This Week in the Mercury


Friday, May 14, 2010

Savage Love Letter o' the Day: Unfriend the Bigot

Posted by Dan Savage on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 9:29 AM

I go to a very progressive all girls' school in a very liberal part of the country. Most of my classmates are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Democrats. No problem, right? Wrong. There's a girl in my grade who I'm kind of friendly with. We have similar taste in books, movies, men, etc. The big problem is she's conservative and Christian. And I mean goes to church every Sunday, wants to join the Air Force, thinks Obama wasn't born in the U.S.

The big problem with this girl is she's homophobic. Very homophobic. She refuses to watch any movie or TV shows with gay characters or actors, listen to bands with gay members, or read books with gay characters or written by gay authors. So no Glee, Brokeback Mountain, Queen, Anne Rice, etc. I can understand that some people find gay sex a little uncomfortable. But refusing to take in any media with gay people? I'm actually worried about what will happen when Anderson cooper comes out.

It gets worse. At my school, we've got a small, but sizable group of bisexuals and lesbian girls, and they're pretty out about it, not like flaunt it in your face, but people know who's what. One of my best friends is bi, but still more or less in the closet. So, this homophobic Christian girl, every time our GSA has a bake sale or a meeting, she makes really homophobic comments about them. She says gay people are gross and will go to Hell, talks about how you can "pray the gay away", and insists that being gay is a choice, and God will hate them for their choices. I'm straight and I find it awkward. She even attacks straight people who support the "homosexual agenda." I have a "No on 8" pin on my backpack. She asked me why I hated God and made comments that implied that I was a lesbian. I found that a little offensive, because I am not and am very comfortable with my heterosexuality. When she found out my straight friend and I went to the San Francisco Pride parade to support our gay friends, she straight out asked us if we were lesbians and said she would not be friends with lesbians.

I know this is a weird letter, and really long, and sort of all over the map, but you seem cool and hopefully you'll answer this. I'm sure there are so many other teens in my situation, who are pro-gay rights, but have a homophobic friend. What should I do about this girl? My grade is so small I can't just ignore her, and every time we talk, she brings up the "evils" of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle. Any advice?

Just so you know, I'm a politically aware liberal, and I've tried debating and convincing her. It failed miserably, so that won't work.

Thanks!

Straight Against The Hate

My response—and SATH's, and mine again, and SATH's again—all after the jump...

Let's just pretend for a minute, as an experiment, that this girl is a racist, uses the word "nigger," condemns interracial marriage, and treats the African American girls at your school with disrespect and contempt. Would you be her friend then?

Hate has to have consequences for the haters, SATH, or they'll never learn, and never knock it off.

Dan


Here's the thing. Homophobia aside, she's a really sweet, funny, cool kid, and I'd like to be friends with her. I'm not sure if I should tell her that I want to be friends, but she has to stop making homophobic comments around me, since they make me uncomfortable. After all, I don't criticize Christianity in front of her. Or should I just stop talking to her, and wipe her completely out of my life?

Thanks again. And I loved this week's podcast. I'll try to use "whatever lifts your luggage" in conversation soon.

SATH


Tell her you can't tolerate her intolerance, and that she's wrong about gay people, and God, and that her bigotry and intolerance—which she has also directed at you—makes it impossible to be her friend.

period. the end.

Dan


OK. I will.

SATH

And you can add that you like her, think she's swell, and would love to be her friend—but her bigotry makes it impossible, at the moment, for you to be friends. Because being her friend means betraying your values and your LGBT friends. And you can't/shouldn't do that. Being gay isn't a choice. Bigotry is. Your gay friends can't stop being gay. This girl can can stop being a bigot—she may even be looking for a reason to stop. (She may be loudly proclaiming her anti-gay views because she's looking to have them just as loudly refuted.) All she needs is some incentive—and hearing can't-be-friends from you, learning that her bigotry is going to cost her friends (and isn't going to stop lesbians from being lesbians), may give her the incentive she needs to change.

And it's entirely possible that this girl is a lesbian herself and all of this bullshit—gays are evil, God hates 'em, they can change—is her externalizing her inner conflict, a la Haggard, Craig, Rekers, et al. All the more reason to stand up for what you believe, SATH. If you want to help this girl, refuse to tolerate her intolerance. Tell her you can't be friends. For now.

Dan

Alright. I think that would soften it up a little, because I don't want to seem like a total bitch. And if she doesn't take it, whatever. Being gay isn't a choice. Being her friend is.

SATH

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