by Dan Savage
on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 3:03 PM
Gay people abuse drugs, alcohol, and tobacco at higher rates than straight people do. We also commit suicide at higher rates. The haters on the religious right argue that these higher rates of self-harming behaviors are proof that the gay "lifestyle" is inherently dangerous and unhealthy. And since legalizing same-sex marriage or banning anti-gay job discrimination might result in more people choosing the unhealthy gay "lifestyle"—because being gay is a choice—society should discriminate against gay people for their own good.
So... the haters only discriminate against us because they love us and want us to be happy and healthy. See how that works?
The haters have it backwards. It's not that self-hatred in many gay people causes personally-destructive behavior. It's that the external hatred all gay people have to endure—discrimination, oppression, bigotry, and rejection by family members poisoned by "faith"—can lead to substance abuse, punishing sexual excess, and suicide. Being gay doesn't damage us. It's the way we are treated for being gay that leaves many of us damaged. Johann Hari said it best:
Being subjected to bullying and violence as children and teenagers makes gay people unusually vulnerable to depression and despair. The homophobes then use that depression and despair to claim that homosexuality is inherently a miserable state—and we shouldn’t do anything that might “encourage" it. They create misery, and then use it as a pretext to create even more misery.
Exactly. And new research shows that equality—not discrimination—makes gay people happier and healthier. (And yet the same folks who've insisted that they oppose equality for gay people because they worry about our health and happiness aren't coming out for marriage equality. Strange.)
I've been out for a while and I've seen my share of damaged gay dudes destroy themselves. Watching a friend drink himself to death or drug himself to death or fuck himself to death—or all three-at-once himself to death—isn't pretty. And here's something I've noticed about the self-hating, self-destructing gay guys I've known: it wasn't good enough for them to destroy only themselves. They had to destroy other gay men too. Using meth wasn't enough—they wanted their friends to use meth too. Abusing alcohol wasn't enough—they insisted that their friends match them drink-for-drink. And spinning out of control sexually wasn't enough—they wanted their friends to join them down at the bathhouse. (And for the record: having been damaged by hate and homophobia as a child explains but it doesn't excuse self-destructive behaviors in adulthood. You're responsible for the choices you make.)
Which kindasorta brings me to my recent dustup with GOProud. The hard-right gay Republican organization—a rightwing front group that exists to pinkwash the GOP—endorsed Mitt Romney last week. Romney, of course, opposes marriage equality. Romney supports DOMA. Romney has pledged to write anti-gay bigotry into the U.S. Constitution. Romney opposed the repeal of DADT. Romney opposes the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Romney opposes adoptions by same-sex couples. GOProud's endorsement of Romney, while not a surprise, was annoying, and it prompted me to send out this tweet: "The GOP's house faggots grab their ankles, right on cue. Pathetic." The boys at GOProud accused me of using a hate term and claimed that I had bullied them. For the record, boys, this is what the bullying of an adult looks like. Politically-active adults taking the piss out of each other—and you guys have called me all sorts of lovely names—isn't bullying. And "faggot" is a word I've used to describe myself (on MSNBC!), it's a term I've used to describe my husband (in books!), it's a term my friends and I use to describe each other (all the time!). "Faggot" isn't an insult in my book—that's why I had to stick the word "house" in front of it.
Anyway, mixing it up with GOProud last week got me thinking about why a gay man would endorse—much less "commit significant resources" to help elect—a man who has pledged, if elected, to do as much harm as he possibly can to gay people. I mean, what kind of faggot supports a politician who would do him harm?
Oh, right: the same kind of faggot who would harm himself with drugs or alcohol or sex. The kind of gay men who don't like themselves or other gay people much. But while most self-loathing, self-destructive gay men are content to abuse booze, drugs, or dick, the self-hating GOProud boys abuse themselves with politics. And just like gay meth addicts who aren't satisfied harming only themselves, the boys at GOProud aren't satisfied harming only themselves. They want to harm other gay people—they want to harm all gay people—by getting Mitt Romney elected. And just like your meth-addicted friend who pushed the drug on you, or your drunk friend who mocked you for stopping at four, or your sexually out-of-control friend who insisted that you were a prude if you didn't play the come dump with him down at the bathhouse, the GOProud boys want you to abuse yourself the same way that they're abusing themselves. They want you to vote for Mitt Romney for the same reason your meth-addicted pal wanted you to use that stupid drug.
Because they're damaged.
UPDATE: GOProud co-founder Chris Barron tweets...
No, Chris, I'm not saying gay conservatives are like meth addicts. I'm saying you guys at GOProud are like meth addicts. Please don't hide behind honorable, consistent conservatives. (Of which there are precious few these days.) I happen to believe a a person can be politically conservative—for smaller government, personal responsibility, a strong defense (all of which Obama has actually delivered, you ingrates)—without being a self-hating chump or so politically and personally self-destructive that he can be compared to a meth addict. Andrew Sullivan is a political conservative and I would never compare him to a self-hating, self-destructive meth addict. (And not just because we're buddies.) The LCR guys—who declined to endorse George H. W. Bush in '92, because he wouldn't condemn rightwing anti-gay rhetoric, and who didn't endorse George W. Bush in '04 because the younger Bush supported the Federal Marriage Amendment—can't be compared to meth addicts either. But you guys? Yes, that's a comparison that can be made. Just was, in fact, and I'm going to go right on making it.
Romney, the pol you guys just endorsed, backs the FMA. Endorsing him was methy of you guys, Chris, very, very methy.
UPDATE 2: Chris Barron is now attempting to hide behind all gays everywhere:
No, Chris, I didn't compare gays to alcoholics. I compared self-destructive gays to self-destructive gays. You gotta be politically dense to back a party that opposes your civil equality, I realize, but do you really expect us to believe you're plain ol' dense dense?