“As a community we’ve shown much more tolerance, diversity and support for one another,” Dan Lennox-Choate said.
Dan and Larry Lennox-Choate made history in 2013 when they became the first gay couple to be married at West Point.
“We didn’t know each other as cadets and that’s probably for the better,” Larry smiled. “We had two very different cadet experiences”
As gay men they’ve pushed through a lot like the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, policy. But, one afternoon last year while at a bodega, they faced hate at another level.
“This guy started yelling incredibly detailed, very explicit comments at us and kept saying how gay people have ruined the neighborhood,” Larry remembered.
That homophobic rage quickly escalated and turned to violence.
“He lunged at Danny, [and] sucker punched him,” Larry said.
“I’ve [absolutely never] dealt with anything like that before and it was such a surprise not just to us but to everybody else who was in the store too, they were so shocked,” Dan added.
A little over a week later, police tracked down the attacker thanks to a tipster.
“I thought that I would be angry and I would feel glad to see that he was going to have to answer for this,” Larry explained. “But, as soon as I saw him, I just felt so bad for him.”
Forgiveness, in an instant.
“When I’m at my worst, I hope that someone on the other end is going to be that person for me and allow me to come back,” Larry said.
Instead of making sure their attacker when to prison, Dan and Larry worked to get the man a shot at redemption. In other words, teaching him a thing or two about New York values through the city’s Restorative Justice Program.
“I think for me it was about him really having an opportunity to learn a lesson rather than punishment,” Dan said.
It’s compassion that Dan and Larry both know are part of this city’s pulse, despite an isolate incident of ignorance.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi