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People who do a lot of work in the community organizations do it to make the world a better and safer place, so the events that you mention DON'T take place.

Many times, Dan, you have been scathing about those people and their work, as if there was no need, and they were not to be appreciated at all.

Welcome to eppithany. Seems you looked up and saw the light.

The right wing is real, and GLBT folks are in their jaws. I have feared criminalization and camps for my entire life. Would Ann Coulter support a camp for Dan Savage, and friends, for the crime of deviancy? You bet.

Of course, Seattle and other urban centers are havens, but violence can rock even such places.

Is it time to stop kicking each other around so much and focus on our enemies and the need to work for change from every quarter? Counter point to all that venom, our only vaccine.

I think so.

Posted by caleb | March 3, 2007 11:22 AM

caleb: WTF are you talking about?!?!?

Posted by Mike in MO | March 3, 2007 11:26 AM

Sorry Mike, What the fuck does not get my attention this morning, and on my way to an organizing meeting.

If you read the post carefully I think it is pretty clear.

GLBT folks have real enemies, always have had. They would be really mean given half a chance. Need to quit fighting each other so much, bickering, insulting, no co operation --- and look the ENEMY in the eye, together.

Better strategy in still dangerous and potentially violent times.

Posted by caleb | March 3, 2007 11:47 AM

Dan, the woman in Largo Florida is "she." Get it straight. You keep getting it backwards - she wants the op because she is _already_ a woman.

Many transMEN don't bother with genital surgery because it doesn't do a very good job. Would you call a transman who has chosen not to get that op "she"? Get a clue.

Quit focusing on penises, ok?

Posted by Sachi | March 3, 2007 11:54 AM

so people shouldn't critique others who are trying for the same goals, no matter how ineffective it may be? that's absurd. if a friend of yours was trying to dig a hole, and his method was banging his head against a wall, you would tell him it's not working, right?

the fact remains that tv, movies, and such tend to give gay people a false sense of security. even all the people i hang out with (mostly straight people), leave me with the idea that barely anyone is against gay marriage. then you see the stats.

Posted by konstantConsumer | March 3, 2007 11:55 AM

Dan -

I agree with you that recent events you list aren't mere coincidence.

I also believe that fund raising letters like this one also contribute to the dehumanization of non-hets (copied from a post at Huffington):

"If we can raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week, we can show that bigotry will only backfire on those who use it. John is not the first progressive leader to face this kind of slime, but together, we can make sure he is one of the last.

Tonight, I've put in 100 bucks of "Coulter Cash" to get us started. Can you match me, or chip in whatever you can afford? Just click here:

David Bonior
Campaign Manager
John Edwards for President"

The Edwards campaign is upset that he was insulted. Do they give one hairy shit about anyone that is not a politician that is harrassed or threatened this way?

Does that fund raising letter say ONE WORD in reference to any of the current events you list in your post?

This is nothing new, unfortunately, and it never fails to make me want to puke. What do you have to say about Edwards' - and the rest of the candidates responses or lack thereof?

Please don't let them off the hook when the election is 20 long months away.

Posted by Patrick | March 3, 2007 12:31 PM

The point is that hate-mongers encourage violence even if they themselves are legitimately appalled by that violence. Hate-mongers with a shred of decency somewhere inside them eventually realize this and are ashamed. Then there's the other kind.

The other kind are in ascendance these days.

And I'm a little worried myself, although I'm not gay, because I sometimes wear pink pants. Lemon yellow, celery green; I'm a target.

