Here it is. I name names because I think this is too important.
I’m extremely disappointed. Do you really believe that Savage has as much to do with these suicides as Mohler? False equivalence won’t make things better.
“Cynicism, blame and questions are easy.”
Is that why you start your article with cynicism, blame and questions? If you don’t like Dan Savage and the “It Gets Better” project so much, why don’t you just ignore them? Or do you believe that it makes things worse for gay teenagers?
Your actual message is brief, bland and hollow. Yes, let’s say yet again that bullying is wrong – as if bullies do this because they think it’s right and biblical. In real life, people are bullied because they are different from (and inferior to) the bully. And this is why it makes sense to blame the conservative Christian world – they are the ones who are pushing the idea that homosexuality is different from (and inferior to) heterosexuality.
Andrew: Was your problem with Savage about the “It Gets Better” video outreach or his response to that letter-writer?
I am writing this comment from my phone as I’m on the bus to the airport, so I hope it actually posts!
In the article I highlighted the It Gets Better so the Christian audience would actually see it.
My problem with Savage was his response to the lady that emailed him. Savage thought he said what he needed to say to her to have the back of every LGBT person out there. Mohler said what he thought he needed to say to have the back of every conservative person out there.
Both are playing the same games with the other. Both are politicing to their own audiences to drum up more support against the other. And thus, I also believe both are just as responsible for what happened to those kids because they are both perpetuating the divided culture war and not working towards ending it – they are working towards winning it. If there was an ingrained sense of peace among division in the world with these two communities, would those kids have killed themselves? I don’t know. But I do know that they would have probably had more opportunities to reach out and have those folks they were reaching out to actually help them.
That is why I ended the my article with the example of Jesus never pouting, blaming or antagonizing. I know that for people who don’t believe in Jesus that is not applicable, but the article was posted on a site where all the readers believe in Jesus. Therefore as I said, if conservative folks are not the ones to change their medium of engagement first, why should anyone ever expect Savage to stop responding to that lady as he did?
To this conservative audience, Savage’s response was an example to bring the bigger picture to light on Mohler’s wrongful (in my opinion) engagement.
How exactly are gay people supposed to work towards ending the culture war? Are they supposed to agree that homosexuality is equivalent to murder and prostitution? What you’re missing is that gay people need someone to have their back. And what you’re doing is the opposite because you equate the aggressor and the victim.
Eugene – It is not ok to be an aggressor. Nor is it ok for the victim to become the aggressor.
It is well documented that when many of the African slaves in America got back to Africa, they implemented the exact same system and started enslaving their own people – thus the former oppressed became the oppressor. Is that right to do?
When Savage responed to that lady’s email with: F+#k your feelings (in bold on a line all by itself)…what good does that do?
Feelings are paramount to life, and motivation to seek good and justice and peace and reconciliation. Obviously feelings had a ton to do with those kids committing suicide. Should we f+#k theirs? How would that feel to their loved-ones? Feelings obviously have a lot to do with Savage’s responses. Should we F+#k his? How would he feel about that? Feelings obviously have a lot to do with your passion, and mine too. Do you think I should F+#k yours? Or because you are gay, does that mean you get to F+#k my feelings because I’m a straight evangelical?
Are you trying to continue the vicious cycle or stop it?
Explain your full logic about what I mentioned regarding oppressor/oppressed and it being ok and totally justifiable to f+#k everyone’s feelings, because I would love to hear it.
Yes, it’s not OK to be an aggressor. But it’s OK to stand up for yourself.
When Savage responded to that lady’s email, he was talking about her feelings about gay people, not her feelings in general. Naturally, gay people’s lives, dignity and well-being are more important than the lady’s “feelings” about other people. If I hurt your feelings just by existing, should I stop existing? Or should you get over your feelings?
I just don’t see how gay kids have been “oppressing” that lady. More importantly, standing up for yourself (or other people) doesn’t make you an aggressor. In fact, when you refuse to stand up to bigots and haters, you continue the vicious cycle.
