Dan Savage, Chill With Your Race Baiting

Dan Savage just won’t give up pimping that thoroughly discredited meme about the Prop 8 loss in Ca-lee-forn-ia.


“I do know this, though: 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.

“This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever. Finally, I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8.”

Damn, just when we thought the drama over Prop 8 had subsided a bit, here comes Savage pouring gasoline on the smoldering embers.

Yo Dan, you want fries and A1 sauce to go with your roasted shorts?

From where I, other Black GLBT people and our allies sit, you’re part of the racist gay white male club. You definitely need to attend one of those anti-racism training sessions you trashed at the 2010 Creating Change Conference in Dallas February 3-7..

Get this through your thick head. African-Americans make up only 9% of the total population of California. We’re significantly concentrated in just five counties, Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego. Prop 8 won by a half a million votes.

If we were as powerful a voting bloc as you claim, Gray Davis would have survived his 2003 recall vote, Tom Bradley would have been elected governor of California in 1982 and Ronald Reagan would have never set foot in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento..

How do you explain Alameda County (Oakland) voting AGAINST Prop 8, especially since there are lots of chocolate flavored folks living there?

But I and the African-American GLBT community are more than a little sick of your race baiting attacks on our community. It’s got our allies concerned and is pissing off our supporters in the African-American community as well..

I guess it escaped your attention that some of your major legislative supporters have been members of the Congressional Black Caucus such as the current chair of the CBC, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and civil rights icon Rep John Lewis (D-GA).

You’ve also had consistent support from Julian Bond, the late Coretta Scott King, California NAACP chair Alice Huffman.and other African-American leaders who see this just as I do as a civil rights issue.

We have our knuckleheads such as Bishop Harry Jackson and his sellout minister friends who are doing the dirty work of the Traditional Values Coalition as card carrying members of the Forces of Intolerance. Black GLBT people and bloggers have just as forcefully called them out as I’m doing to your soon to be shorts eating behind right now.

But as many of us continue to point out, the righteous anger you have needs to be focused on the people who were responsible for Prop 8’s crafting, collecting the signatures to get it on the California ballot, financing the campaign and who voted for it.

And those people disproportionately share your ethnic heritage.

And hello, did it not occur to your vanilla flavored privileged behind that there are Black GLBT people in groups such as the National Black Justice Coalition who are busting their behinds to get marriage equality passed?.

The GL community has failed at intersectionality, cultivating and being good allies and cracking down on the racism within the GLBT family that causes discourse. It has also failed at crafting a pro marriage equality message that resonates in my community because of the lack of melanin in the GL community leadership ranks.

While I have seen some slight improvements recently on those fronts, we still have a long way to go


In addition, the constant pushing of the ‘we’re just like you’ message and holding out affluent white gay men as the standard bearers for the community is a factor leading into why there’s so much right wing pushback against GLBT rights besides the yuck factor and faith based homophobia.

The ‘we’re just like you’ message, especially when being articulated by white gay males is interpreted by Black people in the context of our historic centuries old animosity rooted in slavery.

And I can’t and won’t forget as a transperson fighting for my community’s civil rights that some of the people opposed to trans inclusion in the GL community, the movement we helped start, ENDA, hate crimes and other civil rights legislation over the last 40 years have been white gay males.

So when Savage’s HBO television show cranks up, my television will be tuned to another channel since it’s obvious he has no regard or respect for my African-American community or his Black GLBT/SGL allies.

But seriously Dan, chill with the race baiting. It’s so 20th century. .


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28 Responses to Dan Savage, Chill With Your Race Baiting

  1. Nicole says:

    Racist and transphobic, sounds like he is a real role model for the GLBT community.

  2. murphy says:

    Your message is right on overall, but I’m pretty sure Dan Savage only made that comment once, the day after Prop 8 passed, and has been slowly backing away from it (without apologizing, natch) ever since. Is there an updated link I don’t know about?

  3. I don’t believe Savage ever apologized for race baiting (that I’m aware of), but even within a week of the election he had shifted the blame for Prop 8’s passing onto the Mormon church, and “Obama voters who also voted for Prop 8″ including the folks who decided that the chickens and calves needed more spacious cages (indicating upper-class white liberals) but that 18,000 married gay couples in California needed to be forcibly divorced. I re-listened to the opening rant of his first podcast after the election and he didn’t mention race as a factor once.

    I have ZERO problem holding his feet to the fire to get a formal apology if he hasn’t issued one yet, but I think that it’s important to note that he didn’t say that yesterday, and that he did back off from that position to focus the blame on where it belonged.

  4. chava says:

    I’ve never heard or read Dan Savage apologize for ANYTHING, actually, he seems to have an objection to the concept.

