For Dan Savage:
Word of your crusade to diffuse the power of the “faggot” epithet [Letters, January 12] apparently failed to reach the two ignorant homophobes who were busy “reappropriating” my face while simultaneously “reappropriating” said moniker. It is naive of you to assume that the casual overusage of “faggot” will somehow diminish its hatred. To encourage its reentry into popular conversation will easily (or conveniently) be misconstrued by many as a resurrected validation of its animosity.
If you and your circle of ostensible friends must keep your narrow argot, leave the rest of us out of it.
PS: I enjoy your column. Have a nice day.
Dan Savage replies:
It’s likewise naive (and kinda offensive) of you to blithely assume that I’ve never been bashed, never been called a faggot by someone who wasn’t hep to nonpejorative usage, and that none of my ostensible friends have been likewise abused. I have, they have–we’re not living in a hate-violence-free alternate universe. You trot out your encounter with hate violence like some sort of argument-ending trump card: “If only Dan knew what it was like to be bashed, he would see how harmful his use of the word is.” But I’ve experienced similar, probably identical, hate violence and yet feel comfortable using the word. Go figure.
The idea that someone might see the word “faggot” in my column and construe it as permission to bash queers (can I use the word “queer”?) is frankly ridiculous. People who hate us, folks, hate us, and they’re not sitting around waiting for my permission to go out and punch one of us in the face. People who don’t hate us, don’t hate us (somebody say “Duh!”), and seeing the word “faggot” in print will not make bashers out of folks who are supportive or indifferent to gay and lesbian (queer?) people.
Thanks for enjoying my column.