Dan Savage: Queer-on-Queer Glitter-Bombing Victim

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Players: Dan Savage, creator of the It Gets Better project, gay rights activist, Rick Santorum's Google Nemesis and gay glitter-bombing barbarian supporter; The Dan Savage Welcoming Committee, "a member-less organization" whose only point of unity is accusing Dan Savage of hypocrisy.

The Opening Serve: The origins of this spat began in 2003, when Savage wrote a column entitled "Bad Tranny" where he dishes this piece of advice: "The tranny activists are going to jump down my throat for this, but... it seems to me that your ex could've put off the sex change until after his son was out of high school."  Things don't get better from there, as he liberally used the word "shemale" in another column from two years ago. And when Savage made fun of Washington State Attorney Rob McKenna's (who isn't transgendered) looks just a year ago, the transgender community was his punchline. "It's staggering that Rob McKenna, a female-to-male transsexual, is making it harder for other FTMs (and MTFs) to access the life saving sex-reassignment surgery that allowed Rob to become the man he is today," wrote Savage, who then updated the post. "I'm getting some very angry emails about this post. What can I say? I'm so sorry."  Just last month, he talked with The New Civil Rights Movement to clear the air

“How do you disprove a charge like you’re transphobic? I’m not afraid of trans people.” Savage then goes into a mimicking voice, knowing not to say, “One of my friends is trans,” but does say that he has a friend who is trans who comes to his house for Christmas. “We hang out all the tie,” Savage says. “I certainly have had a journey in the last 20 years — as have we all — on trans issues. When I started writing Savage Love 20 years ago, and you can yank quotes 15, 18 years ago and flat them up today and say, ‘You know, that’s transphobic,’ I’d probably agree with you. 15 years ago I didn’t know as much as I know now — nor did anybody.”

The Return Volley: Savage's apology and explanation weren't enough it seems.  On Monday night he was glitter-bombed by the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee at a speaking engagement in Eugene, Oregon. Glitter-bombing, the act of throwing sparkly glitter on someone, is usually reserved for anti-gay, Republican politicians.  What started as a shiny salvo against Newt Gingrich this past May, snowballed into Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann getting the taste of the shiny stuff as well, notes the New York Times. Now, thanks to the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee, Savage joins their ranks. "Dan Savage is a transphobic and generally oppressive rich white cis gay man who came to Eugene, OR on Halloween weekend. The Dan Savage Welcoming Committee let him know that he can't be a douche with impunity," writes the organization on the Portland independent media center. "He's a racist and misogynist and a rape-apologist, too!"  

What They Say They're Fighting About: Dan Savage's view on the transgender community. He would argue that his views are still evolving and that what he wrote about eight, two, even one year ago doesn't reflect the growth he's made or the views he holds today. The Dan Savage Welcoming Committee begs to differ. 

Recommended Reading

What They're Really Fighting About: Dan Savage's causes and the notoriety of glitter-bombing Dan Savage.  The heart of this beef is more about Savage's mainstream image. The fact that Savage created the "It Gets Better" anti-bullying project and has become the chief Santorum agitator puts his actions, especially those that don't jibe with his tolerance and equality-for-all stance, under a microscope. Calling someone, who's as famous as Savage, out on their perceived hypocrisy has a novelty value to it, especially when you do so by glitter-bombing him.

Who's Winning Now: Though there's something poetic about Savage getting glitter-bombed (live by the sword glitter, die by the glitter?), Savage squeaks this one out. Especially when there's no footage of the glitter-bombing yet (if someone gets glitter-bombed and there's no blurry, shaky YouTube clip to back it up, did it even happen?).  Savage admits himself he's been an inconsistent ally to the transgender community and is working on it. But the glitter-bombers are responsible own undoing.  If you're going to call someone out for being a (fill in the blank)ist, it's not a good to do so offensively. So when you call Dan Savage a misogynist, releasing a statement that he's a "douche"--an insult that's arguably misogynistic itself--it probably isn't the best strategy. Granted, the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee has the notoriety of glitter-bombing one of the nation's most prolific gay rights activists, but they probably should have let their actions and Dan Savage's own columns speak for themselves. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.