Bil Browning

Day 7: Dan Choi's DADT hunger strike

Filed By Bil Browning | June 02, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Dan Choi, dignity fast, Don't Ask Don't Tell, GetEqual, hunger strike

Army Reserve Lt Dan Choi's hunger strike is on Day 7 today. Choi recently filmed this video update for the new DignityFast YouTube channel to document his health on Day 4.

The rumor mill has it that GetEqual activists demanded that Choi do his hunger strike outside of the org's umbrella and are none too pleased with his latest publicity stunt. Queerty reports that those helping him with the stunt have lawyered up in an attempt to avoid responsibility if something goes wrong.

With Choi already slowing down noticeably, how long do you think he'll last? The demands he's issued - ending DADT immediately and implementing a non-discrimination policy without waiting for the military study - simply won't happen. How long did it take to get Obama to pay attention to the BP oil spill? Choi could be in for a long - and hungry - wait...

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

I am saddened by your tone. "Stunt" this is not.

There seems to be a mainstream propaganda line now in the LGBT community to paint Dan Choi as an attention seekeing git. That, my dear Sir, he is not. There are few harder protests to undertake than a hunger strike.

Lt Choi is being honest and genuine to his principles. We DESERVE and are ENTITLED TO EQUALITY. We are not gettign it because it has been sacrificed to political expediency. Lt Choi at least has the decency to recognise that a right delayed is a right denied.

Lt Choi is suffering and weakening to protest our lack of equality, which we have alas and alack, swallowed once again with the spoonful pablum from the Obama White House with an indistinct "someday" promise of perhaps, maybe, some DADT change of some sort, watered down to accomodate the kind of yahoos that will oppose us to the very end.

Don't sell him out or abandon him. he is honest and true to his beliefs

There seems to be a mainstream propaganda line now in the LGBT community to paint Dan Choi as an attention seekeing git.

He's a middle-class, college educated man with a much more than decent income. His politics are somewhere between liberal and conservative, but nowhere near radical. He's very much pro-establishment, even though he's had his tiffs with HRC (who hasn't).

Choi is the mainstream.

Michael @ | June 2, 2010 2:26 PM

Well, that settles it, then! Dan, having failed Alex's Holier Than Thou Litmus Test...we only have one choice: murder him, put his head on a pike in the public square, and chop up the rest of him to feed the hungry.

Of course Dan Choi is an attention-seeker! What do you think all the protests and hunger strike were about if not to garner attention?

The question is not IF he's seeking attention, but WHY. Choi's motives are pure, of this I have no question. His goals are admirable and righteous. He uses his notoriety to attract attention to his cause. Personally, I see nothing wrong with that. We do that too.

The main difference is that he gets all the media attention drawn to the .001 of our community that serves in the military, while the other 99.999 percent of American LGBT's, the LGBT civilian workforce, is completely ignored.

Choi's media rock star status sucks all the air out of the room for a tiny fraction of the American LGBT workforce, leaving nothing for the rest of us. I am not for a moment trying to contend that he does so intentionally, but the reality is that when it comes to LGBT issues, our so-called "progressive" media ignores all else to go strictly for the big and shiny.

Choi and DADT get all the media attention, while the rest of us get thrown under the bus yet again by the Democrats, and many like myself are forced to wonder if we'll ever see true equality for ourselves in this country while we're still young enough to enjoy it.

Dan Choi's stunt has angered more than just GET EQUAL - activists. Read all of our articles on the subject at Lezgetreal

Michael @ | June 2, 2010 2:58 PM

PUH-LEEZE! The witches who run lezgetridiculous started demonizing Dan immediately after his first arrest at the White House because:

1. The site's mistress is a military brat who pissed her camo panties the moment she saw him protesting and getting arrested in, horrors of Hecuba, HIS UNIFORM. That's as bad as "desecrating the flag" to good little Germans like her who are too stupid to get that even those in the military have a right to civil DISobedience. In fact, few understand and therefore don't appreciate the fact that Dan was risking a FEDERAL PRISON sentence for choosing to wear his uniform for a more powerful visual statement during a political/illegal action.

2. They're Obamabots....and no one, repeat NO ONE dare criticize Their Lord & Savior Obama Christ.

Of course, they resort to the laziest of ad hominems: he's only doing it to get rich [I guarantee you he's not], he's an attention whore [said of everyone who's ever gotten attention in the Movement...particularly when they get it and others who think THEY deserve it don't....when he auditions for "Queer Soldier Eye for the Straight Guy" or "Real Gay Linguists of New Jersey" me], blah blah blah, when the fact is they'd be praising anyone doing the same kind of things FOR Obama and ze glory of ze Reich!

