Lt. Dan Choi at the National Right-Wing Festival

Lieutenant Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military for being gay, attended the premier right-wing national gathering known as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC. Much to Lt. Choi's surprise he was well-received by most attendees whom he thought would reflexively reject him. He said so in video comments to gay talk show hosts and writers.

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Choi says, despite meeting a few righties who thought “all Gays and Catholics should burn in Hell,” most people welcomed him and even recognised him as the gay soldier who chained himself to the White House fence during the protest over “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell”.

Part of Choi’s motivation to attend this conservative gathering was the presence of another Gay group called GOProud, a right-wing Gay conservative group allowed to have a recruitment booth in the CPAC exhibit hall. Being an all-knowing and all-caring person because he is gay, Choi thought his appearance was needed to approve of gays interacting with the larger conservative activist community.

Much to Choi’s astonishment, there was little resistance to GOProud from the 11,000+ conference attendees! Albeit, some older generation groups did boycott CPAC because GOProud participated.

In his statements to the gay press, Choi made the predictable and obligatory ramblings of encountering bigotry and homophobia, yet he was conspicuously and pleasantly enlightened by how many right-wingers recognise who he is, know about his military discharge and subsequent hospitalisation for post-traumatic stress-disorder. Choi repeatedly says that conservatives were mostly kind-hearted to him and compassionately asked about his progress with therapy.

“They’re following my story”, he says joyfully.

One of the gay opinion-leaders who interviewed Choi following his appearance at CPAC was Michael Signorile of Sirius Radio. Signorile has a long history of misogynous commentary and vicious attempts to discredit any voices counter to his own Far Left views. However, even Choi and Signorile both agree, despite their assumption that all conservatives are psychological misfits, that it is actually beneficial for gay and straight conservatives to interact politically and socially.

But, in reading some of the comments posted on Signorile’s web-page about Choi, it is rather obvious that not all gays are sympathetic to how Choi conducted himself in the military or to his “self-centered presence” at CPAC.

It is not that such Gays don’t believe that the military should accept Gay soldiers, or that gays should not be allowed to openly participate in the conservative movement. But some Gays seem put off that Choi has become the POSTER BOY for Gays in the military. After all, when one talks to Choi, he seems to be a nice-enough fellow, but he also comes across as stereotypically and obsessively introspective — lecturing people that he is “a human being with emotions and feelings.”

Let’s face it, most women in combat do not break down like Choi did! And, judging from some posts in gay cyber space, there are gays who wish that they had a “sturdier” role model of what a gay soldier can be, besides an over-sensitive, fragile “drama queen”.

And such dissenting gays do have a germane point. Choi never talks about his combat service in any manly way. Listening to him, one would think that he was incarcerated by the military and forced to go to Iraq where he flipped out emotionally and used his gayness to get discharged. If Choi wants to develop a career talking about emotions and feelings, then he should have gotten a degree in broadcasting and tried to become the Asian-American Oprah Winfrey, rather than using the military budget to get an education and a job for which he never had the prerequisite psychological strength to perform.

Be this as it may, gay people have a lot to learn from the Dan Choi legacy. Most illuminating therein is that there is certainly a generational change going on in the conservative movement toward gay people. Nearly two-thirds of the 11,000+ attendees were under the age of 40. Most welcome the presence of their gay brothers and sisters to participate in the Tea Party, advance limited government, organise to defeat Barack Obama…and discuss gay-related issues, including supporting some form of gay marriage.

Moreover, Dan Choi is no Forrest Gump, no matter how omnipresent he tries to be — at least not for the moment. For Forrest Gump had spine and selfless fortitude, in lieu of emotions and feelings.

And while conservatives are respectful to a soldier like Lt. Dan Choi and supportive of him doing well in his post military life…some gays would prefer a tougher role model for a gay soldier.