I’ve posted commentary before on the Savage Love column. I know that no one is perfect, and that the image this man sells to the world has helped hundreds of people battling their sexuality against the prevailing social norms. Generally speaking I am a fan of peace and this man is waging a war. I understand. But I don’t understand this: when does it become acceptable to belittle the enemy in the name of justice? Why is it ok to hurt people because they are different than we are? Is it ok to do this because we are being hurt by them? By naming ourselves the minority, do we gain moral superiority and judgment rights over the people we name as the majority?
I practice self awareness and abstention from judgment every day of my life. I find that this is the only route to self acceptance and freedom. How can I forgive myself for my own shortcomings when I judge others for theirs? This is what I believe in. So when I heard this story on last week’s podcast, and I heard Dan’s poisonous response, I couldn’t help but feel as if it was directed to me. I identified with the caller, but also with the friend that he was hurt by. I had to write in to make my peace. But as I mention in my letter, I am not world famous, so I don’t merit the attention necessary for a response. So I make myself heard here, in my little space on the Vast Interwebs, which is fueled by the energy of Quantum Weasels.
I’m a long time listener of your podcasts/reader of your columns. And I’m a mostly straight woman (though recent sexuality research suggests I am a mostly behaviorally straight, but thoroughly bisexually oriented woman, if not a somewhat bisexually oriented gay man), for what that’s worth.
Anyway, on your most recent podcast (#373), you had a caller who was a long time (bff?) friend of a straight but very gay-supporting man who lived out in the redneck backward part of the country. One night the straight friend says to the gay friend that he is curious about a mmf with his wife, then proceeds to jack off in front of him. Understandably, the gay friend feels like their relationship was seriously damaged by the act. He calls in for advice.
Dan, your response to this man was appalling. The advice was fine: clear the air in a non-confrontational way and give the guy a face-saving way to make amends. That’s fine. But you went on and on about how the friend was a homophobe and that his actions were homophobic and that the gay caller had every right to be offended because the friend, who he thought was an ally, was really a closet homophobe. Now, I may not be the world-renowned sex advice columnist/gay male celebrity that you are, but I’m pretty sure I know what homophobia means. Etymologically, it means fear of the same, which translates to fear of same sex relationships in our context. In practice it usually means the general category of actions and beliefs aimed at oppressing, hurting or insulting gay people, often as a result of a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of homosexuality.
It sure sounded to me like the “straight” friend was trying to come out to his gay friend and doing it in a seriously ineffective and majorly awkward fashion. Arguably, he couldn’t have been more awkward about it. From what I understand, the only part about it that was homophobic was the fact that the guy was making assumptions about what it means to be gay that were clearly wrong, and that were upsetting to his long-time friend. But was he trying to hurt the friend? Insult the friend? Deprive the friend of his fundamental humanity? I think that’s a pretty far cry from homophobic.
You did him wrong there, Dan, and I feel like you did me wrong, too. I find women extremely attractive and arousing, but I’ve never had a relationship with another woman. Frankly I just don’t get how that would work. So does that make me a homophobe? Am I now a self-hating lesbian because I don’t understand other lesbians? Am I a self-hating bisexual because I don’t understand the minutest details about how gay men organize their sex lives? Is everyone who is confused about their sexuality and homosexuality at the same time suddenly homophobic?
Way out of line, Dan. Way the fuck out of line. You really let me down on that one.
–Just Another Woman Lost in the Struggle