Lt Choi ‘evades’ question of political office
Activist and Army National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi did not quite say no last week when asked if he was interested in a future political career.
Choi burst on the scene last March, helping to organize a group of gay West Point graduates and emerging as a leading spokesman for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He’s still serving in the Guard as his discharge under the ban proceeds, and in the meantime has been arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence. Twice.
At Equality Forum in Philadelphia on Saturday, OutQ asked Choi if he’d given any thought to a future in politics. He responded that he’s already in politics, pursuing the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ So we pressed further.
OutQ: But are you interested in running for office?
Choi: The fact that I’m evading your question (laughs) should tell you that I’d be able to if I wanted, but I don’t for obvious purposes right now. I am fully employed, in my time at least, by the equality movement.
Choi said a good resume, or a title like congressman or senator aren’t required to participate in politics and have an impact. “All that’s required,” Choi said, “is for you to stand up and reclaim your dignity.”
OutQ: You obviously are a strong, proud, hard-working gay activist now, in addition to your other duties–
Choi: I notice you didn’t say professional, because sometimes I’m unprofessional.
Q: No need to parse my words. You’ll see where the question is headed, because it actually is headed in a professional direction.
Q: You think about politics a lot, you’re incredibly well-spoken, you have full command of rhetoric. Have you given any thought to a future in politics?
A: I’m already in politics. Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, your silence or your inaction is a political statement. For anybody to say that it’s based on a title (political action), that it’s based on an office, that it’s based on (in other organizations) a rank, or maybe even a status that denotes a some kind of membership in some kind of elite rung of the ladder — that’s not what’s required to have an impact.
Q: But are you interested in running for office?
A: The fact that I’m evading your question (laughs) should tell you that I’d be able to if I wanted, but I don’t for obvious purposes right now. I am fully employed, in my time at least, by the equality movement. And I want to point out that it doesn’t require someone to be called representative or senator or councilmember, what have you. I think every single one of us has a moral responsibility to step up. And through that, I also want to point out, resume and particular titles of our past, although some people might say that’s required — you might even be assuming that because I have a certain resume and certain degrees from certain schools — that that would make a good candidate, of sorts.
If you thought about why we’re seeing a new kind of activisim, if you think about the posibilities and the restrictions that the current movement is placing on people, assuming that you have to have a certain resume, I respond by just taking a look at my past two years. Would you have thought two years ago, my being an Army officer, closeted, Southern Baptist family, Korean-American, that I would be the voice for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ or that I would be a gay activist? The fact of the matter is, there is no perfect resume for anybody to participate. All that is required for you is for you to stand up and reclaim your dignity.