Savage Truth

Dan Savage: Every Time Someone from HRC Is on TV, You Just Know We Already Lost the Fight

There are gay organizations with multi-million-dollar budgets, and none of them can seem to scrounge up an executive director who can string a few persuasive lines together and win an argument on basic cable. Why is that every time someone from the Human Rights Campaign is on TV, you just know that we already lost the fight. Whatever the argument is, whatever the question is, it’s over. Some people will say to me, “Who made you spokesperson?” You know what? Nobody. I’m a spokesperson by default.

— Sex columnist and “It Gets Better” creator, Dan Savage shares with the Good Men Project how he came to be a spokesperson for the gay movement.

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  • a.mcewen

    I don’t consider Savage as the spokesman. The lgbt community should do more to reflect the diversity of our community. And rather than act like a bitchy queen, Savage could go a long way in helping with this.

  • Fitz

    I totally agree with him. The only thing HRC can do better is throw a cocktail party for a lobbyist.

  • Mark

    @Fitz: you’er right fritz and roll over and wait for someone to rub their tummy or give them a mercy fuck.

  • Jeffree

    Seriously, with all due respect to Dan’s long history & accomplishments, can’t we have a longer list of spokespeople? How about some women, POCs, and people of different ages? Spead the net!

    Signorile & Sullivan, IMO, may not be the most representative faces of LGBT USA.

    Maybe Queerty could set up a thread for suggestions?

    I don’t follow the “talking heads” circuit very closely, but I think there have to be some other unique voices out there in the world of vlogs, potcasts, print or radio: someone regional who’s ready to go national?

  • Caligari

    I’m always glad to see Dan’s face on the screen when there’s a news discussions about gays, which always seem to feature a professional homophobe on the panel too. He’s smart, quick, and he doesn’t mince words. As for how he got to be a “spokesperson,” I’d imagine his decade plus of writing about gay issues, sexual, political, and social, have something to do with it. I don’t always agree with him but more often than not I do. From the TV producers’ standpoint he offers a lively discussion and frank views, “good TV.”

    If you want to see a good example of what I’m talking about, there’s a clip on YouTube of Dan being interviewed by CNN (then) anchor Rick Sanchez about the Larry Craig ‘foot-tapping’ arrest in an airport bathroom. Several times Sanchez almost seem to be baiting Savage, laying rhetoric traps, and Dan skillfully avoids every one of them and stays on message. “Bathroom hookups are a relic of gay repression no longer needed by openly gay people and it’s nearly always straight-identified men like Craig, closet-cases, who are caught in them, yet the gay community is blamed.” History, psychology, and legal fact laid out there in a neat package. By the end you can tell even Rick Sanchez (who never seemed like the bightest bulb) gets it.

    Now contrast that with HRC spokespersons, particularly Joe Solomnese. The best I’ve seen him manage is an almost dowager-like offense to the words of others, a prissy “how very DARE you!” clutching of pearls instead of a vigorous defense, much less waging an attack of his own. He’s the Droopy Dawg of spokespersons and in my opinion that’s not good enough.

    Should there be other spokespersons than Savage and the HRC? Of course, and they should represent the diversity of our community. But more than than that they need to be GOOD at speaking for our community, not a just a Benetton Ad racial and gender mix of camera-ready faces to satisfy PC standards.

  • Michael McCartney

    Completely agree! I was a member of the HRC for years and it began to dawn on me that other than creating a huge bureaucracy, what have they ever done? No longer a member.

  • Jeffree

    It’s an imperfect analogy but Gay Inc. needs to be more like the NRA (there, I said it!) in having multiple spokespersons who can appeal to a broad range of audiences. Joe Solmonese doesn’t play well outside the DC Beltway.

    I do think Dan is affable & well spoken, but he’s sometimes at a loss when it comes to refuting some of NOM, FotF, et al’s bad research and shoddy grasp of laws.

    We don’t need a PhD, lawyer or academic necessarily, but someone who stays on top of what’s true what what’s spin, and can go toe to toe with the Brian Brown’s of the world.

    As for diversity, it may be a function what media I tune in to, but I’m not seeing a lot of women or AA/Hispanics representing LGB issues in the media.

    [I love Rachel Maddow, oh yeah, but that’s not exactly her role.]

  • Tony

    Dan isn’t the perfect choice for spokesmodel by any means.

    But, he beats the HRC hands down. They are just F****** useless.

  • WillBFair

    Savage is as good as it’ll get for us, which isn’t saying much. First off, commercial media don’t allow smart people because they need an public ignorant to buy junk. They also won’t allow anyone to defend us because they want to keep using us as a wedge issue in elections. Finally, our community is obsessed with looks and bodies. We have no use for brains and character, and if a good speaker ever did appear, we wouldn’t recognize him.

