LGBT rights activist and gay Iraqi War veteran Lt. Dan Choi visits UM-Dearborn’s campus April 5 for a lecture titled “Equality, Honor and Overturning ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'” in the University’s BorgWarner Auditorium.
Lt. Choi graduated from the United States Academy at West Point with degrees in Arabic and environmental engineering in 2003. After serving in Iraq for two years, Choi served with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry in Manhattan. In May 2009, Lt. Choi publicly came out on The Rachel Maddow Show and, despite the U.S. military’s need for Arabic speaking officers, was promptly notified that proceedings to discharge him from the military had begun under the United States’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Since then, Lt. Choi has become thoroughly involved in LGBT rights activism. On March 19, 2010 he handcuffed himself to the White House fence with gay veteran Capt. James Pietrangelo II. The two were arrested and released the next morning. On April 20, the two veterans repeated their protest, this time joined by four other veterans including transgender navy veteran Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen.
After his fourth arrest for protesting, Lt. Choi was invited to attend the bill signing that repealed DADT.
University of Michigan – Dearborn’s Student Activities Office has worked extensively to organize the event are excited to bring his message to Dearborn’s diverse campus.
“I had the privilege of seeing Lt. Choi speak at a conference a year ago, and I can still recall his words about choosing to live as his true self even at great sacrifice” explains Director of Student Activities, Kris Day. “After seeing him, I knew that UMD’s Student Activities Office needed to bring Lt. Choi’s powerful message to our campus community.”
Lt. Choi will discuss the repeal of DADT, the battles still facing many LGBT individuals in the United States military and what it means to live every day with integrity and honor.
“To be so valuable to the armed forces – as a West Point graduate and an Arabic translator – yet discharged so easily for speaking the truth is upsetting,” says Day “It speaks to the inequality that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ promoted.”
“I think it’s wonderful that the SAO is taking the lead and bringing Dan Choi to the university,” says UM-Dearborn LGBTQ Coordinator Rick Robinson. “Lt. Choi’s message is still very relevant, as thousands of military service individuals removed from their positions have yet to be let back into the military. That’s truly the next battle, and I am sure Lt. Choi will address that.”
Lt. Dan Choi visits UM-Dearborn 6 p.m. April 5 at the BorgWarner Auditorium located in the campus’ Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems Building. This event is free, open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the IAVS building lobby. For more information, e-mail UM-Dearborn’s Student Activities Office at [email protected] or call 313-593-5390.