10.29.2010

the bad lieutenant


Check out Lieutenant Dan Choi, Iraq combat veteran and outspoken -- and probably the most visible -- activist against the U.S. military's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, on the cover of the Village Voice: Bad Lieutenant, Dan Choi.

Choi is unapologetic. He says he resents it when anyone, especially those in the gay-rights movement, discourages him from exploring - well, sexually - his newly revealed homosexuality.

"I think our movement hits on so many nerves," he says, "not just for reasons of anti-discrimination and all the platitudes of the civil rights movement. I believe that it's also because it has elements of sexual liberation. And it shows people that through what we're trying to do, they can be fully respectful of themselves, without accepting the shame society wants to throw upon them."

"Sexual liberation" - that probably won't play well on Capitol Hill. And therein lies the conflict between Choi and the establishment. His bold public actions - from chaining himself to the White House fence (twice) to going on a hunger strike for seven days - as well as his almost complete lack of inhibition about making his private behavior public, unnerve the old guard of both the military and the gay-rights movement.

Everyone, he says, is "happy to send out e-mails when a good court case comes out, but no one is willing to take a risk for fear of taking blame. If people want to blame me for being the reason 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' isn't repealed, I say fine. Bring it on, motherfuckers."
He's made some allies. He's made more than a few enemies. He's been labeled everything from hero to zealot to just plain jerk. And I can guarantee calling a U.S. senator a "pussy" who bleeds "once a month" isn't going to draw a lot of support to his cause.

But what the article makes makes pretty clear is that Lt. Dan Choi doesn't care who he offends or whose toes he steps on, both in the military and the gay rights movement, established or otherwise, if they're getting in the way of direct action towards repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.