The recent launch of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign on MTV networks is failing to gain momentum among progressives because the campaign itself is myopic. While I applaud Savage for responding to the increasing number of gay and lesbian suicides that often follow bullying and violence, the framing of this campaign gives me pause. The campaign was developed in response to a culmination of the heartrending stories of gay and lesbian youth suicides (some of whom were youth of color-many of which have historically been unable to get national or even local media attention) within the media that reached its apex with the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, a white gay male.
WARNING: Do not read the comments. Clueless fail abounds!
“Savage is prioritizing White gayness as more worthy of attention than Blackness. The problem here relates to the concerns around the motivations behind “It Gets Better,” where again, it appears that Black bodies don’t matter, or, they only matter if and only if they are designated as queer. Moreover, those non-queer Black bodies are imagined as existing outside of the frame of citizenship because they ostensibly violate the rights of enfranchised (White) gay men.
“The position against anti-gay violence is not at all in contradiction with anti-Black or Anti-Arab and/or Muslim violence. A stance against anti-gay violence is unacceptable if it only imagines the White gay subject as its focus. This framework defines the rights and liberties of people of color as diametrically opposed to the further entitlement of white gay men. We, white/queer/male folk, who are the beneficiaries of privileging discourses and practices like the ones Savage employs, must speak out and act up. It is unacceptable that violence against Gay (read: White) men is intolerable while violence against non-white peoples is normalized and accepted.”