Instinct Magazine’s Leading Men Of 2009

Lt. Dan Choi and Col. Victor Fehrenbach take the cover of Instinct Magazine’s Leading Men Of 2009 issue. Here’s their online teaser for the story.

Most know the basics of Dan’s story: A West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic who served an extended tour in Iraq from 2006-2007, Dan spent 10 years in the military before he was discharged. But Dan is trying to be more than Mr. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He envisions gay rights activism—and he takes pains to note that being labeled an “activist” is something he’s only recently become comfortable with—as an “in-the-streets, egalitarian affair. Out of the cocktail parties and knocking on anti-gay congressmen’s doors!” he asserts.

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach is still a member of the United States Air Force, and he would like things to stay that way. But after 18 years of service as a decorated pilot (he’s won nine Air Medals, including one for heroism), Victor’s future in the military is uncertain at best. In May 2009, Victor faced a dilemma. He was being kicked out of the military for admitting to civilian investigators a year earlier that he had had sex with a man. At first he decided to go along with the discharge, but then he had a change of heart. “The military was taking everything away from me, but the one thing I realized they couldn’t take from me is my sense of right and wrong,” he says. So he decided not only to fight the discharge but to go public with his case on The Rachel Maddow Show. With the exception of the few officers handling his case, no one else on his base knew he was being separated from the military for being gay until he was on MSNBC. Chuckling, he says, “It certainly created quite a stir.” A “stir” might be an understatement. At 40, Victor has become one of the most visible faces of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, while still fighting to retain his career and pension—courage and conviction that make a leading man.

To get the full story, you’ll have to pick up the magazine. Somehow your truly is also one of this year’s “leading men” – there’s no link to my bit available – but below are a couple of paragraphs from the the article. Hopefully I don’t sound like too much of a tool.

So Joe turned to his passion for gay activism—a passion that was ignited by the 1993 March on Washington. “I was a 33-year-old disco bunny who went because there were going to be circuit parties,” he says. “It was something to come up that escalator in the Dupont Circle Metro station and see hundreds and hundreds of our brothers and sisters clapping and applauding our arrival. I was crying. It was the most unexpected and transformative moment of my life.” But it is his attention to the facts, with his own brand of humor and commentary thrown into the mix, that has made Joe a reliable and popular source for gay news. “I was reading the New York Daily News the other day and got to page 8 before there was any real news,” he says. “The rest was gossip. I thought that’s pretty parallel to how traffic runs in the blogosphere. The thing with blogging is that you’re not so much a writer as you are a gatekeeper,” he adds. “You look at 300 stories in a day and think, ‘Okay, which 10 are pertinent to the movement? And of those, which ones will the readers find interesting?’”