Lt. Dan Choi, 29 yr. old Arab linguist who served 2 tours in Iraq and until today serving as Infantry platoon leader in the New York Army National Guard, has finally received his dismissal for being an openly gay US soldier. 

Here are excerpts of his interview with Rachel Maddow. He started his public protest of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies by coming out on her show 16 months ago.

“First time I’m a civilian since I was 18. As much as you build up your armor and get ready for those words…saying that your fired. You can’t deal with that pain and the emotion.

“Being in the closet is a poison…”

“There are so many that  have a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in their own hearts and in their own homes. They deal with that same kind of enforced shame and that kind of enforced hatred of themselves. It tears away at the fabric of who they are.”

“The meaning of service, the meaning of our country is not wrapped up in a sentiment or an emotion or an argument about what the uniform signifies. That uniform that I put on, that I’ve worn since my very first days at West point that stands for fighting for freedom and justice. and if there is no fighting for freedom and justice, then nobody deserves to wear that uniform.”

“There is no need for a survey, there is no need for a poll, there is no need for people to put up shower curtains because somebody is afraid of what might happen. I’ve been serving for 17 months quite openly and I’ve seen nothing but positive impact when you tell people around you, people you work with, the truth about who you are. There’s nothing but an increase in unit cohesion, in teamwork and trust.”