What Happened to Dan Choi After DADT? 

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Dec. 3 2013 4:39 PM

What Happened to Dan Choi After DADT? 

Dan Choi before his March 2013 trial facing charges for chaining himself to the White House fence to protest DADT.


"Who is Dan Choi without 'don’t ask, don’t tell'?"

That's the question Gabriel Arana, an editor and reporter at The American Prospect, tries to answer in his bracing new long-form piece on the fate of the discharged solider who was the face of the DADT repeal movement. From Choi's first national appearanceon the Rachel Maddow Show—in March 2009 until the official repeal in December 2010, he could be seen regularly on TV and in magazine profiles, discussing his experience as a closeted gay solider and his decision to become an activist. With his Iraq credentials and his wholesome religious background, Choi was a natural spokesman for the movement. 


But as Arana discovers, Choi had trouble finding a new script once his cause was accomplished. Increasingly isolated from family and old friends in the years since the repeal, Choi began to exhibit less savory character traits, like substance abuse and melodramatic narcissism, culminating in a total nervous breakdown during a rather routine civil disobidence case in March of 2013. Arana reflects: 

Dan’s self-narrative is under constant revision, which is a way of saying I’m never sure whether to believe him, if the version of events he’s presented is the final. When we first met, he told me he pursued the case because if the First Amendment doesn’t apply at the foot of the White House, it doesn’t apply anywhere. Another time, he told me that he wanted to lose so the proceedings could make it into case law; once a suit is appealed, it is woven into the legal record, becoming part of the constellation of rulings that guides lawyers and judges. Dan wanted to be among the stars.

For a fine exploration of what can happen after a social justice figure's star dims, take a few minutes to read Arana's piece.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.



The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Mad About Modi

Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.