It all reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with Movement pioneer Frank Kameny whose integrity I trusted and who I knew had lived in virtual poverty his entire life of activism after having been fired by the government as a Harvard-trained astronomer. There was a new gay activist beginning to get a lot of publicity at the time, and I asked his opinion of the stories I'd heard that the man was just in it for some kind of imagined financial gain.

Frank replied, "I've heard that, too, and I don't care if it's true as long as what he does helps and doesn't hurt us."

And I've applied that standard to everyone since.

There's nothing about Dan's and Jim's fast that is hurting anyone but them. It's not as if the axis of the DADT con Obama/Gates/Mullen are going to say, "We had planned to announce an ACTUAL end to discharges but their hunger strike changed our minds and we're going to keep doing what we have that last 16 months...shitcanning the Fagroes."

After the first arrest, some who would NEVER have the guts to do the same in ANY circumstances, like Ms. lezgetridiculous, claimed that Dan's wearing his uniform would alienate many in the military...AS IF anyone who believes such fabric is more sacred that civil rights would have been on the side of ending the discharges to start with.

One straight vet who was already on that side was Cong. Patrick Murphy who said this at the time when asked: "Dan Choi is a hero."

40 days. Moses did it. Jesus did it. There are instances of shipwreck survivors going that long on water only.

In any case I admire his commitment. In fact fasting is touted in many different religions as a way to get closer to God and in many non-religious disciplines as a way to get more in touch with your inner self.

Well, his demands aren't going to be met before he dies of hunger. Has he put a limit on his hunger strike? He could do a lot more for the cause if he didn't commit suicide as a political tactic.

Not judging, but just going to say that it's weird to me that he's using a tactic more common to peace and independence movements in order to have a chance to participate in the occupation of Iraq and kill some Iraqis. It's a topsy-turvy world we live in.

Whether it is a bullet to the head or starvation, it is still suicide. We shouldn't support suicide for any reason.

Out of frustration (and anger) this is an attempt to get attention and that makes it a "stunt." None of Choi's demands can be met. Maybe if he simply made it between him and the President and said "sign an executive order to stop the discharges now or I will starve myself to death," maybe Obama would have taken the bait. Or stopped by with pizza and beer.

Choi's latest stunt is perhaps the craziest of the recent crazy-rude-childish publicity stunts and underscores the lunacy of "making demands." Demands do not create any pressure on anyone and they never change any minds.

Leaders of the LGBT Community should forcefully encourage Dan Choi to preserve his life (and ability to make a difference) by abandoning this hunger strike. Choi living is better than Choi dying or starving.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

My heart goes out to Dan Choi, a comrade in the struggle for dignity and freedom for all of us. I am worried about his health and well-being. I believe that he is engaging in this because he is desperately seeking the end of a truly cruel governmental public policy. And,I am concerned that a hunger strike without concretely reachable goals will be for naught and result in the loss of a remarkable man, a good and steady soldier, and a visionary leader. Would that President Obama and the Congress take the action Dan so wants and understands to be key to the success of full repeal of DADT and save this good man's life.

I think the hunger strike is way out of proportion for the fight against Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Risking starvation and death makes sense when lives are on the line. When there is widespread violence against a group and a sense of mortal urgency is required. The hunger striker becomes the face of the people who are at risk of death.

Hunger striking in this instance is childish.

Choi is becoming an egocentric liability to the movement.

Dan.... Step Away from the Kool-aid

Michael @ | June 2, 2010 4:18 PM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

Kathleen of Norfolk | June 2, 2010 5:04 PM

Like I was getting at during our tactics discussion a few weeks ago, these actions cost us a credible spokesperson. Choi had a good record. He had a great story. Yet, he marginalized himself through decisions to get arrested and now he has gone off on a hunger strike. On a personal level, by making demands that will not be met, he has backed himself into a corner. If he stops the hunger strike, he gives in. If he doesn't, he could endanger his life. The whole episode is sad...and few are paying attention outside of the gay community.

The fact that you believe that his arrests "cost us a credible spokesperson" just proves to me that you're an apologist for everything that's wrong with LGBT people today. Civil disobedience does not make one a celebrity, and that is not its intent.

Angela Brightfeather | June 2, 2010 6:33 PM

Read your history folks. Or at least look up a few comments I have made about true, honest and outright activism, outlining the four women suffragettes who chained themselves to the pillars of Congress and were beaten and arrested, thrown in jail and went on a hunger strike that lasted a few weeks for two of them, and the other two who died in jail.

These women were married heterosexual females with children and husbands, who disagreed with what they were doing, but they did it just the same. Two of them died so the attention of years of suffrage could be focused to the point that it had to in order to make change. They knew that there was no other way to stop the discrimination of white priveleged males in not allowing them the same right to vote and determine their futures.

Dan Choi is following in their footsteps and going through exactly the same scenario, maybe even patterning his actions from their example, by first chaining himself to the White House gate and now the hunger strike.

