Dan Savage: You Do Not Speak For Me

Hello, My name is Nick and I’m fired up. Please hold while I get my Soapbox….

Thank you.

A friend posted the following to his wall on Facebook as something he “Liked” as I continued to read, my blood started boiling, I started getting worked up and I was ready to spit fire, I’ve given myself a day to think about it. I’m still steamed.

The following is a letter from “LR” to Dan Savage after an interview regarding the “It Gets Better” campaign, of which I’ve even posted a message, you can read that message here. (You can see the back and forth between Dan Savage and the Letter Writer, here. Or below)

This letter and response is titled “Your Image”

I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.

If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man.

To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.

Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.

L.R.

And Dan Savage’s Response:

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.

No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.

A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?

Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.

And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.

Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.

Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?

Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day in, day out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call Mom and Dad.

 

I know that’s a lot to read and If your face is a little red with anger, I’m sorry. I apologize for this crackpot’s words.

First of all. CHILDREN ARE DYING. Gay, Straight, Black, White, Christian, Atheist. Children ARE dying.

While I agree the It Get’s Better Campaign is one of the best things to come out in a long time. I disagree there is any comparison to a person’s faith (or lack thereof) when it comes to bullying. From my experience, it’s not the followers who have given me the most grief in my life, it’s those who have hate in their heart.

I understand people who have issues with religion, and those who are followers. I myself struggle with religion and faith. I wouldn’t say I’m lost. I just don’t know what I’m looking for. What I do know, is regardless of my beliefs and regardless of my friend’s beliefs, they believe in me, and I likewise believe in them.

Mr. Savage, you’ve taken this discussion to a whole separate level. Gay Marriage has nothing to do with children dying. Chew on this for a moment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2007…

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,00

I REPEAT: Children are dying

Mr. Savage, you include in your response the phrase, “Fuck your feelings”. This leads me to believe, you weren’t hoping to make things better for everyone, you didn’t learn anything from your “It Gets Better” program, you used it for it’s instant popularity. I believe many kids and adults are getting stronger because of it, but you chose to erase all your good will for ANOTHER single moment of stupidity. It pains me to think you have any credibility as a speaker for the Gay Community.

To the people of faith out there, I still consider you my allies. It’s fairly certain you and I will not agree on all things, however, I believe the greater cause here will encourage all of us to think about our words, what we teach each other, what we will allow our friends to get away with and will also cause us to examine what we teach our children.

While I know there is a deep fissure between “organized religion” and the “gay community” there are strong people on both sides working towards the middle, extending hands to shake and closing that gap. Lets keep that in mind when we speak or when we generalize.

I’m sorry for the super long blog post, but I have always thought, when you see something, say something. I’m putting away the soapbox. Thanks for listening.

A side note to “LR”: I care about your feelings. I know from reading your letter you were deeply affected by the suicides of these children, as we all are. I hope we can move past the hateful message of Mr. Savage and I hope we can continue to work together towards the goal of better lives for all people and someday we’ll all move past the hurt feelings of the past and save some lives.

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5 responses to “Dan Savage: You Do Not Speak For Me

  1. Nick – I adore you because of stuff like this – I am proud of you and thankful I can call you my friend. People in general are good – the few that are idiots make us realize how wonderful the others are. I have not followed much of this particular instance but have had friends of all races, sexual orientation and religions discriminated against it makes me sick – not sure why people feel the need to judge each other, or simply show their ignorance. We are all here to create a harmonious world – thanks for getting your soap box out.

  2. Amen Nick! I agree 100% Grrrrr this does NOT make Dan seem credible!

  3. Almost a Republican! 🙂

  4. That was quite the read! I think it fits well with the condemnation posts I finally caught up on at the blog carnival. I learned much from them, but this really hit hard.

    I read the article in Time about the suicides earlier today and it broke my heart…

    I felt angry after reading Dan’s response, but your thoughts really got me thinking. I’m so grateful to have you in my life!

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review | Schnikisms

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