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Dan Choi Confidential – is it Dan Choi Inc?

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Melanie Nathan July 27-2010 - The article (1)I wrote asking Dan Choi for answers about his discharge from the Military and motivations was completely ignored by Dan.  He has yet to answer my very direct questions.  In the meantime Dan Choi, DADT Veteran, who left the army a year ago to join the National Guard and then discharged under DADT a month ago, has continued to up the ante.   Certainly that would seem to be the case as far as DADT activism is concerned – Giving Senator Reid his West Point Ring and negotiating deals around its return-certainly speaks to Reid’s re-election bid with LGBT support and the Repeal of DADT as the quid pro quo oh and of course the Ring as collateral.

However as long as questions in articles remain unanswered by the one to whom they are addressed, there is a tendency for the populace to become impatient, questioning, doubting and so the tips start to roll in from unnamed sources and a behind the scene confidential brew fest results in acquiescence reminiscent of drunken courage, resulting in the very answers the article sought in the first place.

One of many sources who asked to remain anonymous, has informed Lez Get Real “I know for a fact that what you are saying about Lt. Choi is true and factual. He spoke at Texas A & M. Lt. Choi was one of my biggest inspirations because I too am a US Veteran, and I am gay too. I have since also questioned his motives tremendously, and lost a lot of respect for him as a person, and as a soldier and activist.

He required Texas A & M to pay him $7500 and then tacked on an additional $2300 for travel expenses. He also required that they fly him first class. His agent is also a miserable human being.  Since this was done through a school I’m sure there are records of it.

Although I respect Lt. Choi for the things he has done and continues to do for DADT, I question his motives. And honestly, an apology at this point will suffice. But I’m not a big fan of gossip or smearing anyone’s name. However, I do believe that the truth should be out there, and I thank you for having the courage to put it out there.”

Dan has had ample opportunity to answer questions over some time now posed by Lezgetreal and to come on the record – an interview – whatever! Yet he has failed to come forward.  Instead he continues to forage for publicity, like the Ring deal mentioned above. Publicity is okay if it is purely about DADT. But my question is does he take his risks and jump on stages, hunger strike for a few days and tie himself to the White House to up his price?  Or does he do it all purely for the repeal of DADT.  If  some believe that the Choi antics in fact do not serve DADT well, then there is a perceived conflict of interests;  is that detrimental to our cause? Money vs. Cause? That could certainly be the case, unless we can be convinced otherwise.

The nature of his behavior is what impacts and ups his price on the speaker circuit, whether motivated by such or not; some of the antics may not be good for DADT repeal.  My assertion is that if one does not have pure motives while being an activist, hampered by publicity stunts that serve to raise one’s price,  and get one from  coach to first class, points to a serious conflict of interests, unless the boundaries are very clear and then not crossed.  In this instance Dan’s silence has created doubt as to whether there are any boundaries at all.

To add insult to injury, I recently, reviewed a speech given by Dan Choi at Harvard where he criticized organizations using the movement and the suffering of others to make money.  All the while charging the likes of $7-10K himself or certainly poised to head that way very soon thereafter.

As another source said:  “I believe in his actions, his civil disobedience, and everything he’s done for the movement, however this calls into question the motives behind it – when he has an agent – and then charges college students obscene amounts of money to come and speak.  It sickens me that he got up on stage and said all of that while meanwhile he’s making almost 10K just to be there! “

To all those who have come out in support of my first Article,  and the bravery of the other LGR writers who have tackled this question, thanks for the validation.  Bridgette LaVatoire and Dr. Paula Brooks, have taken great risks at whatever cost, to try and keep readers well informed.

We have gone to great risk of alienation to get truth out and will continue to do so. I completely understand and respect those of you who have expressed confusion and thank those of you have spoken to me about what you know to be the truth.

I am sure Dan Choi is afraid to interview with Lezgetreal as we are now perceived as his greatest critic.  Should he choose another forum to answer these questions he may decide to do so on another BLOG or perhaps even in a paid forum – however I assert a soft interview will never replace the follow up questions that we at LGR will have.

Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com

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27 Responses to Dan Choi Confidential – is it Dan Choi Inc?

