DADT Superstar Dan Choi Breaks Down as DADT Repeal Bill Runs Its Final Lap

A few weeks ago we talked about the Village Voice’s profile of Dan Choi as an activist burning the candle at every possible end; now we’re reading their update, where they report that Choi has recently “for lack of a better term, “lost it” and is taking time off while he seeks professional help through the Veterans Administration.

This is sad news, and we are sad about it. There is not much more to say than that. Choi is someone we’ve been following for a long time, and someone who’s stood up to be a leader at a time when the gay community has been let down by every other leadership figure. He isn’t perfect – he’s criticized for being overly harsh, his approaches have become increasingly uncompromising, and some have accused him of misogyny. But we’re not perfect either, and we’re angry and confused and he expresses our anger and confusion in a really honest way, and we want things to be good for him.

We want things to be good for all of us, and that can’t happen if the people fighting for us are worn down and pushed to the point of ‘losing it’ by the thing they are fighting. It’s ironic that Choi credits his breakdown to his time spent serving our country – the thing he is legally prohibited from doing, and has been working so hard to continue doing. Here’s his statement, as related to Pam and Autumn of Pam’s House Blend:

I did not initially want to publicize this but I now realize it is critical for our community to know several things: veterans gay or straight carry human burdens, Activists share similar burdens, no activist should be portrayed as super human, and the failures of government and national lobbying carry consequences far beyond the careers and reputations of corporate leaders, elected officials, High powered lobbyists, or political elites. They ruin lives. My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt on Thursday, by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes have added to the result. I am certain my experience is not an isolated incident within the gay veteran community.

It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that Choi’s announcement is coinciding with the final chance for  a DADT repeal in the Senate this year; a vote on Lieberman’s stand-alone bill will take place at some point today.

The chances of ending the military’s ban on open service by gay and lesbian soldiers improved significantly on Tuesday when House Democratic leaders said they would introduce a fast-track repeal bill and quickly send it on to the Senate. Once the House bill is approved, the onus will be on Senate leaders to act swiftly, and on a handful of moderate Republicans to fulfill their promise to bring long-denied justice to the military’s ranks.

Choi hasn’t tweeted for the past five days, even though this is the most real news on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell we’ve had all year. His last tweet, though, seems particularly appropriate to the situation at hand. We wish him good luck and good health.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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8 Comments

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    re: that New York Times article. You have to sign up to read it, but it’s free. Here’s some of it:

    The House bill — which would authorize the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” as soon as the administration certifies that the military is ready — could come to the floor as early as Wednesday. It has widespread support and will contain a message making it “privileged” when it reaches the Senate. That means it will have to hurdle only one 60-vote barrier before final passage.

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    You know, I remember a time when passing a bill only required 51 votes.

    I also remember a time when Obama promised DADT would end under his watch. Now he’s going to need a time machine to keep that promise.

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    I am happy he is getting help. I know a lot of service members and the fact that he is getting help is a huge step. I mean, it’s a hard enough decision to do it as a regular person and military people are soooo much less likely to seek help.

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    This kills me.
    I have been a huge admirer of Lt. Choi for the past year or so now. While I cannot say I know or even imagine what it is like to be in his shoes at all, I have felt the pain, loss, and alienation more than once when you put yourself out there to be vulneralble and fight for what’s real and what’s right.
    Who doesn’t look at DADT and see a total clusterfuck? Where most of the American population support an appeal, where most of the military doesn’t see an issue, and fuck, natch – where most of the conservatives in this country no longer believe there is a benefit?
    And yet you have one angry old man, bitter at what he has failed at or never allowed to achieve, leading the charge to stifle the potential of so many young people, simply because his own party cannibalized his soul long ago.
    And yet, Choi and real human being suffer. Really suffer – in order to impress a very cluelessly elite few who are nothing more than egomaniacs and control freaks.

    Yeah, that shit will make you go mad.

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