Saturday, October 9, 2010
And here is the post that I found incredibly frustrating.
For those of you who don't what to read my whole post in response to Femmephane, I'll just say this: In general, Femmephane seems to think that Dan Savage's project gives false hope to youth, that it somehow undermines and overwrites the suffering of youth, and that it is a misguided exercise in general.
I couldn't disagree more. As I said below, activism is not a zero sum game. Femmephane seems to think that because Dan started a successful project that some other project necessarily loses or that queer youth are losing their voice. The whole point of the project is not to undermine the suffering of youth, but to establish a community of those that have been discriminated against and their allies. It's true that Dan's project does not actively encourage some sort of intervention in schools, but he has supported the other projects that do exactly that. He is just creating one more opportunity to reach the youth that have so far been unreachable. Maybe YouTube can help.
Side note, this kind of "more radical than thou" bullshit in the queer community really turns me off. Fuck you for being condescending to people who want to live more "normal" or conventional lives than you. That is intolerance.
This post has been circulating amongst a lot of GLBTQ blogs for some reason. I disagree with nearly everything in it.
I’ll take the points one by one to avoid righteous ranting here:
1) Neither Dan nor Terry explicitly links religion or a small town mentality with “being more bigoted”. They only use their own stories as examples. Shockingly, they experienced discrimination and bullying in religious communities and small towns. If I may offer a quote from the website americancatholic.org: “The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships”.
It is outright denying reality to believe that the majority of American Christian denominations are accepting of homosexuality, and the same goes for the majority of non-urban communities. A 1970s study in The Journal of Homosexuality found that “Respondents in the US who were willing to grant such rights to homosexuals as teaching in college, speaking in a local community, and taking out a book from a local library written by a homosexual and favorable to homosexuality, tended to be well educated, young, Jewish or nonreligious, from urban areas, raised in the Northeast or Pacific states”. You can argue that somehow this pattern has reversed, but it, ya know, hasn’t.
2) I have no idea why this is an issue for the writer. Maybe it doesn’t get better for some people. Maybe Femmephane thinks it would be better to tell kids that the rest of their lives may be miserable. I disagree.
3) He’s not assigning guilt here. Femmephane is taking one short phrase out of seven minute video and using it construct some sort of strange worldview in which Dan blames gay children for being bullied into suicide. Does the writer really believe that was his intention? Also, above I thought he was blaming religious people and small towns…
4) Ummm no. Did the writer not see the first two minutes where Dan and Terry talk about how unaccepting their families were? They aren’t overwriting anything.
5) They never encourage anyone to come out. They tell their story in which their seemingly unaccepting families managed to love both them and their partners. Also, consider once again Dan’s intended audience here. His audience is youth who are already miserable and considering killing themselves. I think it’s likely that people call them gay whether or not they have officially come out.
6) I’m going to refrain from an ad-hominem attack and suggest that perhaps Femmephane needs to examine why the fact that a happy gay couple met in a bar by using cheesy pick up line makes them want to vomit. It should not.
7) How is telling your own story overwriting youth experience? I honestly would like an explanation for this. It’s not as if story telling is a zero sum game. Is the writer suggesting that because Dan and Terry told their story one less gay youth gets to tell their story? The idiocy of this is self evident.
8) Again with the overwriting and undermining. These stories do not belittle lived pain. That is the whole point of these videos. They are supposed to be posted precisely because others understand the pain that a youth is going through and how difficult it may be to not just end it all. This seems to be a fundamental difference in the way that the writer and I understand the video. The fact that Dan and Terry are happy now does not imply that a happy ending is inevitable. The writer is making an inference with little basis. They state that it can get better. There is no inference to be made here.
9) This is one particular project of Dan’s that is intended to reach youth who are considering taking their lives because of discrimination. In his column, he has plugged the Trevor Project, suicide hotlines, etc. This is one other means of possibly reaching those youth that haven’t been reached by other means. Anecdotally, I think this project has also been raising awareness about bullying, which is the exact opposite of encouraging “privileged folks” to sit around and ignore it.
10) The writer says that “telling folks that their suffering is normal homogenizes their experience”. Dan and Terry don’t say suffering is “normal”, which implies that it is some acceptable, unchangeable, or inevitable period in a GLBTQ person’s life. They actually don’t say anything even remotely close to this. Perhaps Femmephane is saying that the project itself does this, but I disagree entirely. The videos help further a fucking community of people that have been discriminated against. If one transgender meets another transgendered person, do they feel as if their experience and identity have been “homogenized”? Do ethnic minorities feel this every time they see someone of their own background walking down the street? Pure idiocy.
As for the last three points, I think they have mostly been covered above. Treating a campaign like this as “revolutionary” does undermine anything. Femmephane is again thinking of the attempt to help queer youth as a zero sum game. It’s not a competition. Just because Dan and Terry decided to start a web project that is, just keep this in mind, targeted at youth who are considering killing themselves, does not mean that queer youth are losing their voice (or something). I covered the “lumping everyone together” in #10.