Dan Savage got glitterbombed for being transphobic: it’s all over (my) Facebook. For the most part, I think that’s great. He’s said a lot of transphobic things, and to my knowledge, he’s never truly apologized or shown that he realizes why they was problematic and hurtful. I know: I called him on it when he spoke at Bryn Mawr my senior year, and he basically side-stepped the question.
On the other hand, I feel a bit weird saying “yay” to any kind of bombing, even one as harmless as a shower of glitter. Maybe that it’s just me being ridiculous, but it makes me uncomfortable. It feels like using the word in this kind of context trivializes it, which is a problem given how devastatingly serious bombs are in other situations.
My other reaction, honestly, was that it’s unfair to whoever needs to clean it up. If you didn’t know, glitter makes a mess. It gets everywhere, and it’s difficult to clean up properly. There are still little bits of glitter shining out from wherever they’re hiding, even after you’ve spent a bunch of time sweeping and vacuuming. If the person throwing the glitter is going to clean up, fine. But if a cleaning person is going to be stuck with the mess, that’s just not fair. Sequins might be a better choice — similarly sparkly and easier to tidy up.
On a more serious note, some people argue that divisiveness within the LGBT community gets us nowhere. While it’s true that we shouldn’t get distracted for petty reasons, there also needs to be a way to keep people accountable. People like Dan Savage (a white, cis, able-bodied, gay man with a certain amount of class privilege) won’t do much good for the community if they leave the rest of us behind.
If we excuse Dan Savage’s transphobic, racist, misogynist, and rape-apologist statements just because he’s been visible and vocal regarding mainstream gay rights issues (and, to some extent, queer and sex-positive issues) — and started the “It Gets Better” project — we send a message that that kind of language is acceptable. We privilege certain groups of people over others.
Making people like Dan Savage beyond reproach actually weakens the LGBT / queer / trans community and movement (pretending for a moment that there is one). We’ll never get where we want to go if we settle for good enough — we won’t ever reach a point when people are free to be who and how they are and want to be, without fear of violence or discrimination, if we settle for just aiming to get a certain segment of people accepted into a more narrow-minded society.
I’m not saying that we should disregard everything Dan Savage has ever done. But we should think critically about what he says, educating and holding him accountable when he is problematic, as we should with all leaders. We should want to change our society, not ourselves to fit society, and that change starts with our own communities. How will we achieve anything real and lasting if we can’t even hold ourselves accountable, if we aren’t willing to learn and change when we’re wrong?