The festivities have begun as of June 19th and NYC Pride Week is upon us again. During this time many lgbt residents of and visitors to New York City take this time to remember how far the Gay Rights Movement has come, to think about how much more there is to fight for, to recognize the ability that the lgbt community has to publicly express themselves in ways that would have been considered unfathomable 40 years ago, and of course to celebrate with millions of others during this week of festivities commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. This year Heritage of Pride is recognizing three individuals as Grand Marshals for the 2010 NYC Pride March. These honorees are Judy Shepard, Lt. Dan Choi, and Constance McMillen.
This past weekend Lt. Dan Choi gave a very powerful speech at the NYC Pride Rally which was held last Saturday at Central Park’s SummerStage. The crowd was brought to their feet by the United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. Since coming out on The Rachel Maddow Show in early 2009 he has faced discharge from the U.S. military for violating America’s Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell (DADT) policy. Choi proves to be someone who will continue fighting the repeal of this policy until all soldiers are able to serve openly. Since DADT was enacted in 1993 there have been over 13,000 discharged servicemembers.
With all that is taking place during NYC Pride Week you tend to rub elbows with familiar faces. This was the case with Choi. After a few words at the Mayor’s BBQ at Gracie Mansion I made my way to a Barefoot Wine event hosted by Pandora Boxx, benefiting Heritage of Pride. As luck would have it I ran into Choi at this event as well. We stopped by a local 7-11 where we sat on milk crates in front of the store as we chatted for a few.
During the course of the evening I learned so much about a man that started a
journey not knowing what the future would hold and now has the support of hundreds of thousands of American’s that would like to see the same end goal as Choi is seeking, the equality of our service men and women. He showed his true colors, and is someone who would like to be treated just as equally as the next person and does not want to be placed on a pedestal. I can say he has a keen memory and will very likely remember your name, even though he meets a plethora of people in a day.
Lt. Dan Choi is a man who I am honored to have interacted with on multiple occasions and continues to be a role model for many and someone that has made many sacrifices in order to deliver his message wherever it takes him.