White House in spring 2010 and chained themselves to the fence in fierce opposition of how gays were being treated. He and his comrade went on to face a night in jail. His words to the judge who tried him: “Not guilty, not ashamed, not finished.”

The scheduled discussion will comprise of his experiences in his battle against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ongoing struggles at the crossroads of the gay and military communities, and his continuing fight to be reenlisted.

More about Lt. Dan Choi’s story can be found at his website.