Dear Dan Savage, about Episode 444 – Men of the cloth. | Savage Lovecast


Dear Biphobe,

You just can’t resist jumping up and down on landmines can you?  Which I find really strange here because you start this episode of your podcast talking about Bruce Jenner (this was before the Vanity Fair’s piece where she identifies as Caitlyn Jenner) and the issues of gender identity, pronouns, and orientation.  You handled that so well that it hit me really bad when you answered a question from a straight ally that he should “go crazy” and eat the “bi pussy”.  Then you tell him that he might even get laid, because there will be bisexual women there.

Now, I would think that most people, especially those in the LGBT movement, would know what’s wrong with this.  But just in case I’ll try to explain everything wrong here.

  1. You should have just stopped with “don’t eat the pussy, it’s not for you”.  That still wouldn’t have been great, as the only person who can tell you if a set of genitals is for you is the owner of said genitals.
  2. There is no such thing as “bi pussy”, there are bisexuals that have pussy’s, but by saying “bi pussy” you are contributing to the objectification of bisexual women.
  3. When you tell him that he “might even get laid” you’re perpetuating the myth that bisexual women are always sexually available to men.
  4. Bisexual women who do go to Pride events are not there looking for men.  From my experience most are not looking for any sexual partners, but if I’m wrong and there are women looking for some happy naked fun time then they are looking for it from other women, and not straight men.
  5. This straight ally didn’t even suggest that he was interested in sexual experiences at Pride, so there’s no reason for you to even bring it up.

So, what should you do now?  How can you fix this?

As I tell most people who accidentally say something biphobic, and I do believe that you didn’t intend to be biphobic here, the first step is to apologize.  Tell the bisexual women out there that you were wrong to indicate to a straight guy that it was okay to hit on them at a Pride event.  Matter of fact you should apologize to all women for leading some men into thinking they could meet women at Pride.  I understand that you thought you were being inclusive with your “bi pussy” comment, but this sort of objectification is one of the worst bits that bisexual women have to deal with.

I understand you are trying to improve, but until you start treating bisexuals as actual people, and not just genitals, you will not be forgiven by the bisexual community.  I continue to enjoy your column and podcast and agree with most of your advice.  Hopefully you’ll take my advice and we can mend fences.

Thank you,

Troy

via Episode 444 – Men of the cloth. | Savage Lovecast.

Dan Savage gets real close to giving a good answer, and then ruins it


Dear Biphobe,

Dan, in the March 25, 2015 edition of your “Savage Love” column you received the following question

I found this in an online sex ad: “Straight guy with an addiction to massive cocks in my ass.” This “straight guy” went on to mention his girlfriend. Can a person really identify as straight while wanting to be fucked by men? I understand that straight guys can like ass play too, but it’s not like he wants to be pegged by his girlfriend or use a dildo on himself. He’s straight-up (heh-heh) looking for hung dudes to fuck his ass.

Jaded And Wondering, Dude’s Really On Pussy?

Your response to JAWDROP comes really close to being perfect.  Though personally I would have started by asking why JAWDROP cared, but that’s really not important at this point.  Let’s talk about your response;

Can a person identify as straight while wanting to be fucked by men? Ha-ha-ha. Yes. I was pretending to be straight when I was 15, Pastor Ted “Meth and Man Ass” Haggard was pretending to be straight when he was 45, and Congressman Aaron Schock is still pretending to be straight.

Yes, there are many people that pretend to be straight while on the down low.  I will point out that Ted Haggard has actually came out as Bisexual, and as far as I know the claim that Congressman Schock is Gay really comes down to him posting some shirtless pictures online.  Under that argument Vladimir Putin is Gay.

As for the guy behind that online sex ad: He is most likely bisexual and rounding himself down to straight. There’s a much smaller chance he’s straight and it isn’t the massive cocks that turn him on, JAWDROP, but the boundary-shattering/identity-upending violation that being pounded by massive cocks represents. It could also be a “forced bi” thing, and he’s doing this to please a dominant girlfriend.

