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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 16, 2010

Gay activist and veteran Lt. Dan Choi to speak at UI Feb. 25

Gay activist and veteran Lt. Dan Choi will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Iowa Memorial Union's Main Lounge at the University of Iowa.

Choi's lecture is co-sponsored by the University Lecture Committee and the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice at the UI College of Law.

Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran fluent in Arabic, attracted national attention last March when he announced that he was gay on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show. One month after his announcement, Choi was notified that the Army had begun discharge proceedings against him under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which prohibits homosexual or bisexual individuals from disclosing their sexual orientation while serving in the armed forces. Following the Cadet Honor Code, which demands truthfulness and honesty, Lt. Choi refused to lie about his identity.

Serving in the Army for a decade, he was one of only eight soldiers from his West Point graduating class who majored in Arabic. Determined to apply the leadership skills he learned at West Point, he helped form Knights Out, an organization of West Point alumni advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

Choi was born in Orange County, Calif. A first generation American, his parents emigrated from Korea and founded a church. He resides in New York and has become a full-time activist for the LGBT community.

He is speaking at the UI as part of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice's symposium "Race, Gender, and Class at a Crossroads: A Survey of Their Intersection in Employment, Economics and the Law." The following day on Friday, the Journal will be hosting professors from all over the country at the UI College of Law for four panels on intersectionality.

"Our symposium this year is about intersectionality. The symposium will focus on how different social constructs intertwine in the areas of employment, economics and the law and the impact it has, such as discrimination, isolation and self-conflict due to the intersection of race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.," said UI law student Jonathan Stensvaag, senior symposium editor at the Journal of Gender, Race and Justice.

"We are excited to have Lt. Dan Choi as our keynote speaker because of the intersectionality in his own life and the discrimination he has experienced," Stensvaag said. "He is a first-generation American, Korean-American and a gay man who is serving proudly and courageously in our nation's military. His life and his story is a personalization of intersectionality."

Lt. Choi's appearance was arranged through Gotham Artists, LLC,, 646-375-5151.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jonathan Stensvaag, Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, 319-331-9493,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,