It is totally ok to stand up for yourself. I have no problem with that…in fact it is needed. I don’t know. I guess the sour taste I was left after reading what he wrote and continues to do so was the feeling that I got he is doing exactly to others as he hates to have done to him. That is the reason I brought up the African slavery example.
Considering that you’re not gay, you need to be careful with your “feelings” and knee-jerk reactions – they can be very unfair. You got the feeling that Savage is “doing exactly to others as he hates to have done to him” – but is he saying that Christians shouldn’t be allowed to get married? Is he saying that Christians are no better than pedophiles? Is he saying that Christianity is a mental illness “like any other”?
He was simply standing up for gay people by pointing out the negative effects of anti-gay beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, it surely wasn’t the most productive response, but you always need to consider the nature of the conflict. Otherwise, you’ll get something like this:
“They called him fag, homo, queer,” says his mother, Jan. “He told us that.”
Bullies once knocked a pile of books out of his hands on the stairs, saying, “‘Pick up your books, faggot,'” says Dan Hughes, a friend of Eric’s.
Kids would flick him in the head or call him names, says 20-year-old Drew Juratovac, a former student. One time, a boy called Mohat a “homo,” and Juratovac told him to leave Mohat alone.
“I got up and said, ‘Listen, you better leave this kid alone. Just walk away,'” he says. “And I just hit him in the face. And I got suspended for it.”
Eric Mohat shot himself on March 29, 2007, two weeks before a choir trip to Hawaii.”
When you punish both the bully and the victim, you perpetuate bullying.
More importantly, Savage’s response wasn’t a one-liner. He elaborately explained what he meant:
“You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” gay kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we can see the fruits of it.”
The lady is an anti-gay Christian, so she is a part of the problem. Of course, it doesn’t mean that all her feelings are worthless, but she “was saddened and frustrated” with Savage’s comments “regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bulling” – and this is what Savage rightfully had a problem with. It’s as if someone punched you in the face and then told you that you hurt his feelings by crying. 🙂
Ultimately, not all “feelings” are equal. Perhaps, Savage should have said “…these feelings” instead of “…your feelings”, but he clearly meant it, anyway.
I understand your point about Savage’s response, Andrew. But I understand his point, too. And his perspective. Do you know how many times I want to respond in such a manner to comments on this blog and elsewhere? Not (necessarily 😉 ) your comments, but others here.
9 out of 10 GLBT teens report anti-gay harassment and our teens are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. And our higher suicide rates are invariably cited by conservative Christian groups as proof of our depravity. It’s what Box Turtle Bulletin terms the Denial->Degridation->Damnation cycle (source: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/10/04/26971). “It’s not our fault that gay kids are killing themselves. They kill themselves because they feel naturally ashamed of their perversion. Also, they’re vile creatures who shouldn’t be around kids.”
GLBT kids are being bullied at higher rates, we’re attempting suicide at higher rates, and frankly abuses heaped on us are being ignored at alarming rates. I’ve been reading about the physical assaults being heaped on some of these recent high-profile gay teen suicides. We’re talking about fights, being pushed down stairs, verbal assualts, school administrators ignoring and later denying parental calls about bullying. Stuff that would get any of us thrown in jail or at least hit by a restraining order if we did it anywhere else.
This type of bullying isn’t new, nor are the suicides. Dan was a victim of childhood bullying. His husband was. I was. Most gay teens were. To the point, where it’s hard to care about the feelings of people who feel like their religious beliefs were disrespected by something said in a radio interview. (Heck, my religious beliefs are routinely disrespected by folks on this blog, on Tony Jones’ blog, and elsewhere.) Hence the “f*ck your feelings — we’re talking about real kids killing themselves.
No it’s not productive, but I don’t think Savage is trying to build bridges with the Christian world. He’s long past that desire, if he ever had it. He’s trying to promote a video outreach program that gets GLBT adults to encourage bullied GLBT teens to hold on until they can get away from their abusive schools.