This is the part that comes close to perfect, you acknowledge that he might be Bisexual and you accept that there may be other reasons that a straight man might want to have sex with other men.  And then you have to ruin this with an aside;

Or—and this is a lot likelier than straight or forced bi—he’s a gay guy who pretends to be a straight guy online because the ruse attracts gay and bi guys turned on by the boundary-crossing/identity-upending violation that shoving their massive cocks up a straight guy’s ass represents.

You had to go there didn’t you?  You had to say that you think that he’s a Gay guy pretending to be straight.  You had to ruin your awesome response with this.  And, in my opinion anyway, it’s only the aside that ruins this.  Let’s read it again without the offending comment

Or he’s a gay guy who pretends to be a straight guy online

That would have been fine, the only way that could have been better is if you would have added a “or Bisexual” after “gay” there.  You made your point, you would have even made your biphobic fans happy because they would have read that as you saying that all men who have sex with men are Gay.  But you had to add in that you think it’s more likely that he’s lying to everyone.  Hopefully you understand why, given your history, that you might want to resist that urge in the future.

Though I do have to hand it to you, you ended it just right

Only way to know for sure: Ask him yourself. No guarantee you’ll get a straight answer, of course, but only he knows for sure what’s up with him.

Yes, the only person who can tell you what label they are comfortable with is that person.  And does anything else really matter, unless it affects you personally (and it really doesn’t affect JAWDROP either way) you should assume people are telling the truth.

So, you gave a response to someone that started well, ended good, and had 11 words in the middle that shouldn’t have been there.

I’ll give you a B- grade on this one, big improvement for the days where you would have never even used the word “Bisexual”, or only used it to claim that it’s only a stepping stone to being Gay, but you still have a lot of room for more improvement.


To Hat, of Adventures in Gay


Dear Biphobe,

You recently sent out a tweet,

Now, this is usually the type of casual biphobia and I’ll just send a message telling you to what I think of it and move on.  But then you went on to try to excuse it.  First you tried “it was a joke”, a brave, but stupid move that most bigots try at some point.  Even at this point I wasn’t going to write this letter, then I saw this,

allow me to puntificate

adventures in gay is rooted almost entirely in sexuality and humor, two of the three most subjective aspects of human existence (the third being morality).
I wake every morning and try to make everyone around me laugh but I understand, that by nature of comedy, this isn’t always going to be the case.

I have seen the good firsthand that can come from laughter. When two individuals or sides are arguing, get them both laughing and a resolve will materialize much quicker. When we laugh we begin to realize how trivial the things we argue about are. That is how I approach my life, I refuse to take myself or my sexuality seriously and I encourage others to do the same. If I was worried about offending others, I wouldn’t be able to live an openly gay life.

I’m fortunate enough to work in animation, a community so diverse, welcoming and kind, that we are able to joke about things of all natures (religion, orientation, race) because quite frankly they aren’t issues to us. I genuinely wish everyone has an opportunity to experience living in such an environment.

Oh and also… it was a pun (I guarantee if you were hanging out with your friends and one of them said that, you would laugh). Lighten up people. Life is much easier when you laugh.

Love Hatthew

There’s quite a bit here that is questionable, like you think that jokes about other’s race or beliefs are funny, but that’s something others will have to deal with.  This letter is intended to explain to you why many Bisexuals found your “joke” offensive and give suggestions to move forward.  But here in this defense of your tweet you start by admitting that humor is subjective then by the end you are telling us that we would laugh at it if our friends had said it.   I hope that I don’t have to explain why both those statements can’t be true.  If humor is subjective there’s no way to guarantee that there is any joke every one would laugh at, and vice versa. I know the latter is not true in my case.  If a friend of mine, even if they were Bisexual, called me an “onmi-whore” I would tell them that I didn’t find that funny, indeed I found it offensive.  Thing is, most of my friends would apologize and we would move on.  I do wonder how you react when you hear someone use the term “gay” to mean “lame”, I’m sure most of them would say to lighten up if you told them to stop.

