I knew about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but it wasn’t until Iraq that I pondered whether I should come out. I thought, You know, I could die at any moment here. One of my friends did die, and I was sitting at the memorial service, thinking, Here I am in this very dangerous area. When am I going to start living my life?
I fell in love January of ’08. For a closeted military person, it’s a very arduous journey to meet somebody. So then I thought my contribution for gay rights was going to be coming out to my parents, two people who are anti-gay, who voted against gay marriage. You have training and body armor when you go to Iraq, but how do you defend yourself against Bible verses from your reverend dad? I just told my dad, I said, “You know how much I’ve prayed about this? I’ve said, ‘Jesus, please make me straight.’” We haven’t been talking since.
Video: In an interview with Atlantic Deputy Editor Scott Stossel, Choi explains why he decided to come out and how he realized the insidious effects of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
I was so politically naive, but I was getting angry. And then it was like, “Well, what are you going to do to me now, ’cause Reverend Choi knows!” So after I came out to my folks, a group of us started a West Point group, Knights Out. I was chosen as a spokesperson. That was difficult, because Asian people are not very visible people, and they don’t break rules, and the same thing goes for Christian and military people. But I felt that this was the next step of what I needed to do. I was on The Rachel Maddow Show, and she was asking, Should the president repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? I said, Look, I just want to serve my country. The fact is, I was scared to death to jump into that. I don’t have a degree in politics.