Ultimately, both of you are also promoting volunteer efforts with GSAs and anti-bullying programs. Maybe that connection will promote bridge-building.
“No it’s not productive, but I don’t think Savage is trying to build bridges with the Christian world.”
Actually, it may be productive in a different way. Some gay kids probably think, “If people hate me so much, maybe something is actually wrong with me”. These kids need to stop caring about other people’s “feelings”.
Jon – As always, thanks for you level-headedness 🙂 I have absolutely no problem with Savage’s It Gets Better Project. He is not trying to build any bridges, and I understand that. He is not working off of the same paradigm as I am trying to. So therefore his campaign, and for all of those working through his same filter, is trying to get a good, hopefilled message across. And I appriciate that very much. Tim Gunn’s video was POWERFUL and should be watched by every single person, regardless of who they are or what community they’re coming from:
It’s the other stuff outside of the Project that I feel is very destructive and perpetuates the disconnect and enourages a hateful stance from one to the other. That is why I said in the article, “until conservative folks are the one’s to change first, why should we expect Savage or anyone else to change their medium as well, because we shouldn’t.”
About Dan Savage video,
The problem I had with it is that it gives that impression that things will get better magically and with just time. he doesn’t take to account that not everyone has the resources of their own to move away or deal with it. It has be a community and family effort, not just on the gay youth alone. It has to start from bottom up or otherwise all the hate crime legistration and zero tolerance stuff will be either unenforcable or will be executed badly where we have to be Orwellian/Draconian instead of reasonable to just get people to stop.
This blog post explains my critque better:
You’re focusing too much on criticizing Savage. I don’t think he believes that “things will get better magically”, and it surely wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive response to bullying. Of course, it has to be “a community and family effort”, but you also have to give the kids hope.
I’m with Savage on this point:
“The religious right points to the suicide rate among gay teenagers—which the religious right works so hard to drive up (see above)—as evidence that the gay lifestyle is destructive. It’s like intentionally running someone down with your car and then claiming that it isn’t safe to walk the streets.”
Savage’s point is that if your faith has outcomes that are hateful, you don’t get a religious exception for the moral debt. I concur.
Bob – I 100% agree with you, and Savage on the point that much of the ‘religous right’ uses that crazy circumvent reasoning as a backhanded slap. It’s unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE.
But when you say “your faith”…there are many types under the umbrella of evangelicalism and/or conservativism. That would be like me saying that every LGBT person goes out and parties and sleeps around, etc; when obviously that is not true.
Andrew, in this instance, Dan Savage prob should NOT have said “f##k your feelings” but a video campaign is an EFFORT to try and console a group of distressed teenagers.
It may not be totally accurate but its more than the conservative christians are doing.
I know you are bridge building but wouldn’t you say that at least SOMETHING is better than nothing?
Ps- jesus having a go at the Pharisees in Matt 23 is pretty antagonistic and akin to swearing! He places blame right where it is due.
Consider that for a second. Maybe you’re trying too hard to be a “peacemaker” and in order for lasting peace, the church needs to change as they are mainly responsible for the prejudice.
Why am I not surprised that you would dis the Mohler piece? It seems like he denounced bullying, he lamented the fact that there were apparently not significant adults (with knowledge of the kids orientations) involved, and he states that it is up to us to stand up for those being bullied.
What am I missing here….oh THERE it is!!! The part where he states biblical truth as a basis for our need and obligation as Christians to respond to issues such as this.
It seems to me bridge-building has become a one way process, and you have gone over there to throw stones back at the Church (well the part of the Church unwilling to share your view)
I have same-sex attractions….and I was bullied all thru school. Mohler advocates getting or being involved directly, Savages project offers a YouTube video…I think I’ll pick the real person to make a difference.
Mohler is detached, he begins by laying the moral highground.
Savage is hands on and engages with the real issue.
Mohler is speaking from a distance- commenting but taking no responsibility for the prejudice of the church.
Savage challenges and basically gives a damn.
