Best Coming Out Orange County 2009 - Lieutenant Dan Choi
On March 22, Tustin native and Army National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi went on the Rachel Maddow Show and said these words: "I am gay." On April 23, he received a letter: "This is to inform you that sufficient basis exists to initiate action for withdrawal of Federal Recognition in the Army National Guard for moral or professional dereliction. . . . Specifically, you admitted publicly that you are a homosexual." But by the time a military board officially recommended him for discharge on May 29, Choi had appeared on CNN, been written up in the Los Angeles Times and appeared at a rally in Orange County. He founded Knights Out, a support group for gay West Point graduates and wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading to keep his job. After 10 years of service, including multiple tours as an Arabic translator in Iraq, Choi was kicked out of the armed forces—but that just meant he entered another battle, the one for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. And unlike peace in the Middle East, Choi's goal appears attainable if for no other reason than that he is using the right weapons to fight for it: publicity and passion.