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Recently a letter ran from a man, Pissed, who felt I wasn’t qualified to give advice to breeders because I, Dan Savage, am not a breeder. I am a fag, and what could a fag possibly know about breeders, breeder sex, breeder mores, etc, etc? I told Pissed I was more qualified to comment on heterosexuality than the average homo-ignorant breeder is to comment on homosexuality. I probably know more about breeders than Ann Landers will ever know about queers, for example, yet Ann has been offering advice to unhappy homos since the Spanish-American War. Nobody ever tells Ann to go out and eat herself some pussy before she advises lesbians about their sex lives, do they? No, they do not. Well, Pissed’s letter touched some nerves, because the mail has been pouring in. Here’s a sample:
Homos shouldn’t give heteros advice? If it’s wrong for a person from one group to tell another group what to do, perhaps Pissed thinks it’s equally wrong for hets to make laws that affect homos. Where do men get off making laws that affect a female’s reproductive rights? Perhaps Pissed should also write a letter to the pope, that 12-language-speaking Polish guy who tells lots of monolingual non-Poles what to do. Go after some of those overweight, old, straight, white, rich males making laws in Washington, D.C., and leave Dan alone.
Dan: Could you give a hetero guy some good old-fashioned homosexual fashion advice? That is, if you’re still giving advice to heterosexuals. What is the current fashion climate concerning men wearing clogs? I think, although not practical, they look great. –All Clogged Up
Only hairdressers can pull off clogs. Not that clogs look any less ridiculous on hairdressers than they do on lawyers, doctors, advice columnists, or professional body piercers. Clogs look pretty stupid no matter who’s wearing them. But hairdressers have a higher fashion calling than the rest of us and thus more leeway.
Breeders who read Savage Love believe that complete acceptance and understanding of alternative lifestyles actually enhances life as we know it, including our own sexuality. Most of Dan’s hetero advice is right on the money–do you think he’d get any hetero mail if he didn’t hit us where we lived?
Not all straight people are as stupid as Pissed is, because then we’d believe his slant on HIV infections: the most rapidly rising numbers right now are not among gay men, but among young women of color. My guess is they’re not sleeping with infected gay men.
Pissed: Get out of your hole. Better yet, stay in it and keep your piss with you.
Two comments: 1. “Alternative lifestyles” is antigay code. Describing my sexuality as an “alternative” implies other alternatives exist beside the one I’ve chosen. My sexuality was not a choice: there is no “alternative” lifestyle for me, only the life I’m living. The closet might be an “alternative” for some, but the closet is not a lifestyle, it’s a deathstyle.
2. You raise a very good point: heteros write me letters. If straight people didn’t want my advice, they wouldn’t ask for it, and I’d be back at work in the food-service industry. It’s just that simple.
Your response to Pissed was full of shit.
Being gay does not make you a “sex expert,” it does not make you good at sex, and it doesn’t make you better at communicating. Being gay may give you a different perspective than some, but it does not, in and of itself, mean much. You have your nerve assuming that straight people never agonize over who they are or why they wanna fuck the people they do.
People who are gay can be just as insensitive as anybody else. You included. As a reader, I’m disappointed. –CW
Gay people insensitive?! We are so sensitive! In fact, my female friends tell me that all the time. “Dan,” they say, “you are so sensitive.”
And I never said that gay people are better at communicating, I said we are “compelled to communicate.” A straight person can be just as good a communicator as a gay person, but straight people are not forced to communicate with each other about their desires the way gay people are. It may be insensitive of me to point that out, but it’s the truth.
Pissed suffers from the same disease that most of our world suffers from: ignorance. Pissed says that Dan Savage isn’t qualified to give advice to heterosexuals because he is gay. Why is it so difficult for Pissed and people like him to understand how much a comment like that hurts? What makes you think, Pissed, that pain, love, sharing, hopes, and dreams are things that only heterosexuals share in common? We share the same world. Your ignorance blinds you. Blinds you to the fact that we are everywhere. We designed the clothes you wear, the computer you use. We built the car you drive and the home you live in. We made the movies and music you enjoy. We grow, harvest, deliver, and cook the food that feeds your family. We care for you when you’re sick, protect you, and go out of our way to make sure you get to where you are going on time and safely. And like it or not, we teach your children.
So, Pissed, you think Dan Savage is not qualified to give advice? Think again. Think about how much we have in common and how much we share. –DF
Your “We Are Everywhere” screed makes the gay and lesbian community sound like Amway or something, and while it’s very touching, I sincerely doubt it will alter Pissed’s attitude one bit. For people who hate queers, the knowledge that we “make sure you get to where you are going on time and safely” (what are we? an airline?) doesn’t amount to much.
Here’s an example: Popes have been working their Catholic hocus-pocus under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for hundreds of years. The fact that “we” painted that masterpiece hasn’t altered the church’s homophobia one eensy, weensy, altar-boy-buggerin’ bit. The lesson? Homophobia and the enjoyment, appropriation, and exploitation of an individual homosexual’s contributions to art, culture, and commerce can coexist quite nicely–and have indeed done so for centuries. Convincing a bigot that a fag short-order cook fried his eggs or that a dyke air traffic controller kept his plane from slamming into the Everglades ain’t gonna do shit, and therefore ain’t worth the trouble. But it’s still a lovely, if a bit syrupy, sentiment. Thanks for writing.
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