Just in case you’ve missed it, the reason we found your original offensive is that one of the biggest criticisms of Bisexuality is that many think we are more promiscuous than monosexuals.  By calling Bisexuals whores, and omni-whores at that, you’re perpetuating the myth that Bisexuals will have sex with anyone, which isn’t even true of the sex workers that I’m guessing would also be offended by your words. (Any sex worker rights activist out there want to tell me otherwise?)

One more thing for me to bring up before getting to my suggestions on moving forward, in your various back and forth posts you say  “I guess the two relationships I’ve had with bi guys don’t amount to anything…”.  I’m always surprised how often this comes up, just because you had sex with someone doesn’t give you the right to say anything you want about them.  No matter how many people of color you know it’s not okay to use the “N word”, no matter how many women you know it’s not okay to use misogynistic language, and no matter how many Bisexuals you know it’s not okay to use biphobic terms.  And in each of these cases you should listen to member of the group if they tell you what you said was offensive.

Now on to my suggestions on how to move forward.

  1. Apologize, and try to make if a real apology.  Remember there’s a difference between “I’m sorry I offended you” (acceptable) and “I’m sorry you were offended” (not so much)
  2. Don’t respond to anyone posting anything about it.  Much of this happened on Tumblr, which tends to have an odd memory.  It either forgets things in a few days or pulls things up from months back, if you try to defend yourself all you’ll do is bring it into everyone’s memory and we’ll have to do it all again.
  3. Stick to making jokes about groups you belong to.

When I first saw your comics I really enjoyed them, and have found much of your work on YouTube also very funny, I’m hoping you listen to my suggestions and I can get back to laughing with you rather than having you laugh at us.

Thank you for listening,

Troy

The First Open Letter to Dan Savage


I keep thinking that I should write about Dan Savage’s biphobia, but there is just so much of it I wasn’t sure were to start.  So rather than try to go through all of it I’m just going to comment on this gem Mr. Savage did while promoting his book “American Savage

Dear Biphobe,

I would really like to start this letter by pointing out this video I’m responding to starts with a viewer question,

DanSavagei'mnotbiphobic DanSavagei'mnotbiphobic2

a question which doesn’t really get answered.  The implied answered is either “no, I’m just as ignorant about Bisexuality as I ever was” or possibly “yes, my understand has changed, I have an even more negative view toward Bisexuals” but the actual question isn’t even addressed.   What was the point of asking a question if it just gets ignored in favor of the standard blaming of Bisexuals for biphobia.  But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt since this isn’t on the official Dan Savage YouTube channel and assume that someone of The Dish Blog channel added this without telling you what the actual question was.  I’ll just say they asked you what you would like to say to people that call you biphobic, or something like that.  But now lets deal with what you, Dan Savage, actually say in this video.

Right off the bat you give the standard line about gay men using Bisexuality as a stepping stone to coming out.  Even if that is true there are many reasons not to question the orientation of those young Bisexual men.  Indeed just the opposite, let me ask you, and and other gay guy who first came out as Bisexual a question.  When you identified as Bisexual, would someone telling you that you were really Gay help you to come out as Gay?  Or would it have just driven you back into the closet?  Now I’m to ask you to think like a young Bisexual man for a moment and answer those questions from that point of view.  Because I will tell you my answers, because it actually happened to me.  When I was 18-22 years old I was questioning my  sexuality (I was a bit of a late bloomer), I would occasionally talk to my friends about this.  When I stated that I thought I was Bisexual, the reactions I got ranged between calling Bisexuals “confused” to telling me to my face that men can’t be Bisexual.  About the best response I got at the time was from a lady that told be that if I identified as Bisexual I would not be accepted by either Gay or Straight society.  Given that at the time I was in a serious relationship with a woman I knew I wasn’t Gay, so this biphobia did drive me back into the closet.  It was roughly 15 years later that I was finally able to come out, only after I didn’t care what others thought.  That’s right, attitudes like yours caused me to stay in the closet for over a decade.