Posted by Fnarf | March 3, 2007 12:32 PM

It's a structural problem for the right. Neoliberalism and *family values* (i.e. the forced indoctrination of innocent children) don't mix well. The inconsistency can't be bridged theoretically. The government should either keep it's nose out of private affairs and should legislate to maximize individual freedoms (neoliberalism) or it should meddle in individual lives by using legislation to create a particular moral climate (christian moralism). It can't do both at the same time.
Ever since the unholy alliance of neoliberals and the christian right began the contradiction has been solved by a slight of hand. You make your family values rhetoric really extreme so that no one notices the underlying contradiction. If you are loud enough and brassy enough in your advocacy of the xenophobic traditions of 19th century american protestant christianity, no one asks why you hold those views, and you don't have to try to address the contradiction.
By the way has anyone else noted that the the bile belt has been plagues by a lot fo acts of god lately? Ellen hosted the Oscars, yet no sunami struck LA. Meanwhile godfearing Alabama has been ripped apart by killer tornadoes.

Posted by kinaidos | March 3, 2007 12:55 PM

You're right, Dan.

There's a chill in the air, and as a Michigan resident it's all too real. The senseless murder of the Detroiter and the resulting sound of crickets chirping leave me at a loss. Add that to the recent appeals court ruling here that outlaws health benefits for partners of lgbt state employees, and it just feels all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

My partner and I realized just recently that we never leave Ann Arbor because we don't feel safe outside of the bubble.

But do we feel safe anywhere? I've tried to have conversations with people about how there's a toxicity towards lgbt folks, and I speak specifically about Michigan. And I hate feeling fearful. But Michigan lgbt advocacy organizations seem to me to be terribly flat footed, and many politicians are much too quiet. It's not apparent that people are standing up against the bigotry. And *that's* what scares me the most.

Posted by Matt in MIchigan | March 3, 2007 1:16 PM

kc -

It is one thing to have a constructive conversations which says this is not working well, and take steps to do it better, and another to insult, name call and deride the work of others.

Case in point, i do not want to work with the business community in any sense. GSBA does that very well, I compliment their work and good results.

I work in lefty groups. I think that is very important.

Other people work in the women's movement - NAARL, NOw, etc - great.

I share DAN's feeling that there has been a shift, a backlash. My circles have been talking about it for a year.

We don't live in one of those states where they had a giant campaign about gay marriage, but I suspect much of this is fallout from that issue.

Better work, more respect, and the enemy is the far right who have moved farther right, now operating from the danger zone for us.

Right wing organizing uses scapegoating a lot. Lessons from far right earlier era Germany tells us it works.

Posted by caleb | March 3, 2007 1:37 PM


Nice to vent, but already tiresome, and off target.

Somewhere down the road the Dems will nominate, as will the R's.


Our collective enemy, and I mean enemy, is the horrid and rampant homophobia encased in the far right and those far righters live and opine in full sway in the Republican party.

Posted by hilda | March 3, 2007 1:51 PM




Posted by Freddy | March 3, 2007 1:59 PM

This article chills me to the bone and reminds me with a sharp prod why I left the states with my US lover to set up home in the UK. While we were in the US as a bi national couple (me UK citizen, she US citizen) we had NO protection what so ever. No way to legally protect the life that we were trying to build. When my company was acquired by a large multinational that did not recognize same sex partners for benefit purposes (because it's not important) we knew we had to take the opportunity afforded to us and leave. It took 8 months of visa applications and $1000s to ship our modest household to the UK but we did it. Within 3 months we had a house, decent jobs which we found ourselves, not using our network, and in 2 years, once we prove our relationship is real to the immigration authorities (something all all gay/straight couples have to go through,)we can have a civil partnership. This will mean REAL, legal recognition for our relationship, something we could NEVER have in the US. We did leave behind friends and family, good jobs, nice big American house etc and many people in the UK can't understand why we would chose to leave this American life behind. It's hard to explain and some mornings when I am struggling through the rain to the tube station, i forget. BUT, when I read awful stuff like this, when our new mortgage advisor doesn't give a shit that we are gay, when our new neighbours are cool, when the bank has a special tick box for partner, when I know that we can have a civil partnership in the local town hall. It makes it all worthwhile. That's not to say everything is perfect, the UK suffers from a degree of homophobia, but it is nowhere near as awful as it is getting in the States.

