Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not happy, Dan! (Rewritten)

EDIT: I realised after I published this the first time that my post kind of implies that it's Dan's fault there's few 'It Gets Better' videos for bi kids. Of course, it's not. As Dan himself said, the campaign is only as diverse as those who choose to participate in it. So I just wanted to clarify that I don't hold Dan responsible for the lack of videos in the campaign that relate to bisexuality. I don't. However, I still take issue with his attitude towards bisexuality. 

What you see below is an amended version of my original post.

I was inspired to write this blog post after reading this article:

Basically, it talks about well-known gay activist, Dan Savage, and some of the comments he's made about bisexuality in the past. For those of you who don't know, the 'It Gets Better' campaign was the brainchild of Mr Savage. The campaign is aimed at teens and young people who are feeling alone because of their sexuality. It involves older members of the LGBT community telling their younger peers that 'it gets better'. The campaign was launched in response to the recent rash of suicide seen among gay teens. Of course, the 'It Gets Better' campaign is a wonderful thing, and I don't know any statistics, but from what I've heard, it's largely been a roaring success.

Suddenly, kids who've felt alone and depressed can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Up until recently, I've believed that this campaign is the best thing since sliced bread.

Lately, though, I've begun to feel differently. That's not to say I've stopped thinking the campaign is a good thing. I haven't. It's just that I'm starting to doubt whether Dan takes the struggles of all LGBT youth seriously. It started when I realised something about Dan's attitude. At first I thought maybe I was being a little harsh. But I don't think so. It seems that bi activist, Kyle Schickner, and the author of the above article agree with me; Dan Savage is biphobic.

This is a suspicion I've long held, and, quite frankly, it really puts me off.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I think it's pretty sad that Mr Savage, the champion of voiceless and suicidal gay youth, can't find it within himself to extend the same olive branch to bi kids.

Recently, I listened to one of his podcasts in which he made jokes about bi invisibility, claiming that none of his bi friends were transparent. Hardy-har-har, Dan. Really funny.


Let me just ask you a question - how would you feel if people made jokes about the kids your campaign is aimed at? Like, you know, really trivialised what they might be going through?

My guess is you'd find it pretty tasteless and insensitive.

Well, there are people who feel the same way about your attitude towards bisexuality.

Because, Dan, bisexual invisibility is a real issue, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

When I realised I was bi, I freaked out. It wasn't because my parents were homophobic. It wasn't because I had any moral objections to liking girls. It wasn't because I'd gone to a school where people never even mentioned 'the gays'. It was because the possibility that I might be bisexual had never crossed my mind. I'd thought about what it might mean if I were gay. I'd imagined finding a husband one day. But bisexuality? That wasn't even on my radar.

I sure could've used someone telling me it would get better. That I was normal. That it wasn't a phase. That it was ok to like boys and girls.

I'm well aware that, as far as coming out goes, I couldn't have asked for better conditions. But even though I was secure in a way that lots of kids who come out aren't, it was still difficult for me.

The hardest thing was feeling caught between two worlds. I wasn't gay, and I wasn't straight, so where did that leave me?

Despite knowing that loving and supportive people surrounded me, I felt utterly alone. I told my parents nothing, and my friends little. I didn't know any other bi people. I was so confused. I wished it would go away. I wished I could choose. I even felt jealous of my gay friends for having a community all of their own.

I was even a bit scared that, when the Queer Collective at my uni found out I was bi, they'd kick me out for not being 'gay enough'.

So imagine how much worse things must be for bi kids who aren't as lucky as I am. Whose families, churches, schools and communities make it clear to them that their sexuality is wrong. Imagine going through all that and then hearing someone like you, Dan, one of the most prominent members of the gay community, saying some of the things you've said about bisexuality. Imagine discovering that you think that, as a group, bisexuals are 'mostly straight'.

It'd be a pretty big slap in the face, wouldn't it?

Really, knowing the things you say about bisexuality makes me so mad. Can someone please tell me why it's ok for you to make some of the comments you do? Especially when these comments are coming from the man who launched a project letting people know how damaging it is for young people's sexuality to be dismissed, ridiculed, ignored and invalidated.

Yesterday, I was listening to one of your podcasts, and, as usual, you launched into an impassioned diatribe about how hard it is for gay kids to have their sexuality treated as something that doesn't really exist, or that can be changed.

Hypocrite, much, Dan? How is it ok for you to say that bisexuality is simply transitional, or that we're 'mostly straight', or that we 'mostly end up' in straight relationships? You're effectively invalidating our experiences, whilst (as we all should be) getting mad at parents who force their kids to stay in the closet because they don't believe in the validity of homosexuality. In other words, you're calling those parents out for doing to their gay kids exactly what you do to bisexuals.

Oh, and another thing? Even you have admitted to being attracted to at least one woman in the past, which just goes to show that people who identify as completely gay, or completely straight, may actually be just the tiniest bit bi. And that makes your criticism even worse.

You know what, Mr Savage? When it comes to the situation for bi kids, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution. Biphobia, and bi invisibility, just like homophobia, has to stop. And prominent members of the LGBT community, like you, are perfectly placed to make sure that bisexuality, transsexuality, and other deviations from the gay/straight, male/female binaries do not get left behind.

So come on Dan. Step up to the plate and show us that you're with us. Make it better for everyone in the LGBT community, not just the gay kids.


1 comment:

  1. Omg, I can't believe Dan Savage actually said that! That is so wrong! Having just read an article about biphobia in the gay community, it makes a little sense, but you also have to wonder who out there really has your back.

    Its sad, and its wrong, that bi kids have to put up with this. I don't understand Savage's logic, but someone has got to stand up and call him out on it, publicly.

    But no one will, because no one sees it. They discriminate or else don't notice bis, and in all of celebrity, I don't think there's one (out) bi to fight for it.

    Characters are basically all there is. One bi here...if you're lucky, another bi there. Bisexuals are the gays of modern age.