The next thing you say causes my blood pressure to seriously spike, because you double down on your biphobia and claim that this is evidence that you are not biphobic.  The line in question is ” you meet somebody who’s 15, 16, 17 is old me tell you that there bi there are meted by a little voice in back you have goes yeah so was I you don’t say that out loud but you think”.  Okay, my problem with this argument, which you and a lot of your fans seem to like, is you are saying it right now!  You are a public figure who is often listed as a LGBT activist (even though you seem to only care about the “G” part) so every time you say that you assume that teenage Bisexuals aren’t really Bisexual you are telling that to current young Bisexuals.   The only way you can deny that is if you think that no young Bisexuals listen to you, and that is just idiotic.

What you don’t seem to understand here is it’s not the fact that some Gay men use the Bisexual label as a tool to help them coming out isn’t why people call you biphobic, it’s the fact that you continue to push this idea that unless you directly attack Bisexuals you are not biphobic.  I know you won’t get this so lets use an example from your history, when Rick Santorum equated Gay sex with bestiality he was not attacking any individual homosexual, and he even clearly said ” I have no problem with homosexuality”.  But what he said was clearly homophobic, and I’m sure you would agree.

You then start in about talking about the idea that anyone in a relationship a different gender “disappears into default Heterosexuality”, now I won’t go on for a long time about this, but I will state that people assuming that Bisexuality is a phase is what causes this problem.  Not Bisexuals getting into relationships, and maybe if more Gay activists like you would remind people that people should be able to label themselves things would improve.

And can you please just shut up about that Northwestern Study, you seem to think that only by being as biphobic as you did they “prove” bisexuality exists.  When there were many other problems with that study.   The first study was done with subjects found through advertisements in Gay magazines and in Gay bars, hardly the best place to find Bisexual men, but it is a great way to find Gay men that will tell researchers that they are Bi to pick up a little money.  But all that aside, I’ve got a question for you on that study.  How would you react to someone trying to prove that Gay men actually exist?  Even the fact that the study ever happened is biphobic, no other sexuality is ever studied to see if it actually exists. But better writers than I have spent entire posts tearing about both studies.

But my real problem with your stance that you continue is that you still argue that it’s not biphobic to assume that young Bisexual men are lying, and that is either damaging or pointless.  If they are not lying you are telling them that they will be seen as a Gay unless they can prove they are Bisexual, and if they are lying (i.e. they are actually Gay) you are trying to take away the tool you admit you used to help your coming out process.  

WOW, you really have the balls to pull the “I have Bi friends” BS.   Do I really have to explain how being friends with someone doesn’t give you a get out of bigotry card?  Racists can have Black friends, misogynists can have women friends,  homophobes can have Gay friends, and biphobes can have Bisexual friends.  Just because you can treat people that you personally know with respect doesn’t mean you aren’t a bigot toward those you haven’t met.

Then you wrap this up with blaming Bisexuals for not being out.  You claim that you want Bisexuals to come out, that if we come out then things will get better for us all.  And this hypocrisy is what causes most people to call you a biphobe, you tell everyone that it’s okay to assume that Bisexuals are lying and then you tell us that we should be telling everyone we are Bisexual.   Those really don’t work, do you realize how hard it is to come out to people who don’t believe you?   If someone assumes everything you say is a lie you quit talking to them.  It’s as simple as that.

Now that I’ve tried to show how practically everything you say in this video is biphobic, I’d like to give you a little bit of advice to move forward.   How can you mend fences between you and the Bisexual community?

  1. Admit that at least some of what you have said in the past was biphobic and apologize.  Don’t try to justify it, don’t claim that everyone was saying the same things, just say “What I said in the past was biphobic, and I’m sorry that I perpetuated these stereotypes”  or something similar to that.
  2. Listen to the Bisexual community.   Maybe have someone from the Bisexual Resource Center or any of the other Bisexual Organizations on your podcast or maybe be a guest on a Bisexual podcast.
  3. Be prepared to apologize multiple times, you have a long history of being very negative toward Bisexuals.  It will take just as long, if not longer, to convince people that you have changed.
  4. Make it clear that it is harmful to question anyone’s self identification.