  5. rachel says:

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that anti-gay whites did more damage during the Prop 8 fight than anti-gay blacks….by far….

    This Savage guy, I’ve heard of him around but not paid him any attention. looks like he doesn’t really deserve it, so that’s a good thing…

  6. Sarah TX says:

    but I think that it’s important to note that he didn’t say that yesterday

    I think this is getting press because Savage is getting a TV show. Renee over at Womanist Musings posted his comment to bring up the fact that Savage does not represent the whole of GLBT culture – he only represents White GLTB. Sort of like Human Rights Campaign, actually…

  7. Renee says:

    Backing away from a statement is not the same as apologizing for what he said. The fact that he can continue on and even be rewarded with his own HBO special in the aftermath is a reflection of his privilege.

  8. bellareve says:

    Thanks for this. My respect for Dan has been wearing thin for a while. Racist, and transphobic (I think he had a recent column saying that trans people have an obligation to disclose their medical history to potential sex partners) along with fatphobic (people who gain weight in relationships should consent to non-monogamy or else accept being deserted), biphobic (bi guys apparently don’t exist), ableist (see his use of the word “retard” from a while back) and misogynist (his typical “vaginas are gross to gay guys”).

    It actually enrages me that so many feminists either buy his bullshit wholesale, OR selectively dismiss certain comments because he “apologized” or “didn’t mean it that way” or “was being snarky, not serious.” Either way, lgbt and kinky folks deserve a better sex-positive columnist.

  9. Pingback: Equality for Attractive White People! « 24 Percent

  10. AnonymousCoward says:

    Yes, Savage should absolutely apologize for this, along with other equally offensive comments. However, if he’s not still making this argument, he *has* given up “pimping the meme”; he just hasn’t remedied his past arguments in its favor.

    As happy as I am to see a relatively kink-positive voice getting a televised forum to be kink-positive, it’d be nice if that voice weren’t someone with so many downsides.

  11. chocolatepie says:

    I have a lot of problems with Dan Savage that have been expressed very eloquently by bellareve, so I won’t repeat them. Gay white males still have white male privilege, and when your privilege is showing, you should be called out on it, regardless of how oppressed you are in some other area.

  12. factcheckme says:

    “Gay white males still have white male privilege, and when your privilege is showing, you should be called out on it, regardless of how oppressed you are in some other area.”

    very much agreed. i would call readers’ attention to the recent “liberal” bloggers (read: young white males) smear campaign against glen beck, who admittedly is no friend to gays, blacks, women or anyone else either. but the “liberal” white males decided that this would be funny: starting a rumor that beck “raped and murdered a young girl in 1990″ and leaving beck and his followers to prove that the rumor *wasnt* true. what a delightfully misogynist mental exercise! ugh. i have made it my business to start calling this stuff out as i see it. the link is to the article i wrote on that issue, including links to the sexist “liberal” glen beck rumormongering. thanks for the article.

    http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/liberal-bloggers-laugh-at-rape/

  13. Tracey says:

    I have officially placed Savage in the same column as Perez Hilton, James Kirchick, and Andrew Sullivan.

  14. Sahara says:

    Oops just saw Renee’s post – holy moly some of the comments!

  15. Jesurgislac says:

    murphy: Your message is right on overall, but I’m pretty sure Dan Savage only made that comment once, the day after Prop 8 passed, and has been slowly backing away from it (without apologizing, natch) ever since. Is there an updated link I don’t know about?

    Yeah. Dan Savage repeated his comments in March about how black voters in California were responsible for the passing of Prop 8 and that he wanted (a white guy who’d made racist comments, you understand, a real expert) to talk about the “homophobia in the black community”. It wasn’t in Savage Love but in Slog, so you may have missed it, but it was ugly. He has in no way “backed away from” his racist comments. I’m not surprised he’s got a TV show: sell-outs usually find it easier.

  16. Axiomatic says:

    Factcheckme, could you please explain how that’s mysogynistic?

  17. factcheckme says:

    “Factcheckme, could you please explain how that’s mysogynistic?”

    sure. because privileged, white men are laughing at images of women being raped and murdered, and michelle obama being lynched. thats not funny. to even be able to view rape, murder and lynching from a position of distance and non-emotion demonstrates male privilege, and white privilege. they are making political satire out of things that only affect women and minorities. it has never, and will never affect them, except as the perpetrators of such atrocities. all those things make what these lefty liberal male bloggers are doing both racist and sexist. in other words “their privilege is showing.”

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  19. William says:

    he only represents White GLTB. Sort of like Human Rights Campaign, actually…

    HRC really only supports their own continued existence at this point. Late to the marriage movement, millions down the drain on an expensive new office complex, and pretty much blind to POCs, and after all these years still unable to pass even basic legislation with the kind of cash they’ve had coming in. Fuck ’em.

