Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I still love Dan Savage

Samita at Feministing isn't the first (nor, obviously, the last) in the feminist blogosphere to talk about the foot-in-mouth incident wherein Dan Savage (EIC of my hometown's only newspaper) makes some possibly-racist remarks. I say "possibly" racist because if he had said it better, there wouldn't be quite the uproar. Had he said "homophobia in the African American community is a huge problem" that, as he later points out, hurts gay people of color more than white gays, we'd still be cool.

Dan Savage is a lot of things, but he's not a racist. He admits that his statement
"I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color."
sounds racist, because it does. However, we can't always take what someone says while brooding over information such as "Seventy percent of African American voters approved Prop 8, according to exit polls, compared to 53% of Latino voters, 49% of white voters, 49% of Asian voters" which ignores the fact that this breakdown of racial minorities represents a minority of the population -- also that people in those communities as well as white communities were mislead with ads that said Barack Obama approved Prop 8, which he didn't and doesn't because he's a frakking Constitutional Scholar (amoung other reasons, of course).

However, had Dan said that sexism in the African American community is a huge problem, no one would be calling him a racist for pointing this out -- as we know, sexism is a huge problem in all communities, including white and non-white communities. Had he said that sexism and homophobia in less-integrated immigrant communities are huge problems and he's not going to pretend that racist white fags (said with love) are a bigger problem than homophobic Mexican immigrants, we wouldn't have a problem.

The issue here is that yes, homophobia in all communities is a huge problem and affects members of those communities stronger than the homophobia of other racial groups. The other issue is, of course, that we cannot scapegoat racial minorities in this. The divide is more age-related than race-related, anyway.

Also, one last thing. Seattle is overwhelmingly white, so if Dan Savage doesn't do his climb-down fast enough, that's probably why. But he's a good guy, a good EIC, and an advocate for the rights of others -- he's really pissed off about the passage of Prop 8, and I know that when I feel as assaulted as he and gay people across the country must feel, I tend to say things in less-than-diplomatic terms.

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