Gay Activist Dan Choi Hospitalized for Breakdown


On Dec. 9, after the Senate blocked the repeal of DADT, Choi tweeted, "Today is a very painful day. I simply advise you to never stop fighting." The bill to repeal has now passed the House and will soon be debated in the Senate. LGBT supporters say they are optimistic about its passage.

On Wednesday, the House voted 250-175 to repeal the 17-year-old policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has threatened to keep the upper chamber in session through the holiday recess in order to make sure that a vote on that measure takes place.

In March, the provocative and omnipresent Choi chained himself to the White House fence and was arrested with former Army Captain James Pietrangelo to protest DADT. He spent the night in prison.

A West Point graduate and Iraq veteran and Arabic speaker, Choi served for a decade in the Army. But in 2009 in violation of DADT, he announced on "The Rachel Maddow Show," "I am gay," and one month later the Army began discharge proceedings.

Choi is a founding member of Knights Out, a group of LGBT graduates of West Point and their "allies."

Its executive director, Sue Fulton, said, "Dan is both a hero and a human being. He has exhausted himself in the pursuit of justice."

Supporters Send E-Mails to Dan Choi

Fulton stressed that she was not a "spokesman" for Choi, who has not talked to the press directly since his hospitalization.

'I don't think anyone can imagine what this guy went through coming back from Iraq," said Fulton.

Since leaving the military, Choi had no permanent home and had been staying with other activists around the country. Choi, an Orange County, Calif., native, was in Massachusetts when he had the breakdown.

Choi also broke up with his partner earlier this year, according to Fulton.

"He came out as an activist and chose to pursue this path," she said. "But despite what haters would say, I knew Dan before this. He never expected or sought celebrity. It was unintentionally thrust upon him. I don't know anyone who could stand up to that pressure."

Fulton, who graduated in 1980 from West Point in the first class that admitted women, said the stress is particularly tough in the LGBT community. One of her classmates suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome under the duress of keeping her sexuality under wraps.

"All people in this community of sexual minorities are the target of hate or discrimination or rejection by families and friends," she said.

She served in the Army's signal corps until 1986, lying when asked "point blank" in an investigation of a fellow soldier if she were a lesbian.

"I have carried that guilt and shame for over two decades," she said. "That, compared to the kind of harassment that happens to many in our community, especially gay male solders, pales in comparison. So I know how deep the shame is."

In the meantime, Choi has been barraged with "thousands" of e-mails and phone calls, according to Fulton, but has ignored them.

"He's taking care of himself," she said. "He's doing the right thing by staying unplugged."

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