OPINION: Stop Glitter-Bombing Dan Savage. He’s Not the Enemy

Party stores must be running out of glitter: First Rick Santorum got splashed by Occupy Charleston members Saturday at a primary rally. Then, just a few hours later Dan Savage got glitter-bombed by trans activists at an appearance in Vancouver.This is the third time Savage has been bombed, compared to Santorum’s two. Does he have slower reflexes or something?

Canadian gay paper Xtra reports that six members of a group calling itself Homomilitia were behind the rainbow raid. Activist Fister Limp Wrist accused Savage of “ableist, racist, transphobic, fat-phobic, sero-phobic and rape-apologist attitudes and views.”

Really, you’re gonna take the P.C. high ground with a name like Fister Limp Wrist?

“Savage is taking on being a speaker and leader in this movement. We have to take that into account,” one of the activists told Xtra. “He’s part of a broader [group] of gay, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied gay men focused on gay-marriage priorities. We want to say those priorities are messed up.”

So now you’re taking control of the movement and deciding marriage equality isn’t important? Thanks for letting us know.

I’ve interviewed Savage several times. (My first major story back in the late 1990s was a lengthy profile piece on him.) I’ve read his books and hundreds of his columns. I’ve listened to more than 50 episodes of the Savage Love podcast and even sat through The Kid, the dreadful musical about his decision to adopt a child with his partner, Terry.

Sure I disagree with some of his opinions. That’s what opinions are for. And I’m not going to argue he’s is theperfect spokesman for the movement: Some of his antics—like re-branding Santorum or licking doorknobs to get Gary Bauer sick—are just a little too juvenile.

And kind of gross.

But after all my experience with him and his views I can say pretty confidently that he’s not anything-phobic. He tolerates, even triumphs, orientations, kinks, lifestyles and points of view that both I and Limp Wrist would turn our noses at.

What few examples Savage Haters can muster to prove he’s the son of Satan are snippets taken out of context from 21 years’ worth of columns, podcasts, lectures and books. Mahatma Gandhi could look like Fred Phelps under that kind of scrutiny.

Masculine Toast is just one blog tallying Savage’s so-called transphobic misdeeds. Compare the site’s abridged version to the original posts, though, and you’ll see how the full context and intention has been obliterated.

“But he said ‘tranny’ and ‘shemale!'” the Savage Haters cry. “He’s the gay Hitler!”

If you listen to Savage’s podcast or read his column with any regularity, you’d know the majority of his followers are straight. Savage is successful because he talks to them like a straight dude and still gets across

*that consenting adults should be free to pursue whatever brings them happiness.

*that old-school “till death do us part” monogamy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.

*That being sexually active means being knowledgeable about health risks, toys, positions—the works.

*That everyone deserves a partner who is good, giving and game for anything within reason (or “GGG” in Savage Speak)

Look, Dan Savage is not the president of GLAAD. He is not a professor of human sexuality. He is a person who talks in a conversational style while a mic records his opinions and advice. He might use the phrase “shemale” when talking to a 22-year-old college senior who’s freaking out about being attracted to trans women. But that’s because it’s the language that 22-year-olds understand. He uses it to disarm his readers, most of whom have been raised to be antagonistic toward—or at least suspicious of—anything that’s not once-a-week missionary-style heterosexuality.

In the end, you can bet Savage will tell that 22-year-old

A. that there’s nothing wrong with being trans,

B. there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to trans women and

C. go find a hot shemale and get yourself laid! (and send some photos).

If he spoke like an LGBT activist, Savage’s readership would dry up and all we’d have is Dear Abby telling us maybe not to bring our boyfriend to Mom’s third wedding if it’s going to upset her new husband.

What’s important is Savage’s message, not his vocabulary.

For the number of people Dan Savage has gotten to understand that heterosexuality is no more “normal” than homosexuality alone, he should be given an award, not be embarrassed in public. That’s not even including his work with the It Gets Better project or the dozens of cases of LGBT discrimination he’s been able to highlight in his column and ‘cast.

“Oh, but you’re just another white, male cisgendered homosexual—you’re just as bad as he is!” the Savage Haters claim.

Fine, don’t take it from me. Take it from trans porn star/activist/writer Buck Angel, who says “I stand by Dan. I really think he has done so much work bringing awareness to the world.”

I agree.

Photos: Erik Abderhalden

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