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It wasn’t real popular, and I ended up giving my first sound bite to the media during that time—explaining why it was a good idea.” At the end of his junior year, Choi took part in a weeklong tryout for drum major and won the job. “But it was a mace—a military baton—not like a majorette’s.“I had to be able to give vocal commands, keep the time, and conduct the band on the ground.” He also had to learn how to twirl a baton. It’s not flamboyant, but it involves technique.” Choi was elected student council president in his senior year.Growing up during the Korean War, both had felt the sting of conflict.Choi’s mother has no idea what became of her father—he was “stolen away into North Korea”—and his father, too, experienced the mysterious disappearance of relatives.“Then I had a full course load, because I was in advanced placement. The only television show I allowed myself was .” Choi admits he had crushes on men during high school, “but I kept busy all the time so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.” Still, despite his impressive achievements and popularity, Choi never had a girlfriend.At 3 p.m., there was a student government meeting, which was often followed by meetings on specific issues. Although he had convinced his family and his peers that he was happy and involved, he couldn’t convince himself.“Our band folders were all from the Marine Band,” Choi remembers.

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We joked about him, but years later when those of us who were gay looked back, we admired him.” “I didn’t want to be a stereotypical homosexual,” Choi says.

“The faculty complained that there were too many assemblies, because each ethnic group wanted their own day.

I had to convince everyone to take part in a combined event.

Reflecting on the loneliness he experienced on that journey and exploring a past that had long remained repressed, Choi comments that the interview was “cathartic.” The accomplished man who emerges during this interview makes the military’s ban on homosexuals seem especially ludicrous.

Clearly it is not in our national interest to drive “the best and the brightest” from military service. Choi, however, the Army’s loss is the gay community’s gain, giving us a courageous and passionate leader who is fearless and determined in the face of adversity.

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