And its dreadful you were bullied through school. I hope you are okay now. 🙁
Have to say I totally agree with you Eugene! Spot on!
I read this in a book by Martin Luther King Jr…he calls it The Interrelated Structure of Reality:
“All people are caught in an inescapbale network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
I don’t feel like I am siding with one person or group over the other. I also don’t feel like I am concentrating too much on some type of hippy-unconcerned-of-reality-“peace”. What I am trying to do is stop the cycle of this invalidation pandemic based on disagreement, trying to help everyone, and myself, understand that there are wide ranging ramifications to every word, choice action and reaction. The example set by those in the public eye directly affect and strongly influence the millions who are not.
No, I’m not perfect and you better believe I get fired up pissed at a number of things. I’m not Ghandi or a monk by any means. Righteous anger is biblical (e.g. Jesus overturning the tables). Savage feeling on fire pissed at conservative folks trying to marginalize his community is not only normal, but perfectly acceptable. But there must be a better way. So, “It Gets Better”…. does it get better if the only examples we have are f+#king people’s feelings and bashing the other group because one group feels bashed? And that goes both ways – hence why I thought Mohler’s piece, though written with as much compassion as he could, does not get the right point across.
Not good enough in my opinion. Everyone needs to be held accountable (including first and foremost, myself) because these exchanges in their current form need to stop and do, without a doubt in my mind, perpetuate the feeling of hopelessness – lest someone fully chooses one side over the other which includes fighting against the other. That rationale just makes no sense to me and I can’t for the life of me figure out a good ending to any of it from either community.
I followed the link and read your piece – I had some responses I wanted to share. It looks like there’s already been a fair amount of discussion around it, but I thought I’d write anyway.
First, I should say that I thought although Dan Savage is kind of a hero of mine, I thought his response to your “We’re Sorry” campaign at the last pride parade was pretty lamentable, and that in that case he certainly did do exactly what you accuse him of doing in this article – rallying the forces for his own “side” by deliberately stereotyping the Christian “side” in an unhelpful way, and missing out on the chance for real connection and a useful exchange in the process.
Also, I’ve followed your work for a while (although I haven’t been active on this site) – I think I was one of the first to review your book online, on the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog, and I have a lot of respect for everything about your approach.
That said, I think you were way off base in us the It Gets Better project as the one side of your dichotomy in LGBT/Christian non-connection and blame-making. To me, this effort respresents the a wonderful way the LGBT community can reach out to young people in the country – I know having access to these stories would have made a huge difference in my life when I was a gay (very very closeted) teenager. It’s hard to appreciate, but gay kids in small towns can be so cut off from the reality of LGBT life that they’ve never met an LGBT adult or have any concept of what an LGBT person’s life can be like. The project is about a community sending love to its most vulnerable members, and I feel a lot of positive energy and love flowing through it, and various of my gay friends have remarked on how encouraging we find it.
To me, it takes a lot of hubris to use the It Gets Better project as an example of a part of the LGBT community primarily focused on an anti-conversative-Christian view. Dan’s statements have not focused on the church. He has laid equal blame on parents, school administrators, lawmakers, and religion for perpetuating tacit endorsements of the anti-gay environment that manifests itself on the surface as bullying. Yes, I’m sure he did respond very aggressively to some individual letters, as he always does – he’s a nasty bitch! (in his own words…) But that it a very small aspect of the whole picture.
There a lot of very good and appropriate examples of ways in which LGBT leaders have used Christians as a scary, dehumanized “other” to try to make their own political strides – I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find one. But please lay off the It Gets Better project! It’s ain’t at all what you represent it as in your article.
On a final note, I take the time to write this only because I find your work and words a great source of hope and joy in the world, not because I necessarily always agree with what you write, but because of the spirit in which you do it, and the genuine faith and love of God that shines through in the midst of that. Blessings!
Luke: Andrew wasn’t dissing “It Gets Better”. He was writing about Savage’s “f*ck you” public response to the one Christian letter-writer.