  20. Axiomatic says:

    factcheckme: I believe you are entirely and wholly mistaken. Specifically, you are mistaken about what the funny part of the joke is. The idea of someone, be that person Glenn Beck or no, raping and murdering a woman is not funny. It’s also not what the joke is about.

    The joke is the creation of a fabricated rumor with no evidence to back it up, and then demanding that the target of the smear disprove the rumor. This is Beck’s favorite tactic, and it is now being used against him as a demonstration of how fallacious such reasoning is. The reason they chose “raped and murdered a woman” as the thing Beck is accused of is because it is hoped that everyone can agree that raping and murdering women is a bad thing.

    It’s often quite hard to find things you and any random person from the opposite side of the political spectrum both agree are bad, so naturally you go for the most extreme thing you can think of, in the hopes that SURELY even the other side MUST AGREE that this, at least, is definitely bad.

    I can’t comment on the Michelle being lynched thing, since I don’t know what it’s about, but I suspect the reasoning behind it is similar. “surely we all agree that lynching people (whether they are Michelle Obama or any other person, for that matter!) is bad, therefore any line of reasoning which ends with you lynching Michelle Obama must be pretty horrible reasoning.”

    Let’s not get into the whole “Only woman can be raped!” thing. There is too great a danger of derailing the discussion, and I can see how “but what about the mennnnnn, they can be raped too!” could get annoying to listen to after a while. Still, for my own conscience’s satisfaction, here is my token protest to your statement that only women can ever be affected by rape.

  21. chava says:

    Jokes about rape aren’t funny. I don’t really care about where “the funny part of the joke is,” or how distasteful the man being affected by the prank is. You’re still using women’s bodies to make a political point.

  22. eastsidekate says:

    Re: Glenn Beck– it’s always refreshing to see a thread about a white guy’s racial privilege turn into a discussion over how a different white guy is a victim of something else. Just sayin’

    Other than that, I can’t add much that Monica and other posters haven’t already said. I do love the point that most Mormons are white, though. I’m sure most readers recognize the absurdity of blaming LGBT white folks for the actions of conservative white Christians. That said, it is telling that there are a lot of people out there that don’t seem to understand that there are multiple people of color who, shockingly, don’t all believe in exactly the same thing. I suppose that learning about other cultures and races is a lot more difficult than confusing all POC for Donnie McLurkin. Treating people like individuals is taxing, no?

  23. Cedar says:

    Re: Glenn Beck– it’s always refreshing to see a thread about a white guy’s racial privilege turn into a discussion over how a different white guy is a victim of something else. Just sayin’

    ZING. I was wondering how that had anything to do with anything–now I know.

    Factcheckme, maybe you ought to fact check your [White] Women Have it Worse Than Black Men!! post.

    If we were as powerful a voting bloc as you claim, Gray Davis would have survived his 2003 recall vote, Tom Bradley would have been elected governor of California in 1982 and Ronald Reagan would have never set foot in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento.

    Oooohhh, please? Can we live in that world instead?

  24. Tina says:

    I’m confused. I can see why it’s bad to pretend that black voters are an undifferentiated mass of homophobia when many are nonhomophobic, gay, or both, but wasn’t what he said true?

    I mean I just can’t think of an instance when a majority of gay voters acted to strip basic civil rights from blacks? Can you?

    The only part of this statement that bothers me is that it pretends black voters are homophobic because they’re black and not because of the higher prevalence of Christianity and lower formal education.

  25. Rosasharn says:

    “along with fatphobic (people who gain weight in relationships should consent to non-monogamy or else accept being deserted)”

    That’s an interesting twist of his argument, which is actually that if somone’s appearance drastically changes in a relationship, their partner will probably no longer be attracted to them. It’s not fatphobic to say that if someone goes from a size 6 to a size 16, especially while their partner maintains whatever their initial weight is, their partner might cheat on them or “desert” them by finding someone they’re attracted to anymore than it’s transphobic to say that transitioning might cause your partner to leave you.

    misogynist (his typical “vaginas are gross to gay guys”)

    I think vulvas and penises are gross. Does that make me misogynist and misandrist?

  26. Delux says:

    “and not because of the higher prevalence of Christianity and lower formal education.”

    I’m convinced one of the reasons that discussions of Black folks’ allegedly more severe (than who?) homophobia are so popular among (white) progressives is that they allow people to engage in racialized and stereotype-based pronouncements and speculation that would be considered deeply inappropriate in any other topics.

    Its almost like there arent any other religious people of any other colors who might have been manipulated by the well placed media campaign put forward by the prop 8 campaign.

  27. Katie says:

    Tina, your comment is really racist. Also, ill-informed. Read the links.

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