Posted by Feebee | March 3, 2007 2:01 PM

caleb> I read your post "carefully", and it is still not clear. You don't reference any examples of Dan's name calling, etc. I read Dan regularly, and I can't recall him proclaiming ar even implying that there was no need for advocacy. I do recall plenty of examples of him pointing out hypocrisy, highlighting dangerous trends, etc.

As far as the percieved scathing criticism, konstantConsumer said it best. We can be on the same side and have our opinions about each other at the same time. It doesn't mean Dan is on Coulter's side. Stop imagining things and just say, "thanks for the great post."

Finally, WT *FUCK* does "eppithany" mean? I think you were trying for "epiphany".

Posted by Mike in MO | March 3, 2007 2:02 PM

fwiw: usually as groups get smaller, the more extreme their message becomes, not that said groups are innocuous or less dangerous(often the reverse), but out of desperation the core of their beliefs(hatred and fear) are revealed.

it then becomes a matter of who buys into buys into baser instincts, and the pandering of fear, and who will oppose such hateful, divisive and dangerous rhetoric, before it becomes worse.

Posted by polysci 101 | March 3, 2007 2:30 PM

Perhaps MO is really as bad as we think it is in Seattle.

Dan has used a very poison pen many times in Seattle, no need to rehash all that.

He certainly is not on the same side as Ann Coulter, I did not even mean to imply that. Scheez.

An effective united effort to fight the right is what I am talking about, and not worrying about a very good and illustrative word not correctly spelled.

Think a bit more Mike, you are flaky if in the midst of a political discussion all you see is spelling errors on a Blog board...... and must throw that in the face of a gay brother to make some obscure ego point.....kinda of what I am talking about. Geez.

There have been some battles with the right in the mid west - tell us about that from your very well placed perspective.

Posted by caleb | March 3, 2007 2:54 PM

I thought 677 was a bad idea--and said so. And I was right, and I have never been forgiven for being right about that. I think Gay City, which I helped found, is ineffective. Our goal, when we founded it, was to cut HIV transmissions in half. That didn't happen, which means Gay City has been ineffective. I thought the gay pride parade should have moved downtown--I wrote that the one on the hill was moribund and dull, and it needed to go to Seattle Center. When I wrote that, I was told I couldn't criticize if I didn't get involved. Then, once I got involved, I was told I had no right to be involved, since I had this platform in the Stranger that made me all-powerful. I think a lot of the message pumped out by HIV groups over the years have been counter-productive. And I've said so. There's my poison pen.

But if you've read the stuff I've written on gay rights in the Stranger, New York Times, and other places, it's clear whose side I'm on. Sheesh.

Suck my dick, Caleb.

Posted by Dan Savage | March 3, 2007 3:01 PM

Well, I'm in the midwest, so let me jump in.

The 2004 anti-gay marriage ballot initiative was disastrous in Michigan. And just as disastrous? The attempt to fight it. In the run-up to the election we had an organization, bless them, trying to oppose it with little money and, some might say, with some not-so-good direction. They had us on the phones calling people to say that gay marriage was ALREADY illegal, so we didn't need to have an amendment. Additionally, we had weak-kneed Democrats on the national level TERRIFIED of supporting the gays. That trickled down to a weak-kneed state-level Democratic Party that officially encouraged Democrats in Michigan to educate themselves. They didn't urge us to vote no. Let that one sink in for a bit.

Now, I'm a Dem through and through. I've done local organizing and tried to help the lgbt caucus. But b/c of family illness I've not been able to help as much as I'd like.

Where I think we failed was in not being up front about the issue. This isn't about "saving" marriage. This is about wrongly vilifying a tiny minority of people for societal ills and then using the ballot box to punish the minority. That's it, plain and simple. It's digusting, and it's wrong. And people need to stand up to it.

Recently the appeals court ruled that b/c of the anti-gay amendment the partners of lgbt state employees can't get benefits. And our lgbt organizations appeared surprised. They've been doing some good work recently, but there apparently has been NO groundwork since 2004 to counter the anti-gay ballot initiative. None. That surprises me.

Posted by Matt in MIchigan | March 3, 2007 3:11 PM

At the risk of accidentally involving Godwin's Law...

The idea behind this post reminded me a bit of the book Hitler's Willing Executioners in claiming political movements can take advantage of ignorance, apathy, fear and declining fortunes to focus hatred on cultural scape goats. Clearly our time is very different from early 1930's Germany. Even so, Dan's point logically follows: If a political movement keeps blaming a minority for "serious" problems, won't they eventually do something about this group? I've always found comparisons like this a bit over the top. Now I'm not so sure...

Much of the controversy (about gay couples' raising children, getting married, sexual practices and so on) is manufactured. Any rational or objective approach has shown there to be no real issue or problem. The arguments made are inherently irrational, appealing to the baser and more dangerous aspects of human beings.

Posted by golob | March 3, 2007 3:24 PM

I'd rather have a 100 Dan Savages than one self-absorbed, paranoid, self-appointed "activist" who gets on a high horse about his/her moral superiority.

Pre-Stranger, this "community" had a lot of tiresome sacred cows who we were were never supposed to question: Pompous asses who had their niches, and bullied people into keeping their mouths shut. The SGN was cahoots with them, and the whole result made for a boring scene.

Do I agree with the Stranger or with Dan on every issue? No. But he has opened up a lot of topics for conversation that were never bought up before, and made Seattle a much more interesting place.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | March 3, 2007 3:26 PM

Dan, you are awesome!

And for the record, MO is as bad as you think. But the cost of living is tiny :)

Posted by Mike in MO | March 3, 2007 3:27 PM

Thanks Dan, but no thanks, have all I need of dick sucking at home.

I was not here at the I677 era, but have talked about it a lot in political circles.

And since you want to go there, will do.

From what I gather there really is no wash with you not being in favor of the idea, strategy, planning, etc.... There were mixed reactions in many quarters it seems. BUT no body but you went on the radio, along side right wingers, and said in print as well, to the voting public, " VOTE AGAINST IT" once it made the ballot.

Did it make you feel really good after the vote to know you helped the right wing defeat an excellently worded state wide GAY rights bill? For me and all those I have ever talked about on the topic, that was over the top and not cool at all.

I am delighted you are now seeing the real enemy a bit more clearly now. Epiphany. I am a former Catholic as well.

Great. I've seen you on TV, you hold your own well. Debate Coulter head on.

Posted by caleb | March 3, 2007 3:35 PM

Here is another essay that we could stand to read again right now: Dan Savage in the Seattle Times after the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Christian conservatives have attempted to distance themselves from the violence visited on Matthew Shepard. They must not be allowed to do so. Conservatives like to talk about accountability, so let the religious extremists who help make anti-gay violence a daily reality for gays and lesbians across this country be held accountable. The violence in Laramie is a deadly consequence of the hateful anti-gay rhetoric and eliminationist "ex-gay" ad campaigns.

Fred Phelps, the pastor of a church in Kansas, planned to picket Shepard's funeral today. Phelps and his followers have been protesting the funerals of gay men for nearly a decade. At Shepard's funeral, they intended to carry signs that read "No Tears for Queers" and "Fag Matt in Hell." The actions of Phelps and his followers - the celebration of the elimination of a gay man - are not a distortion of the religious right's position on homosexual people but a distillation of it.

Posted by EXTC | March 3, 2007 3:38 PM

Uh... Caleb? Idjit? I urged people not to sign the petitions. Once 677 thing was on the ballot I urged people to vote for it. Why didn't I want it on the ballot? Because I knew it would not pass. And, hey, I was right.

Before 677, the gay community in Seattle argued that it was immoral to vote on the civil rights of a minority. Then we ran our own ballot initiative, asking people to... vote on the rights of a minority. I called it: It would, if it got on the ballot, fail.