  • franklin

    Can’t they at least hire an intelligent and well-versed spokesperson? There has to be someone out there besides the deer-in-the-headlights losers currently seen.

  • Patsy Stoned

    HRC doesn’t want to win. No more than the useless EQCA or any other professional gay org. The more they lose (in elections, etc), the longer they can keep taking in donations. There is plenty of talent, brains and creativity in those orgs, but the heads care only about the bottom line, not about gay people ever becoming equal in this country.

  • tsukasabuddha

    What a presumptuous jerk. If this bi/trans-phobic monogamy basher is “our” spokesperson, then sign me out.

    Dan, the media goes to you because you love overdramatic and controversial BS. Go back to your feel-good internet campaign.

    I just don’t see what people love about this guy.

  • QJ201

    All of the leaders of Gay Inc need media training. They are horrible at “sound bites” and “debate” unlike Dan.

  • Cam

    I just LOVE all the people here complaining that Dan isn’t a woman, isn’t a minority or doesn’t reflect the diversity of our community.

    Here is an idea, instead of being racist and sexist, listen to what he says and make your judgement on the merits. If you have a particular woman or minority advocate that you think would make a great spokesperson, you may want to let them know. Or write in to the press to ask them to have them on.

    If you love Pam from Pam’s House Blend, then ask for her! E-mail her and say “Pam, love you, is there a local paper or TV station we should e-mail to ask them to put you on?” etc…

    But to automatically complain and dismiss Savage with no comment on what they are saying because you don’t like their race or sex is idiotic, racist and sexist and shame on you.

  • Mike in Asheville

    Geez people, take a moment to think about what Savage is saying: why is it that multi-million dollar annual budget organizations, like HRC, do not hire a spokesperson who does not flinch nor apologize, and can speak clearly and logically, to appear before the press?

    Go to YouTube and search for Savage’s response to why he continues to refer to Santorum as a frothy mix — he is forward and direct, unashamed and unabashed, clear and logical. Now why can’t HRC tackle NOM in the same manner?

    With the operating budget HRC has, there MUST be excellent gay/lesbian media spokespersons available from the entertainment, media, consulting fields who know how to boldly pursue gay rights. Instead these organizations feature their CEO’s and executive directors, who may or may not be good executives; certainly, as Savage points out, they are inept media spokespersons.

  • Dennis

    Dan is Great and HRC isn’t doing a very good job.

  • gregger

    I contributed to HRC back when they were still HRCF and did so for decades. I stopped contributing to HRC after the lawsuits were filed regarding DoMA, Prop 8, and DADT. The bozos at HRC under Joe Solmonese did their best to bash, berate, and deride the people and organizations involved in the actions as “hurting the cause.” When both suits were won by the plaintiffs HRC came screaming in an attempt to take credit for the lawsuits, to the point that the young “twinks” doing fund raising on NYC streets were lying non-stop to passers by about how instrumental HRC was in the out come of these cases. My friends and I actually stood next to one and countered every lie out of his mouth.

    HRC does not take on NOM or any other bigots. HRC does not effectively lobby for the LGBT community in ending discrimination or violence. HRC does not come to the aid of victims of discrimination or violence.

    HRC does a very good job of fundraising and throwing cocktail parties. Virtually everything else that they claim to do is BS. The org used to commission studies as to what they should do the the monies HRC had raised. I think the response they liked most was throw parties.

  • Tallskin

    Speaking as someone viewing the US political scene from the UK, I have to say Dan Savage seems a very good, intelligent representative for the gay movement.

    You know he won’t take no gruff from anyone.

    I’ve not seen the other useless people other commentators on here are referring to.

  • Cam

    HRC hires their friends and people they meet in DC at parties. If they had just ONCE hired a professional lobbying firm years ago, with the millions they have, we would probably be much farther along in our rights battle.

    One lobbyist for a telecom company got McCain to break all protocal and pressure the FCC to make a favorable decision for her client….that was after ONE meeting.

    HRC brings in a bunch of their inner circle friends, with no lobbying experience, pays them large salaries and sends them out to the hill with the instruction of “Don’t every upset anybody, you are lucky they even take our calls.”

    No WONDER they can never accomplish anything and it took groups like Get Equal to get the ball rolling again.

  • Jim Hlavac

    All the millions of gay folks can’t have just one spokesperson. And while Savage is good; he’s not perfect. And some things he says I don’t like. But have at it good buddy. And I do wince at the mincing little twerps for so many gay groups, including right here in my city whom I know personally and have all the gumption of a kitten so that they don’t offend and cause the dreaded “backlash” from people whom are so against us up front that there’s no backlash possible.

