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Watch: Lt. Dan Choi Speaks Truth and Consequences at Harvard

Lt. Dan Choi spoke last night at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in a program called Truth and Consequences: One Man's Quest to Openly Serve His Country".

Watch it, in four parts (left to right, top to bottom), below.

Choi was introduced by Charlie Clements, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Watch the intro, AFTER THE JUMP...

Clips via The New Civil Rights Movement.

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Comments

  1. You want a Harvey Milk? I'd give you instead a Dan Choi who is just as articulate, just as proud, just as deserving of our admiration... perhaps even more so.

    Posted by: Jubal | Apr 30, 2010 11:22:03 AM


  2. Andy,

    Choi's is an important message, to be sure.

    And, as it happens - we don't always get to choose our messengers or our agents of change. But this four-part ego parade you have accommodated here on your site makes it clear that we must not only train the messengers we do have (Choi's penchants for rambling off topic into the religion of his parents - and doing so with such dramatic 'flair' - is excruciating) but to rehearse and fact-check them. And, it might be a good idea to have them avoid comparing themselves to Christ and MLK jr.

    Of course, the reasons why Lt Dan Choi is still a lieutenant - long after his peers were promoted to Captain and before the DADT issues even started - are irrelevant to his message. But it is something that we - as a community of similarly minded people who believe in the idea of what he is doing (though certainly not his shrill, explicative-filed, dramatic, rambling public speeches) - should be willing to help him with.

    As a currently serving, Regular Army officer with quite a bit more career under my belt than him to worry about, when I hear Choi speak, I'm proud that he is using one of the Army's core values of speaking out against injustice to advance this cause. But I am more than a little bit ashamed that it's being done so by a part-time Soldier (he is, after all, a National Guard lieutenant) who has such a lengthy, pre-existing record of professional ineptitude.

    Indeed, we do not always get to choose our agents of change - our messengers. But we should at least be able to influence their delivery. What we witness when Choi speaks is the Dan Choi Show, laid bare.

    To be clear - now is not the time for business as usual and taking our marching orders from Rahm, the HRC, or anyone else doing things as they've always been done, for that matter. And for that, I applaud Choi. He's certainly helped keep the issue in the national spotlight. But without his ability to reign himself in when appropriate or to at least apply some self editing, Choi will always be seen not as MLK or Christ or any other radical agent of change, but as the shrill attention seeker who almost always populate the circles of those who are truly great.

    Posted by: Todd | Apr 30, 2010 12:05:58 PM


  3. Pretty amazing. An excellent attack on the way homophobia is rife in our society and causes so many ills.

    Most affecting for me was the moment when he pointed out that the US Gov't gives the name of the widow/er as "faggot". Shivers.

    Posted by: David R. | Apr 30, 2010 12:21:29 PM


  4. Such an awesome speech! Up until this moment I had no idea how articulate, personable and emotionally invested he was. You can doubt the sincerity of anyone with a camera pointed at them but to share personal stories, your devotion to faith, and show how it relates not only to other civil rights movements but the livelihood of a people who you are tasked to bring democracy to is more than sufficient for just a simple attention seeker. I am so glad he addresses those, even within the gay community, who would dismay him from doing all that he can peacefully do in order to one day see change.

    As a member of the military myself I envy his ability to be loud and verbal about DADT. I believe his boldness is not out of any type of vanity but the simple idea that he will do all he can do to see change within his lifetime and more importantly the lifetime of men and woman who will soon lose their lives for a nation that does not recognize or respect them equally.

    Posted by: Toto | Apr 30, 2010 1:40:16 PM


  5. Todd- I think you are being way to judemental and you sound the tiniest bit bitter about this. And you know what, I bet that some people said the same things about MLK in his day. I am not saying Choi is like Dr. King but he is a leader and I think he fighting the good fight for us that many would not. Is he a bit showy? Yes, but I don't see that as a problem.

    Posted by: Rann | Apr 30, 2010 1:45:18 PM


  6. Todd, "shrill attention seeker" is an incredibly short-sighted and demeaning characterization of the brave lieutenant. Why were you not the one standing on that dais? Hm? Do regale us with the speech you would have given if you had half the cojones he does. And please read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" before you hasten to impugn your superiors in matters moral, tactical and courageous.

    Posted by: Miriam | Apr 30, 2010 1:51:23 PM


  7. So, "Regular Army Officer" Todd, the bottomline: you're too much of a coward to come out yourself, but presume to pontificate from the safety and shadows of your closet about someone who has had that courage.

    Generally, I never criticize anyone in the miitary who hasn't come out for whatever their own personal reasons might be, but you have crossed the line.

    I'm proud to say that Dan and I are friends, but I am not simply defending him from the standpoint of a loyal friend but as someone who's in a position to know a little bit more about him than you from the pinhole perspective of your closet door keyhole.

    "Ego parade"..."The Dan Choi Show"...How trite and facile. Having been involved in the Movement for nearly four decades, I can assure Towleroadies that such charges, "media whore," ad nauseum, have been hurled by someone at every LGBT activist at one point or another...including Harvey Milk.

    Dan did not risk his relationship with his family, his NG salary, his personal privacy and peace [THIS will probably be the only "hate mail" YOU get today, "Officer" Todd] for ego. And, even if he had, it is not anyone's motivations by which they are to be judged but their results and Dan has almost single-handedly kept the fight for DADT repeal from being smothered to death by the betrayals of the ObamaRahm administration.

    But you aren't content with demonizing his motives. You stoop to libel....for which, in your cowardly anonymity you can't be held accountable for...in accusing him of "a lengthy, pre-existing record of professional ineptitude."