  1. Timotito

    December 16, 2010 at 5:26 am

    Thanks for reporting this. This is the 1st I’ve heard of your site or heard of this history w/ Lt Choi. This was very well written and apparently well-sourced as well.

    I have mixed feelings about this, or more so about Lt Choi. Frankly, this shows that he is human like all of us, and that humans fall to things like greed and lying and deception. I’m not excusing him for these alleged poor qualities (if they’re even true), yet I believe despite that, we still need to appreciate him for what he’s done so far. Even if he’s doing it to be the latest cause celebre’, he has still done much to bring the issue into the spotlight while others have been diligently working behind the scenes.

    He has also visited Seattle on more than one occasion. We have large glbt & military populations, thus many gay vets as well (including myself). If what you say is true, then several organizations have been coughing up some serious dough to sponsor him here. If any of them are public, such as possibly UW or City of Seattle, then anyone can request financial statements through the Freedom of Information Act. In the case of private sponsorship, such as possibly corporate or private schools, it would surely be more difficult to obtain such records, but not necessarily impossible for the right person who is determined to push for the info to be made public.

    But I also wonder how much of his speaker’s fees are personal salary and how much go back into the cause, be that HRC or any other gay military organization – of which there are many now. (I’m certain the 1st class flights take money *from* the cause, but that’s another story.) Of course we can’t know that if he doesn’t open his books. Yes, he’s a private citizen, but he’s collecting personal donations as well as large public sponsorships, thus he should be honest with his supporters. I’m also wondering if there’s a way to compel him to show his expenses. Maybe a donor (whether individual or corporate or educational) could sue? I’m sure it’d have to be a donor, else the plaintiff wouldn’t have standing (a legal right to sue).

    Anyway, despite these allegations, he still has my personal support for his efforts. I have never supported him financially (and may not after reading this blog), but I’m still glad for his publicity. Regardless of whether his motives are pure or selfish, at least he is a public face in the cause. Now, if we could just get him to be accountable to his supporters…

  2. AJ

    August 3, 2010 at 1:11 am

    So given his full dance card of late, it’s safe to say he’s doing 2 or 3 speaking engagements a month, AT LEAST. That’s a personal take of, what, $15k after taxes? Fancy is living high on the hog.

    And as a slap of sorts, a “Lt. Dan Choi Speaks Out” ad is at the top of your page right now through gotham artists

    To say I’m getting jaded is a bit much, but I’m closer to that point than I’m comfortable with. Won’t stop joining my LGBT brothers and sisters out in actual on-the-ground outreach and interaction, but I’m really getting bothered by all the fakes and frauds in Gay, Inc. right now. 

  3. Activism Cash

    July 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    To book Dan Choi for a speech:

    http://gotham-artists.com/lt_dan_choi.html

    $10,000 plus expense – ALL dates available.

  4. Donkey Kong

    July 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Ok, now that we’ve beat a dead horse, what’s the real issue? The issues are slowly, I mean slowly going through the courts. Dan Choi can tie himself to anything he wants, but the survey still went out, and everyone was embarrassed in this country on how constipated we are. Dan’s agent, from what my daughter says, is not a nice individual. My daughter’s college wanted him to speak, and the fee was as you’ve stated above, and the “first class” thing too. I can give a speech on GLBTQ issues, and I’m straight, and i’ll do it for free. My daughter was crushed when she could not get him to speak at her university because of the exhorbitant cost. First Class, who does he think he is? Importantly, Obama could sign a stop gap to end immediately the release of gay outed military persons, but he has politically chosen not to do that. If I ever in my life meet a politician with balls to do anything that goes against their grain, i’ll eat my hat! Oh, politician and going against the grain…..oxy moron. Anyway, just relax, and let the courts decide, and quit giving money to these yahoos. The lawyers are the answer.

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm

      @ Donkey Kong. Thanks for visiting and being yet another source to confirm the facts that still seem to some to be impossible…. I have taken a lot of flak over this at
      http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/07/30/24878

      I really wanted to get the truth and asked questions. I have now received many confirmations that Dan let the kids down over a fee. May I repost your comment on Box Turtle?

