I was heartened though to hear Lt. Choi’s response, when I asked him what he thinks his new voice might be as the repeal of DADT takes shape. He spoke about perhaps helping the military implement a future non-discrimination policy, and advising in issues involving sensitivity trainings on LGBT issues. But the comment that struck me the most was when he said, “Actions speak louder than words.” It made sense all of a sudden, that the sheer act of him rejoining his unit and serving with everyone else, could be his most powerful voice in the debate so far. That seeing an openly gay service member train and fight with his unit, is something that truly does speak louder than words.
Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, clarifies that Choi has not been re-called or activated for active duty, as some have reported. Rather, “Choi is still in the New York Army National Guard, so he is completing a regularly scheduled drill weekend, which he has continued to do all along.” “This is still significant because he is continuing his regularly scheduled drills with his unit with the full support of his command, peers, and subordinates,” Nicholson wrote in an email. Indeed, Choi’s participation in the drill reaffirms what Choi himself has suspected — soldiers “care about what a person can do for the team. We’re in a time of war. We have bigger things to worry about than people being gay.”
Choi “served as an infantry officer, translator and language instructor in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.” Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the army “has discharged 59 gay Arabic linguists and nine gay Farsi linguists in the last five years, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network.”