If you do these things, it will not erase what you have said in the past, but it will do quite a bit to convince people that your attitude has changed.

Thank you,

Troy

 

 

To Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence


On Aug 26, 2014 Slate ran a transcript of a chat with Emily Yoffe, the writer of their “Dear Prudence” column.  In this chat Yoffe told a 27 year old bisexual woman to stay in the closet.  This has received much criticism, and I’m tempted to join them in condemning her.  But instead I’m going to try to explain why what she said was problematical and hopefully give her the information she needs so the next bisexual that ask “Dear Prudence” a question gets better advice.

 



Dear Biphobe,

Basically, Emily Yoffe, every bit of your response could be called biphobic, or at least bi erasure.  Lets go through your entire response and explain why it’s wrong.

You start by comparing bisexuality to fetishes, and that is never a good place to go.  Sexual fetishism is being aroused by an object or a situation, while sexual orientation describes what gender(s) you find yourself romantically and/or sexually attracted to.  Perhaps a better way to describe it is to say that one is what you would like to do and the other is who you’d like to do it with.   Bisexuality is just the fact that the people we are potentially attracted to comprise more than one gender.   The main reason this upsets us is that equating the two leads many to believe that A) bisexuals are incapable of monogamy (many of us are, probably about the same percent as monosexuals), B) bisexuals are willing to indulge other people’s kinks (that would need to be negotiated with each couple no matter what their orientation), & C) bisexuals are “up for anything” (which is probably why bisexual women are victims of sexual assault at almost twice the rate of straight women)

You then suggest that ” This would not be news you’d be required to announce at the next Thanksgiving gathering”, I have to wonder, would you suggest that gays or lesbians come out at Thanksgiving?   It seems like a bad choice of when to come out to me.   I’m in no way an expert on how to come out (I tend to have people discover it before I can tell them) but let’s face it, a simple Google search will give decent advice on how and when to come out.

And then you praise society for accepting gays while at the same time you downplay bisexuality as “sexual exploration”.  Most bisexuals are not “exploring”, and saying we are sounds much like those who claim that bisexuality is a phase.  This is probably the biggest thing bisexual activists fight against, basically all of bisexual erasure can come down to the idea that bisexuality isn’t real and we are just exploring.

Finally, you finish this response worrying that her coming out would be “discomfiting” to her family.  I don’t know how to say this without sounding like I’m doubting your intelligence, but the point of coming out is not about the comfort of those you are coming out to.  There are many reasons to come out, but I’ll give you two that you obviously don’t understand.  1. Coming out fights prejudices about groups, by coming out to her family “Irrelevant Closet” would have given them an idea on what bisexuals are really like. 2. Coming out allows open discussion of the past and future, she may be monogamous with a man now, but what if they divorce, or he passes away, or they decide open their marriage up to nonmonogamy?  If she comes out now there will be fewer questions later.

Let me tell you the real reason many bisexuals are upset, we get angry at people telling bisexuals to stay in the closet is that we all have heard the same thing ourselves.  It may have come from a spouse that doesn’t want people to think that your marriage isn’t a happy one, or a friend who just wonders why you can’t just “be straight”, or even ourselves when we are trying to come up with reasons not to come out, but we’ve been told that there’s no reason to come out.  One question I’d like to ask you before getting to my advice for you, if this lady had come out as lesbian, but did not intend to date for awhile, would you tell her she didn’t need to come out to her family until she was pursuing relationships with women?

What do I think you should do now?  Well, first of all I think you need to apologize to “Irrelevant Closet” and the rest of the bisexual community.  I’d suggest letting everyone know that telling adults to stay in the closet, no matter how relevant they are, is always bad advice.  The next time someone asks you if they should come out you should tell them without hesitation yes.  If they are bisexual you should tell them to look for bisexual organizations, pointing them at the Bisexual Resource Center, or BiNet USA would be a good start.  And while your there it be a good idea for you to acquaint yourself with what bisexuals actually say about bisexuality.