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Monday, March 22, 2010

Dan Choi: Not Guilty, Not Ashamed, Not Finished

From Newsweek's interview with Dan Choi on his arrest with Capt. Jim Pietrangelo after handcuffing themselves to the White House gates last week:
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 into elite society.

When I get messages from people who want to be a part of this I ask back: what are you willing to sacrifice? We are tired of being stereotyped as privileged, bourgeois elites. Is someone willing to give up their career, their relationships with powerful people, their Rolodex, or their parents' love to stand up for who they are? I'm giving up my military rank, my unit—which to me is a family—my veterans' benefits, my health care, so what are you willing to sacrifice?

They say freedom is not free, but it doesn't have to cost anything either. Jesus up on the cross did not have a party with all his major donors to raise money for his cause, his cross was free. Ghandi did not need three-course dinners and a cocktail party to get his message out. These are people who sacrificed their lives. For them it was hemlock, a cross, the bullet that shot Harvey Milk . . . it was not the size of their distribution list, but their message that endured. . . .

When I was handcuffed to the gate someone else asked me what's next. I'm standing there with hands lifted skyward and I just told him, "This is." I have fully committed my life and all the sacrifices necessary to manifest equality and America's promises. Like I said at court, "I'm not guilty, I'm not ashamed, and I'm not finished."
A trial date is set for April 26.  They will also likely face courts-martial by the military.  Below, the two men after being released on bail last Saturday at the D. C. Courthouse:


Jeepguy said...

My hat is off to these guys for their courage. I loved Dan's unapologetic statement that he was not finished. Thanks, Dan & Jim.

If we are to live openly and honestly, I think each of us faces similar demons in our own way and time, and probably not without risking some degree of sacrifice.

And thanks, Russ, for posting this.

FDeF said...

How absolutely eloquent. Those words should embarrass the hell out of Joe Solmonese and others in the "LGBT establishment".

Money has become the new absolution - give and absolve your guilt for not being out there. These guys are definitely out there in the tradition of Gay Liberation and Act Up and other grass-roots protests. They deserve the all the support we can give them, and lots more from the LGBT establishment.

Russ Manley said...

I was moved by Dan's words too, guys, and his actions. He and Jim have laid it all on the line; probably zero hope now for their military careers.

They have taken a real risk with real consequences; not something a lot of people do. That's true courage.

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