Blog Post

LGBT History Month: A Salute to Dan Choi

I recently found out that it is LGBT history month, which got me thinking about what this means to me as a Korean and as an adoptee. This year was the 20th year of Seoul’s gay pride march. And although I was not in attendance, I was in Korea during the 2nd annual Incheon Queer Culture Festival. Last year’s festival in Incheon did not go off without incident, and so it feels good to know that there is progress being made toward tolerance, even if it is slowly. The News Lens documented some of the progress in their February 2018 article.

For those of you who don’t know, I am now the Website Coordinator for the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN). KAAN recently launched a blog and is working on content for its social media channels. I suggested that a post about LGBT history month could be of relevance to KAAN Members. But that’s all I had.

My first thought was that featuring a famous LBGT Korean Adoptee would be nice. However, no names immediately came to my mind. My research brought me to this History of Same-Sex Adoption. As the website states, “Unfortunately, the history of same-sex adoption is rather brief — but not for lack of interest or desire to adopt by hopeful LGBT parents.” As a Korean-Adoptee, it is tough for me to ignore the irony that many of the religious groups that encouraged so many adoptions from Korea in the 1970s and 1980s are the same groups now discriminating against LGBT adoptions. I think the child should have a choice in whether they wish to be adopted by an LGBT family.

Eventually, my research brought me to the LGBT history month Icon database, through which I learned about Dan Choi. According to the database, “Choi was born in Orange County, California, and raised in an evangelical Korean-American household. His father is a Baptist minister; his mother is a nurse. Inspired by the film “Saving Private Ryan,” Choi decided to attend West Point. Lt. Dan Choi is a West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran, and Arabic linguist. He was the nation’s leading activist for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).” Dan is an example for all of us to stand up for what you believe is right, even when it is difficult to do. 

As a Korean-American adoptee, I find it is sometimes challenging to stand up for what I believe is right when sometimes I don’t even feel as if I belong in America. As is the case with many adoptees, I was not given a choice of whether I wished to come to America and be stripped of most of my ties to Korea. So, I salute Dan Choi for showing me that it is OK to be a Korean-American and stand up for what I believe is right, as I am just as American as any other American.

So, the next time you are faced with a challenge of what to do in a difficult situation, I encourage you to look for inspiration in unexpected places. For me, this came in the form of learning about Dan Choi, a Korean-American LGBT icon.

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

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