Dan Choi Newsweek Excerpt on DADT

An excerpt from Dan Choi’s remarks in this week’s Newsweek:

When you walked into the courtroom after your night in jail, you were in uniform, handcuffed with a chain around your waist. You are a West Point graduate and Army lieutenant, how did you reach this point?
Being in chains, for me, matched what was in my heart the whole time I was serving and was closeted. Harriet Tubman once said she had freed 1,000 slaves but could have freed so many more if they only knew that they were slaves. People don’t always know that they are in fetters. Even my feet were shackled so I could only take small steps forward. To me that symbolizes what it is to live under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the only law that enforces shame. Those chains symbolized how my country is trying to restrict my movement, how we are only allowed incremental, tiny steps.

Critics of last week’s civil disobedience at the White House and Nancy Pelosi’s office say this is not the time for actions like this. They argue that the gay-equality movement is so close to progress, why risk it all now?
Why not now? Within the gay community so many leaders want acceptance from polite society. I think there’s been a betrayal of what is down inside of us in order to achieve what looks popular, what look enviable. The movement seems to be centered around how to become an elite. There is a deep schism [in the gay-rights movement], everyone knows this. But this shouldn’t be about which group has better branding. There is a tremor right now in every gay and transgender youth that these groups are not grasping. I would say to them—you do not represent us if all you are looking for is a ladder in to elite society.


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