I have no doubt that he is doing the only thing that must be done to change people's minds, because like those women, he is not an incrementalist. He is not someone who is going to back down anymore than he would if he was in Afganistan facing the enemy trying to overrun his position.

For those who think this is stupid or showboating, tell that to the women who died in their hunger strike so that 50% of all Americans could vote and be represented.

This is not knew. This is true committment, and if Dan Choi dies in the process, he will have changed the minds of many, and like those women before, he may even change history itself as they did, because within a few weeks after their death, it was white male husbands who rose up with the suffragettes and demanded that women have the right to vote.

Dan Choi is a real life hero and anyone who says otherwise is an armchair activist who continues to spout words instead of take the action needed. To those women who doubt the results of true and dedicated activism, taken to the point where Dan Choi is taking it about DADT, take a visit to Upstate New York and visit the National Woman's Museum in Seneca Falls and read the story of these women and see the faces of these mothers, wives and women who are the reason why your great grandmothers were the first women to vote.

Dan Choi has my admiratin and respect and if I was younger, I'd be by his side supporting him.

As a footnote, those women heard the same kind of BS from their friends, families and other so called suffragettes when they undertook their actions. They ignored them then and the naysayer's words ring just as hollow today.

Thank you for being someone who actually has the wisdom to look back, for the sake of the future!

He quit.

This was the last straw in a bunch of GetEQUAL publicity stunts. It's sad Dan didn't know better. He quit because he (and the stunt) were being ignored - thankfully.

Dan Choi didn't think this through and determine the risks or benefits to the LGBT Community before he threatened suicide if his "demands" weren't met.

Sound familiar?

Kathleen of Norfolk | June 2, 2010 11:46 PM

If you want to call me an apologist, fine. You could also believe that I'm the progeny of Pat Robertson. It is irrelevant. This was an unproductive exercise. Reports this evening have Choi ending the hunger strike. Obviously, the policy did not change. What is worse is that few people in the "middle" knew about the hunger strike. The MSM is not covering it. To make matters worse, after protest arrests and a hunger strike, our opponents can characterize his efforts as that of a gay extremist. It sounds like an all around loss.

While I've followed Dan Choi's mission and passion and supported him the entire time, I must say I think this bahavior "cheapens" him. This is the kind of behavior one sees in a two year old and a good parent just ignores the behavior saying, "ok, don't eat. It hurts nobody else." It's immature and should be beneath his dignity.

Angela, you have outlined a great history lesson. I agree Dan IS a real GLBT hero and those who constantly refer to his actions as "stunts" don't understand the notion of "civil disobedience."

We only have to go back to the late 80s and early 90s to look at the actions of ACTUP. There were many criticism of what they did but they indeed moved the government to institute programs to help those who were infected with HIV/AIDS and prevention programs.

Remember, ACTUP shut down the United States Supreme Court for the first time in history. They shut down the Food and Drug Administration. And of course the many different actions all across the country.

Alex is too young to remember the fast of the Rev. Elder Troy Perry on the steps of the Federal Building in Los Angeles in 1977 to raise $ 100,000 as seed money to fight Prop 6 even though a signature had not yet been gathered to put it on the ballot. He fasted for 19 days before the goal was reached and he ended the fast.

After the start of his fast he traveled to the MCC I pastored in Ft. Worth because he had made the commitment to speak at the church.

Even though I was in Texas I felt compelled to join him in the fast and the following Tuesday I set up on the steps of the Federal Building for 14 days. I lost 20 pounds and for the most part did not feel particularly weak as I napped when I felt like it and slept at night.

I did get tired of water and switched to sugar free Kool Aid.

I am glad to hear Dan has ended the fast and will continue to pressure the administration to QUICKLY end DADT.

Angela Brightfeather | June 3, 2010 10:26 AM

It is without a doubt, the bane of the GLBTI Community and the movewment in general, that we are burdened with mouthpieces who neither understand or condone the true elements of change and the fact that all actions are good actions as long as they bring results to the cause.

Instead, they wail like little babies, confined to their computer screens and unable to understand the unity of action and the creation of intent, generated by hands locking together and voices raised in rightful dissention against injustice and inequality.

In your face activism is always more affective than taking little steps, if it is well planned, communicated, strategic and does not destroy the property or lives of others. The purpose is to disrupt that average way of thinking and acting by those who are doing wrong and to get their attention long enough for them to oen their ears and minds long enough to abosrb the right message.

I don't agree with the way a lot of activism is conducted out there, but I do think that Dan Choi is an activist that is after my own heart and a great example of what we should all be atempting to do, disrupt the normal pattern of thinking and jumping into people's consiousness long enough to get them to listen to another side of the arguement that states, this shit has been going on long enough and it's got to stop!!