  5. Ray

    July 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    “and if Dan makes a buck… fine… as long as he is doing the right thing to make it”

    I look forward to your indepth analysis of Joe Solmaneze’s dollar value. He of “Hottest Bachelor Advocates in Washington DC” fame, wearing his $3,000.00 Italian suit he paid for with money I sent to HRC to fight bigots. Recall his famous email blast in which he crowed that we’d all have our right by 2017. Thank God Dan Choi and David Boise didn’t wait for marching orders from Solmanese,

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 31, 2010 at 3:01 am

      Ray what has HRC and others like Joe Solomonese have to do with CHOI’s potential conflict of interests> Joe has an external Board via HRC that is held financially accountable for what it authorizes in Budget and salary,. They can get sued. Its a huge responsibility being on a Non profit Board. So he is accountable, His salary is defined, clear and its pursuant to his job. No comparison to renegade activists.

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      Oh yes Off topic – re HRC – I do have an idea that may serve the community Ray; As a donor HRC is absolutely accountable to you. Why don’t you ask for accountability on how they spend the money. You can look into Joe’s hours, his expenses, his salaray, his benefits – its all there for public knowledge and Board accountability. Everything he makes must be approved by the HRC BOARD of Directors. In Fact I would not be at all surprised that at the time you donated your money – he was already in the expensive realm. Also – one must look at his qualifications and what he may be making in the for profit arena. I am not sure what his professional background is – I am sure easy to google. I have never seen his resume either. Maybe he is underpaid for all we know?? That said- it may be worth checking to see if he flies COACH, FIRST CLASS or AIR FORCE ONE!!

    • david greer, TTU '85

      August 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      @ paula:

      “” We will end DADT this year” started long before Choi was ever in West Point…”

      that’s not what you meant, right?

      choi graduated from west point in 2003…five years before the last election. president obama wasn’t elected (and immediately started kicking sand in the face of the GLBT community) with false statements like the quote “we will end dadt THIS YEAR” until AFTER his feb. 2009, inauguration.

      let’s castigate the appropriate “fierce advocate”, shall we?

  6. CJ

    July 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I, for one, am very glad that Choi is getting things moving. If he’s making a buck off of it, more power to him! Thanks to him something is happening again on Inclusive-ENDA and on DADT repeal. Can we stop all the in-fighting within the community and start working toward our common goals? HRC and SLDN seem to have caught-on and are getting on board with progress now. Let’s start focusing on our common enemies and stop pissing on our own. (Yes, I’ve been as guilty as anyone)

  7. OttoMad77

    July 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

    A very compelling argument–i am no fan of the military, and feel our current movement a bit narrow in scope., ie marriage, DADT, etc., but was only to happy to see someone–Choi–doing SOMETHING to make some noise. I look forward to reading more about this.

    • OttoMad77

      July 29, 2010 at 9:15 am

      oops–*only “too” happy–i hate when that happens

  8. Melanie Nathan

    July 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    @Paula wanna be my agent?

  9. Byron

    July 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Who Cares?? Since when is this entire movement about one person….? Hate to break it to you, but Dan Choi is human….not some superhero sent from outer space to save all of gay kind; I mean really, it is a bit ridiculous to compare the success or failure of a movement based on the actions and intentions of one person… If he were gone tomorrow, there would be a thousands of other homosexuals who have been effected by DADT, who would be there to take his place.

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      @ Byron – yes indeed; but when one person takes over a movement – or thinks he does… he has overshadowed the other DADT activists because they do NOT HAVE agents getting them Gigs for the exposure. Hence less visibility – whereas they should all get visibility. Byron did you read the first piece I wrote as refs. above, Thanks for commenting

  10. Seth

    July 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    When resistance becomes power… oh wait, we haven’t won yet. Why are people hating on Dan? So he charged to be a speaker? $7500 is high for an honorarium, yes (2-3k is typical), but that is not a crime. Maybe he charges a lot because he knew he was going to lose his job. Judy Shepard costs even more (~10k+), and nobody would dare say she’s profiting off the death of her son. But she wrote a book she might make money off of? Please, Dan and Judy have done more for all of us than most everyone that reads this blog (myself included) and they need to support themselves somehow, and the people that paid, must have thought it was a fair price. We are not the far-right, we should not take down our own. Show some respect.