    In a way, though, we’re all spokespersons for our “movement.” For we all have to deal with heteros everyday. Savage isn’t reaching the neighbor or the boss; or our moms or brothers. The change we seek isn’t just political or legal. The change we seek is right there at home, and with anyone we know, and strangers at the supermarket too, and the church up the street even. We’re each our own spokesperson for all of us — and if we do our jobs than Savage might well be out of his for there’d be nothing left to talk about except what’s on the registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

  • disco lives

    On the day the Hate Crimes Prevention law was passed, Dan Savage appeared on TV. You would think he would have a smile on his face, considering that the very first pro-gay federal law was passed in US history.

    But, no. He looked like he just sucked on a lemon, he implied that the hate crimes law was no big deal and that President Obama deserved no thanks whatsoever for it. Never mind that activists had been working so hard for over a decade to get the thing passed.

  • Armand

    Will Dan Savage ever stop preening himself as the savior for the gay community?

    Perhaps when Cher comes out with a new CD.

  • Cam

    @disco lives: said…

    “But, no. He looked like he just sucked on a lemon, he implied that the hate crimes law was no big deal and that President Obama deserved no thanks whatsoever for it. Never mind that activists had been working so hard for over a decade to get the thing passed.”

    Yes, because
    1. There are already laws against violence and murder, so this legislation isn’t creating punishments, just added penalty to something that is already punishable. Nice but not the same as giving us rights.

    2. HRC worked on Hate Crimes to the exclusion of all of our other rights, going so far as to attack people filing lawsuits for marriage or against DADT saying that we needed to concentrate on hate crimes. Which again, didn’t add any rights, whereas, DADT and DOMA are the only two federal laws on the books that demand that gays be treated as lesser people.

    3. The reason that SAvage didn’t want to priase anybody, was because right after the Hate Crimes bill was signed, we all got inundated with the “Look how great everything is, now quiet down for a while” comments. It was a throw away pat on the head to hopefully keep the gays quiet. The gays were NOT quiet and now have ended up getting a DADT repeal and the Federal govt. to stop defending DOMA.

    If we had listened to HRC, they would still be having expensive lunches and we would have nothing new.

  • Tony

    I agree, Solmonese is horrible in front of the camera. Sorry, but we do need more bulldogs who are quick with a come back, outspoken, and very assertive with the homophobes…especially on camera.

  • wtf69

    bunch of queens

  • JoeyB

    Dan has become the ultimate gay media whore, right up there with Reichen. And now he’s getting his hubby involved in everything. Wish they would just go away. He’s promoting his new book, “It Gets Better”, and another gay kid just killed himself. Yeah, it sure gets better, Dan. For you.

  • MattGMD

    I can hear the eyes rolling, but… I’m inclined to think the LGBT community needs a Rosie O’Donnell-type spokeswoman. Rosie was great back when she and Trump were “feuding” and it burned Trump even more that she would not acquiesce. Granted, Rosie might not be everyone’s candidate for spokeswoman, but for crying out loud, there’s nothing wrong with having a backbone, witty and sharp tongue and that is media-savvy.

  • Art Smith

    I’m glad I’m not young, gay, and unsure about coming out since if I encountered people like Dan Savage I would want NOTHING to do with being a gay man since I’d think that because of them being a gay man means being a bigoted transphobic and biphobic, racist drama queen like Dan Savage is.

    People like Dan Savage who are a part of the GLBT community who feel the need to put down, spout hatred towards, and exclude our own members of the GLBT community who happen to be either bisexual or trans are hypocrites and lower than pond scum.

    No it’s not censorship to call a bigot like Savage out as what he is which is a bigoted hypocrite media whore, and to read a bitch and tell how Savage is a bigoted hypocrite while claiming to be for GLBT rights, sexual freedom and equality for all GLBT people.

    Dan Savage and other bigots can run their bigoted mouths off about how much they don’t like Trans people, bisexuals, people who happen to have HIV/AIDS, African Americans voters in the state of CA, or people who don’t have pure vanilla sex but we don’t have to listen to them or take them or what they say seriously, and calling them out as what they are-bigots-is not censorship at all.

    These people like Dan Savage who are gay yet hate Trans people and bisexuals, not to mention African American voters in the state of CA—have more in common with hate groups like Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist church, Maggie Gallagaher, and NOM than they do with groups that actually do good for GLBT people at large.

    Savage is not a spokesperson by default for gay men, GLBT people, or the “community”, and he’s OK on TV and podcasts since you can turn them off instead of listening to his mindless drivel. Media whores like him deserve to be ignored.

    Then there’s the fact that Savage does not actually give a rat’s a$$ about GLBT youth or teens-all while trashing bisexual adults and Transgender adults in his “advice” column and podcasts-but only started his whole “It gets better” project to self promote himself, get money/fame, and get a reality TV show on MTV.

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