Something of a firestorm erupted in the gay community this week. Just as the conservative gay group GOProud formally endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency, gay columnist Dan Savage felt the impetus to respond in a...rather controversial manner: by calling GOProud "House faggots."
As a matter of full disclosure, I feel the need to say a few things at the top of this op/ed. First, generally speaking, I am a fan if Dan Savage. His second greatest hit of all time was initiating Rick Santorum's "Google problem" (which Santorum rightly deserved). More importantly though, he and his partner Terry are the creators of the "It Gets Better" campaign which was started to combat the wave of suicides that have resulted from anti-gay bullying in the nations schools. They deserve a lot of credit for that contribution.
|GOProud co-founders Jimmy LaSalvia & Chris Barron|
On the other hand, I have no particular love for GOProud. It is not that they vote Republican or that they are conservative. That is fine. My distaste for them stems from the tone of their political discourse, not just as an organization, but also in terms of their co-founders as well. If you follow them on Twitter as I do, they are not above the occasional juvenile name-calling. I also believe that they are sell-outs. The man that they have just endorsed wants a constitutional amendment saying that they are second class citizens. They are willing to throw the entire gay community under the bus to get him elected President. It is one thing to be fiscally conservative (though I don't really believe either party is truly that), but it's quite another to sacrifice equal protections under the law for a tax cut.
Having said all of that, I can not in good conscience condone what was said by Dan Savage. The context in which that word (or any word like it) can be said is extremely narrow, and Savage stepped well out of bounds.Using that word as such a pejorative puts him on par with many of the very people that the "It Gets Better" campaign seeks to fight. It lines him up with people who spray paint that that word on people's cars, homes, or the lockers of students at school. There is zero excure for this.
All things considered, NO ONE comes out of this conflict looking good, especially given a tweet from one of GOProud's co-founders that has been unearthed by some of my fellow bloggers:
I guess the real moral of this story is this: do NOT tweet angrily. What we say in the heat of a moment may (and usually will) come back to haunt us.