July 20, 2011

The Summer of Discontent --- Dan Savage, David Badash, Dan Choi, HRC - Is Anybody Happy?

Washington, DC:  All eyes are still on Washington, as another day goes by, without a resolution to raising the debt ceiling.

Senator Leahy (D-VT)
In gay news - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee is hearing testimony related to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, that passed both houses of Congress in 1996, and was signed into law by President Clinton.  DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, and denies LGBT couples, 1138 federal rights conferred on straight couples by the federal government.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC)  and Freedom to Marry are taking the lead on strategy, and lobbying members of Congress, and both HRC's Joe Solmonese and Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, are scheduled to testify.

Activist Dan Choi, the West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran, charged that the witnesses testifying are "exclusively white and privileged."

Marriage equality is a matter of civil rights, steeped in the language and moral lessons of the historic American struggle for inclusion and equality,” Choi said. “That the panel of gay witnesses is exclusively white and privileged brings shameful discredit to the true character of our broad community and inclusive civil rights movement.”

HRC refused a request for a comment.

I can't help but agree with Dan. This isn't about accommodating the diversity among our ranks, it's about being accountable TO the diversity within our ranks.

The ineffective leadership displayed by HRC's lack of success, after raising over $100.0 million dollars over the last 3+ years, is a national disgrace. I appreciate their efforts, but it's been too little, too late.  HRC and GLAAD are our public faces, in the halls of Congress, and in the entertainment industry. And with the resources at their disposal, it is stunning that neither group is capable of providing the national leadership we need, and deserve. Here are 2 national LGBT organizations, and if you look at their websites, on their homepages, there isn't one word or reference to HIV.

Dan "It Gets Better" Savage, the telegenic musical theatre buff,  and sex-advice columnist, seems to be more like a 'substitute' leader, than an actual LGBT spokesperson. After declaring that he'd be happy to "hate fuck" Senator Santorum, on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and mentioning the 'santorum' that would be a by-product, he also said he wished all Republicans were dead. I have to admit, when I watched the show, I wasn't sure that I'd heard right. I paused and rewound, and he did say it. While he apologized in his column, there are many viewers that will never read his blog. Republican agitators are already in an uproar about it, and that's the kind of attention we don't really need.

Savage has received a lot of credit, awards, and kudos, for starting the "It Gets Better" project. He's worthy of those awards. I'm guessing that as a result of the media recognition, that media organizations assumed he was the sex columnist for our community, and that just isn't the case.

His statements and sex-advice columns, have created controversy in the past. He doesn't appear to have much respect for the transgender community, and he has been highly critical of anyone that is over weight. He once suggested that if anyone infects someone with the HIV virus, that they should be responsible for the medical bills of whoever they infected.

In a May 2011 interview with hivster.com, he said the AIDS crisis was over, but the epidemic continues. He went on to say:
"I want to see gay men take more responsibility — for themselves, for their own choices. But we also need to recognize our responsibility to each other. It’s not enough to say, as some men will say, “If he lets me fuck him without a condom, that’s his choice, I’m not responsible for his choices.” I think that’s selfish, self-serving, sociopathic garbage."
Straight people need to have more sex, and more sex partners, than they do. Gay people need to have fewer sex partners than we can. There’s a balance. We need to find it.
That's not the rhetoric of a big tent, all loving, non-judgmental leader - and try telling someone who just found out they were infected, that the crisis is over.  In the US today - every 20 minutes someone dies from AIDS. The LGBT community does not need a sero-phobic sex-advice columnist, as either a spokesman or national leader. The LGBT community needs to be authentic, and we need to respect and honor everyone without judgment. (Unless your name is Bachmann).

The website queerty.com has a post entitled "David Badash: Dan Savage’s Open Marriage Will Set Back The Entire Marriage-Equality Movement." David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement, takes issue with Dan Savage's propensity to run his mouth, and he wonders if Dan Savage is the Ann Coulter of our movement.
 On queerty.com, Daniel Villarreal wrote:
Savage Loves Dan Savage and David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement are currently in a bitchy blog battle.
Savage has long advocated open relationships for couples who find monogamy rife with “boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.” In fact, he recently said as much in a recent New York Times interview. But when he noticed anti-gay activist Chuck Colson using Savage’s words to suggest that homos want to make the institute of marriage ultra-slutty, Badash called Savage’s words “misplaced rambling” and added that “those same-sex marriage activists who enter into marriage might want to think about the fact that they are the ones who will be looked at as setting the standard.”
Badash is basically saying that any gay person who has become a national media figure has an obligation to either shut up about their feelings on monogamous marriage or pretend that all gays want nice, sanitized monogamous marriages where we never do anything to offend or challenge anyone.
On this point I disagree with David Badash. I believe very strongly in marriage equality, and will continue to fight and advocate for those rights. One of the beautiful things about the LGBT community, is that because of our struggles in coming out, coming to terms with self-acceptance, and the bullying we continue to hear in our churches, on television, and in our communities in our fight to advance our civil rights, we can adapt ourselves, and adapt our committed relationships, to whatever we find works for us. Does that mean we shouldn't have the right to marry, just because we don't emulate the straight ideal? I would say resoundingly NO. We live in a country where the Courts determined that we can do whatever we want in our bedrooms.

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, not a Dominican nun. We didn't put him in this role, the media did, and he accepted. It would probably be helpful for Savage to take a step back, and when he is invited on television, remember that he doesn't speak for the community. We must be accountable to the diversity within our ranks, without having to accommodate what everyone else thinks we should be. And that includes Dan Savage. Savage has earned a right to sit with the grown ups, but until he acts like one, he'll forever be banished to sit with the kids.

Posted and written by Roy for the blog "Tie-dyed Jive in the (415)"

http://www.jiveinthe415.com/

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