Since we're digging through the Seattle Times website: here's the op-ed I wrote against the initiative--to be clear, against signing the petitions. And here's the one I wrote endorsing a "Yes" vote once the fools at HOW got it the ballot. (Something they were only able to do by paying signature gatherers, which they had sworn not to do. It didn't occur to the self-serving political geniuses running 677 that not getting the signatures was a sign that they weren't going to get the votes either.)

Anyone that told you I went on the radio and urged people to vote no on 677 once it was on the ballot is a lying sack of shit. But the HOW kids--then the "political leaders" of Seattle's gay community--were liars then, they're liars now, and sacks of shit always.

Oh, and the thing went down by nearly 20 points--that's how bad an idea it was, Caleb. The modest and, for most gays and lesbians in Washington state, redundant protections it would have afforded (now secured through the legislative process), weren't a bad idea. The strategy chosen to win them, however, was idiotic. It was a dumb political move, and it set us back, delaying the passage of the civil rights bill for years.

Posted by Dan Savage | March 3, 2007 3:59 PM

"The actions of Phelps and his followers - the celebration of the elimination of a gay man - are not a distortion of the religious right's position on homosexual people but a distillation of it."

exactly, dan got it right, take away all the other b.s., at their core is hatred, & fear of the other, the ultimate form of self absorption/vanity, buttressed and sanctified by scripture and so called "holy texts" , which are instruction manuals for ingrouping/outgrouping behavior.

the conservative tradition is one of hate; first of self, then of others which is a displaced self & easier to vilify.

Posted by polysci 101 | March 3, 2007 4:17 PM

golob @19, you hit it right on. there's this idiot i've sparred with in the comments named ryan who spews on in a typical way about why gays shouldn't have marriage (which the country isn't ready for, i'm sad to say), and you can't get a rational word out of his sort EVER about exactly HOW gay marriage will be bad for the rest of us. idiots. and they're having their way, dammit. it's so ugly.

Posted by ellarosa | March 3, 2007 6:33 PM

Me, I'm waiting for Pat Robertson, or more likely, Fred Phelps, to explain God's role in the death of those Mennonite college baseball players in the bus crash in Atlanta on Friday.

I'm sure The Gays were responsible somehow.

Posted by HL | March 3, 2007 8:03 PM

gays need to wake up. America has declared war on us and therefore we must face up to the reality that we are at risk of attack at any time. Complaining and whining will do nothing. I run 2 miles every morning and then lift weights. I sleep with a piece on my nightstand. I primarily work on my upper body to have an imposing prescence. when I walk down the street I purposefully flex my traps so that my neck just about disappears and I never smile in public. My persona says don't mess with me I am not friendly. I am not stupid, I know I am not the toughest guy in the world, but my prescence decreases the number of potential threats. My message to gays, buy a piece, keep it loaded, work out and stay alert.You may still get bashed but at least you can put the guy doing it in the hospital or the morgue.

Posted by try to bash me I dare you | March 3, 2007 11:35 PM

try to bash me-

Thanks for the post. All the political infighting in Seattle is a silly waste of time. And the name calling is juvenile.

I have a shotgun by the door at home. If ever I really thought someone was at my house to attack me, I will blow them into pieces. Ten years in a bad neighborhood, no problems. But I believe in self defense, to the max.

Calling the cops with your throat cut or full of bullets is a little late.

A few years back I was walking on a main street in Seattle with a very big strong friend, shit house built, he is as nelly as can be, a flaming queen.

A car pulled up and these teen age guys started to taunt him out the window.

He picked up a 2 X 4 which happened to be in a pile of garbage at the curb, bashed out their headlight and started on the top of the car and the windshield. These big mouthed phobes pulled out at the light change like the devil was after them.

It was great. I knew he had strong opinions but didn't have a clue he was fearless and didn't take shit at all.

He moved to Hollywood and made a fortune writing stuff for movies.

Self defense, you bet.