    You either are a sly ObamaRahmbot civilian wrapping his attempt to destroy the Obama Nostra's most high profile critic within fake criticisms of your own or you have just disgraced the "Army core values" you allegedly believe in so much.

    In either case: fuck off and die, Coward.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Apr 30, 2010 1:51:56 PM


  8. I'm not defending "todd" (because I don't know him) but after watching the first episode of Dan's speech, I gotta say I wasn't impressed. I APPLAUD the "idea" of Dan Choi, but the reality is kinda meh. If you noticed he also didn't get any appause during his speech, and it was clear he was hoping he would.

    The speech did ramble, I'm sorry, but it did. It was all over the place.

    Again, nice attempt, but Dan is not ready for prime time and certainly not Harvard.

    Posted by: Marty | Apr 30, 2010 2:31:07 PM


  9. This anti-Obama slanted eye beds to STFU.

    Posted by: Steven | Apr 30, 2010 10:02:00 PM


  10. Todd is absolutely correct. If anything, he's milder than I'd be. Choi is a fraud from the get-go. His ongoing prominence, such as it is, serves to illustrate how little his backers know or care about the military they seek to integrate, and how ready many gay people are to embrace celebrities and bandwagons.

    The standard promotion track for an Army officer is four years from LT to CAPT, but because of the wartime shortage of junior officers it was cut to a max of three and a half years. Choi, a West Point graduate, served five years on active duty without being promoted to CAPT.

    Promotion to CAPT has always been virtually automatic, i.e., over 95%. Today, it's virtually automatic through MAJ because of the officer shortage. A suspicion that someone is gay isn't enough to block promotion these days. Choi didn't actually declare his sexual orientation until his sixth year in uniform, the final year being attached to the New York National Guard.

    This brings up the other myth about Choi, which is that he somehow made "sacrifices" because he was gay. That didn't happen. Choi waited until his Army career had failed to "bravely" come out of the closet. We don't know why his career failed, because Choi hasn't produced his personnel file. But it's extremely unlikely that it was because he was gay. Some other seriously problem did him in. What that problem was is anyone's guess, but it kept him from an automatic promotion to CAPT.

    Finally, there is his protest at the White House while in uniform, including chaining himself to the fence surrounding his commander-in-chief's home. In protesting that way, Choi broke half a dozen explicit military regulations and showed himself permanently unfit for duty as an officer of soldiers. He is a deficient military member, and no example to rally around.

    In his public statements, Choi has become increasingly shrill and egotistical, and at times even delusional, with his continual comparisons of himself to Jesus Christ. He's an embarrassment, and gay activists should be looking toward the dozens of other, far more qualified spokespeople to lead the cause.

    Posted by: Career | May 1, 2010 5:06:05 AM


  11. @CAREER: I know Dan. He is just a guy who has had enough. He did everything a good Korean American boy was supposed to do and then some. I don't even know you and I would be willing to bet he's done far more than you have in any subject you would dare to compete against him. He is a quiet man, except when he is railing against injustice, at which point, he turns into a Lion.

    I would be willing to bet that Dan would rather have been just another Guy, yet, he refuses to be treated as a second class citizen and is willing to suffer for that.

    Dan Choi isn't the person you want him to be. He's not a fame whore.

    Dan is just a guy doing his part to make things right.

    And you?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | May 1, 2010 6:18:10 AM


  12. @Derek, you can keep spewing ad hominem attacks at me if you want, but that really only strengthens my point: that Choi's prominence is an artifact of an unthinking fan base that's not seeing a millimeter past the surface of the guy, and doesn't want to.

    Dan Choi may well be the nicest guy on the planet. That's neither here nor there. The real issue is whether or not he's the right spokesman on DADT repeal. I don't think so. Choi is a failed officer. He's not the guy to hitch the wagon to, especially when there are so many other qualified people out there.

    Posted by: Career | May 1, 2010 1:27:50 PM


  13. Nobody who adopts the derogatory terms "queer" and "gender queer" can be a credible spokesperson for LesBiGay servicepeople! I'm stunned that Dan Choi has chosen to do this. Has he lost his f*cking mind? Does he really believe that kind of mindless radicalspeak will help his cause? If so, he hasn't got half the intelligence I originally gave him credit for. A few weeks ago, this man was my hero. He is my hero no longer. Just another posturing, trash-talking "professional activist" type that we already have too many of, that's what he is.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | May 1, 2010 2:03:27 PM


  14. Yeah...while I don't have any particular grudge against dan choi (use whatever you can get), anyone who uses the term genderqueer or queer in serious conversation immediately loses respect from me. It's silly (immature, actually--enamoured of labels and pc terms) and unspecific; not because it's in any way "offensive" to me...though it is. It's impractical, too. Most people in this country wouldn't have much to say to someone who uses genderqueer in serious conversation...and this is a numbers game. So while we certainly could do better than dan choi for a spokesperson on dadt, it doesn't hurt that he's out there pushing for repeal. At least it's someone who serves.

    Posted by: TANK | May 1, 2010 2:20:15 PM


  15. @Stuffed Animal, I came to that realization with the stunt at the WH where he chained himself to the fence. It's not something anyone who wanted to serve as a military officer would do. When that happened, I decided to take a closer look at Lt. Choi, his record, and his approach.

    This is not the right horse to ride. The irony here is that there are plenty of gay military members who have testified on Capitol Hill who'd make much better spokespeople for our cause. It baffles me that Choi gets the spotlight when he's clearly unqualified for the role.

    Posted by: Career | May 1, 2010 3:01:29 PM


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