Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dan Savage Was Not Annoying

I've always thought that one should point out when people you normally disagree with get something right.
Quiet Riot Girl has an ongoing series of posts titled "Dan Savage is Annoying" that I'm quite fond of. I never really liked Dan Savage - and although I think he gives good advice, generally, there was something about him that I didn't like. I assumed that it was latent homophobia or something. I was happy to find that another progressive didn't like him.
So, when Dan was asked this question at Cornell University - I thought I knew what he was going to say.

Cornell professor Ritch Savin-Williams said in the New York Times that he's concerned that it's not about gay youth, but about gender-atypical kids. Is the "It Gets Better" campaign too narrowly focused?

I expected Dan to say that because gender-atypical straight kids were straight that they would be OK and didn't need the reassurance that the "It Gets Better" campaign afforded them. But no, he did a good job here. In fact, he pointed out that their campaign misses out on a key of their demographic (gay kids who can pass for straight) and still didn't denigrate the experiences of the straight-yet-gender-bullied tomboys and sissies out there.

In high school I scored very low on the hetero score among the guys in my school. I didn't play any of the sports that mattered (the ones ending in -ball), I enjoyed acting in drama and never dated any of the girls from my school. One year, a guy in my English class showed the determination to call me "fag" whenever he referred to me - for weeks on end. He said it out loud, often within earshot of the teacher. "Good job on your paper, fag." "I'm not gay." "It's OK if you're a fag, fag. You can be comfortable in your faggotry around me." (This boy is now a minister at a Southern Baptist church in Virginia. I Googled him.)

You might be asking why the teacher never called him out on this. Well, she was a closeted lesbian. If she had written up the pastor's son (did I mention that) for sexual harassment of another male student - well I don't think it would've been good for her career wise. One day she asked me to stay after class. She wanted to let me know that if I was gay, that I shouldn't be ashamed, or hate myself or anything. This was too much for me. I looked her straight in the eye and said "I'M. NOT. GAY!"
Her attitude towards me changed very quickly. She had no problem with me enduring slurs - as long as I was straight. Maybe she lumped me in with all those homophobic rednecks in Appomattox. Maybe she liked to see infighting amongst the "enemy." Maybe she didn't believe me.

Either way, Thanks Dan, for getting it right.

And if anyone is wondering why I got so angry at being called "gay" if there's nothing wrong with being gay - let me put it this way:

If you own an empty hotel and someone keeps putting up a "no vacancy" sign on the lawn, wouldn't you be more than a little pissed?

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