Posted by bob | March 4, 2007 1:56 AM

Dan -- You can get the complete NYer on cd or hard drive -- here's the CD link

Posted by jonathan | March 4, 2007 5:38 AM

I used to think that as I grew older, I would be less subject to anti-gay harassment. By and large, that seems to be the case. Mostly because older men blend in to the background more than young good-looking men or young men that have other eye catching characteristics. So it's always a sad reality check when I read about a gay senior citizen being beaten.

Posted by Chip Chipmunk | March 4, 2007 11:00 AM

According to caleb, in "gay political circles" gay political types claim Savage urged people to vote against a gay rights ballot measure, going so far as to appear on right-wing radio "along side right wingers" and saying in print to "VOTE AGAINST IT."

And after telling these lies these gay political types, with their poison mouths, wonder why Savage isn't inclined to throw them roses in his paper? Could it that Seattle's gay leaders are even dumber than even Dan Savage would have us believe?

Posted by EXTC | March 4, 2007 2:55 PM

I find it ironic that in the Florida case (firing the transexual city manager), the police officer's name was Butch and one of the city commissioners is named Gay.

Posted by him | March 5, 2007 2:35 PM

I think times are bad for gays and transsexuals, but then, that's not new. Gay people have been beaten to death or harassed for years. Things actually got much worse a few years ago in places like NYC, and are calming down now. Palm Beach, South Beach, etc. seem to be getting worse for gays, which is unfortunate. I think the "that's so gay" taunt used in schools and the media's persistence in telling kids that gay = sick and disgusting has caused young people to be more anti-gay. But I do think that progress is being made and I don't think these incidents are a sign of any new backlash. The backlash is what was already there.

As for the transsexual in Largo, keep in mind that this man, when the news broke, had a huge job helping to run an entire city. That is unprecedented in America, for someone in that position to come out as becoming transgender. We can't say that's a sign of some new bias, that he was fired, because we don't have any real history there.

Posted by Jon | March 6, 2007 12:30 AM

The growing trend towards hatred is chilling on it's own, reguardless of it's specific consequences towards the GLBT crowd. Growing up in the last 15 years (I'm 20 this year, but as we all know you're not really awake those first five years) I've become increasingly aware at just how much things have changed since I was younger. People seem more...paranoid now. Yes, a lot of it seemed to start with 9/11, but even before that, there was the fear...

Not just a fear by gays of hate crimes commited against them, but an even more prominent fear of The Different. The Others. It seems our society is being increseingly divided between the norm and the different, more so than any time after the 50's. What once was a fear of Black Americans, Native Americans, and the general "foreigner", is now a fear of the Gay, the Religiously Different, and the general "liberal".

I think the worst thing we can do is be silent, but the next worse thing we can do is dehumanize our opposition. They are not The Enemy, as much as your fear would like you to believe. They are your neighbor, your boss, your coworker, your teacher. They are the girl behind the counter, the man at the coffee stand, and the woman behind you in the grocery line. Like your friends, they too are everywhere. They are, despite some assertions, your fellow Americans, twisted ideals and all.

So, despite their actions against us, we should not act out violently. That does not mean we should not act out! We need to speak up, more so now than ever before. It's not just other gays who are your friends, it's your neighbor, your boss, your coworker. Its the straight couple down the hall and the trans-man sitting next to you on the downtown bus. I don't think fear of "their" hatred should be what spurrs us to words, I think it should be a desire to come to a peaceful, common ground. We cannot live peacefully in this society until it accepts us, and until we accept them.

I'm not gay myself. If you were to describe me in a very basic way, you might make a false assumption about my loyalties, because I am a straight female Christian. But I believe in love, not hate, and I think that that is the best answer above all. Love, and the will to continue speaking out against violence and unjustice.

Ah, but then, maybe I just read too much about Ghandi, or Christ. :) Or I've read Savage Love one too many times...

And this post probably lost its point somewhere in the middle, but it's 3AM on a work night, so can you blame me?

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