This week we discuss noted gay rights activist and sex advice columnist Dan Savage. I want to begin by stating emphatically that Dan has done tremendous good for the gay and lesbian community. As an educated, articulate and passionate voice for honesty and equality, Dan has dared to take on some of our most ardent critics in profound and powerful ways. But even more than that, with his “It Gets Better” campaign, Dan gave hope to some of those who need it most — closeted gay teens living in homophobic states, towns and homes.
But you probably noticed that in the above statement I said the “gay and lesbian community,” pointedly leaving out the word “bisexual.” Why the omission?
Because in my opinion Dan Savage is a biphobe.
Wikipedia defines biphobia thus: “Biphobia is a term used to describe aversion felt toward bisexuality and bisexuals as a social group or as individuals.”
For over a decade now, Dan Savage has been saying blatantly hurtful, cruel and insulting things about bisexuals. For this champion of the gay community and the face of the “It Gets Better” campaign to treat bisexuals with the level of disrespect he exhibits is shameful.
AfterElton.com contacted Dan, asking if he’d like to clarify his position on bisexuality. He declined to respond to the questions I sent, which I take to mean he stands by his record. So let’s examine that record, shall we?
In 1999, Dan printed this response after being challenged about his biphobia:
“Sorry, but avoiding bi guys is a good rule of thumb for gay men looking
for long-term relationships. Outside of San Francisco’s
alternate-universe bisexual community, there aren’t many bi guys who
want or wind up in long-term, same-sex relationships — monogamous or
His cruelty in suggesting bisexuals should be shunned by any gay person seeking a long term relationship is exceeded only by his hubris in thinking he can judge an entire community based on whatever limited sampling he happens to have to work with.
Also from 1999, Dan offered this solution for bisexuals seeking love:
“No, there are definitely some people who should fool around with
bisexual men: OTHER BISEXUAL MEN! Jesus Christ, bisexuals — if
straights and gays treat you unfairly, then why not turn to each other
for love and comfort? Judging from my mail of late, there’s an unlimited
supply of easily offended, extremely verbose, highly ethical bisexuals
out there looking for love. F**k each other!”
Apparently, we are not only people who cannot be trusted enough to get into a relationship with, we are also SO high-strung and easily offended that we should stick to our own kind. That, at least, is what my bisexual ears are hearing from Dan.
It sounds like to me that in Dan Savage’s utopia, bisexuals really should be branded with a Scarlet B (h/t Jamie) so gays and lesbians can avoid us like lepers. Take a look at the advice he gives this person with a bisexual girlfriend in February 2009.
Questioner: I’m a lesbian, and my girlfriend is
bisexual and wants to have a three-way with a man. This makes me
nervous. What should I do?
DAN: Get yourself a refillable Xanax prescription, or get yourself an actual lesbian girlfriend.
So, apparently, Dan doesn’t think this relationship is even
worth trying to save. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but all he gives it is a
flip one sentence response when his usual advice to straight or gay people in similar situations is that you need to be willing to at least listen to the needs and desires of your significant other. But his “advice” here is to just dump the
bisexual without discussion or debate.
Dan seems to believe in bisexuals in the same way an 8-year-old believes in Santa Claus. That is, he doesn’t really believe in them but it makes people happy to think he believes, so he says the words.
Case in point, he has said that he identified as bisexual when he was sixteen and it is his belief that many gays and lesbians do the same only because they are not ready to come out. He uses this fact as further reasoning that most anyone else claiming to be bisexual before they are 30 is probably either confused or just a closet case.
In the 2008 documentary, Bi the Way, Dan
said “I meet someone who’s 19-years-old who tells me he’s bisexual and
I’m like, ‘Yeah, right, I doubt it. I tell them come back when you’re
like 29 and we’ll see.'”
That’s a very troubling thing to hear from a champion of equality.
Doesn’t a person have the right to say for themselves who and what they
are, regardless of age? And even if some percentage of young
people who do identify as bi only to later realize they are gay, what
of the actual bisexuals who read his dismissive words? As an elder
statesman of the GLBT community does he not owe them at the very least
some respect when discussing them, if not some actual helpful advice
when they ask for it?