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Seth you are misinformed. Firstly Dan left the army a year ago – to join National guard. Unusual for a West Point GRad? That said he took a whole month to inform media of his discharge. Third nobody says its not okay to get money for speaking. What is not okay is when there is a conflict of interests and as an activist you fail in your boundaries or to inform the people that you DO get paid. He has used our rights to earn much more money than he would have done in teh army. That said, he should simply beho0nest about his activism vs. his speaker career. He refused to speak to the TECH gay kids in RX because they could not come up with enough money. Other venues, according to sources, he asks to travel first class. Personally I dont think its okay to hide things when you make your self visible on my behalf!!

  11. paul canning

    July 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    That’s ‘precious’, not ‘previous’ .. (rolls eyes .. )

  12. paul canning

    July 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    It does take guts to post on something like this and I’m not the least surprised that no-one else has picked this up.

    I’m impressed with how you’ve written it up and he’s had the opportunity to respond. Having been at the receiving end of another LGBT blog, though that was a one-man-band, claiming to ‘hold them accountable’ your hesitancy and obvious internal debate over how to do this shows how this should be done. Previous little investigative LGBT reporting around.

    Having said that, it is very disappointing if Dan is behaving as outlined. Dan has shown great support over Iraq’s pogrom of LGBT – an issue I’m involved with and where there’s bugger all chance of a payday for him.

    • paul canning

      July 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      that’s ‘precious’ not ‘previous’ .. (rolls eyes .. )

  13. MPetrelis

    July 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    congrats on giving me news i didn’t know till i read this post. i am not surprised in the least that dan has an agent, considering how much media attention he gets. you’re right to ask the questions about whether his activism is in any way motivated to help his paid speaking career. don’t hold your breath waiting for him or his org getequal to reply.

    they have not answered some basic questions posed in early june by andrewW, and i don’t see getequal finally getting around to holding their own town hall meetings.

    btw, ‘white house’ is two words:
    >> tie himself to the Whitehouse to up his price?

    • Rockin Robin

      July 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Choi shouldn’t answer any questions.  He doesn’t need to.  GetEqual has changed everything – Activism is now a career and Choi should get as much as he can.  Results are not important, salary is.

      I agree with someone who said Choi quit the Army in 2008 and he only re-enlisted in 2009 so that he could become a celebrity.  It seems contrived to me.

  14. Melanie Nathan

    July 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Yes I agree. It would not be money smart to answer any f these questions. I wonder if he is on GetEqual Payroll?

  15. Becki Jayne Harrelson

    July 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    As to Lt. Dan’s discharge, according to “This Way Out” International Lesbian & Gay Radio’s Newswrap ending July 24, 2010, and distributed July 26 (written by “Greg Gordon, with thanks to Rex Wockner with Bill Kelley”)…

    “His parents apparently received the discharge letter at their Tustin, California home on June 29th.  But Choi said he hadn’t spoken with them since his last visit there in June of last year.  He said his commander in the New York Army National Guard, where he’d continued to serve without any problems since coming out, gave him the news by phone this week.”

    Just reporting what I heard on the radio. You can get the above info by going to:

    http://thiswayout.org/summary/newswrap/2010/

    And downloading the N1165-07.26.2010.doc.

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Becki for commenting – much appreciated.

  16. CJ

    July 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

    How much is LGR making off of Uncle Joe Solmonese for these attempts to discredit the ONE person who seems to be getting any action in Washington? I trust Choi, for now, thank you very much. LGR continues to be HRC’s “front.”

    • Melanie Nathan

      July 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm

      Cj you gave me a good laugh as in LMAO- Firstly I do not know the people at HRC- I have written to Joe Solmonese several times and am always ignored. Not even the decency of a response. Secondly we have been vocal critics on LGR of HRC and finally, we do not get paid ONE CENT for our writing. We have just recently taken advertisements to help us cover what has been out of pocket expenses, all paid for by me (while I am in foreclosure on my home) and by Paula. The writers are unpaid volunteers. There are a handful of us that keep the writing happening on this site. we have grown leaps and bounds by our hard work. I have lost most my work income through dedication and time put into LezGetReal and have taken great personal risks. Not only is your comment insulting but completely false.