You wrote this two weeks ago: “Hello, straight people?…Most of you seem content to merely rubberneck while gay people have the shit kicked out of us, and while that’s maddening, I suppose it’s understandable. It’s not your fight. But what explains your passivity when your own rights are being attacked?”
I think it’s bullshit that the American Family Association is against the human-papillomavirus vaccine. I agree with you 100 percent that something needs to be done for the rights of both homosexuals and heterosexuals, but as a straight guy I really have no clue what to do about either fight. Can you give us straight folks a good jumping-off point? How do we make our voices heard?
—No Clever Anagram Here
To protect straight rights, NCAH, the first thing you need to do is vote—and make sure your friends and family vote, too. (Unless they vote Republican, in which case you need to tear up their voter-registration cards.) But voting isn’t enough.
“We live in a time when privacy is under attack, and sexual privacy is a prime target,” Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told me to tell you. “The list of offenses is long and growing: Politicians use billions of taxpayer dollars to withhold vital sexual-health information from teens; the [Food and Drug Administration] keeps emergency contraception under lock and key; and lawmakers sanction pharmacies’ refusal to fill birth-control prescriptions. It is time to pull out all the stops and push back.”
So how do you push back? Well, you could become a card-carrying member of the ACLU (www.aclu.org), along with People for the American Way (www.pfaw.org) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (www.au.org). To specifically protect your reproductive freedoms, you could join Planned Parenthood (www.plannedparenthood.org), and NARAL Pro-Choice America (www.naral.org).
But it’s not enough to be a card-carrying member of these organizations, NCAH; you need to be an active member. When I called NARAL to ask ’em what you could do, Nancy Keenan, the group’s president, suggested you get on the phone. “All Americans who value the constitutionally protected zone of privacy should call their senators and ask them to oppose Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor—judicial nominees under consideration in the Senate who illustrate the threat to individual freedom and personal privacy,” said Keenan. “Federal judges are on the bench for life, and President Bush is determined to flood the courts with far-right judicial activists who are hostile to privacy.”
Making phone calls and writing letters? Dull stuff, yes, but they’re infinitely more effective than marching in circles around Washington, D.C.
If you sincerely want to get involved in the fight for gay rights, Jennifer Gerarda Brown, co-author of Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, had a few suggestions: “There are dozens of specific things that straight allies can do to promote gay rights,” said Brown. “You can tell your kids that it’s fine for women to love women and for men to love men. You can ask your employer to promise not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. You can work with your child’s school to make sure that classes and course materials validate LGBT people. Engage people in your local churches, office, and government in this dialogue.”
Now get busy.—Dan
I thought you would like to know that a Wisconsin state lawmaker is trying to ban the University of Wisconsin’s student health center from dispensing, advertising, or prescribing birth control, including emergency contraception for rape victims. Rep. Daniel LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), who sponsored the bill, says birth control “encourages female promiscuity.” Just another battle in the religious right’s war on sexuality.—Steve Z.
Here’s a fun fact: Danny LeMahieu’s bill wouldn’t stop the student health centers in Wisconsin from passing out condoms to male students. This means that the gay boys at UW would have all the condoms they needed for virus control, while heterosexual students would have to go without birth control. Danny’s bill discriminates against heterosexual students exclusively—see, straight people? The American Taliban are after your asses, too.
Does this assault on straight rights piss you off, my heterosexual readers? Then pick up your damn phones and call Danny at (608) 266-9175 and tell him to stick his bad bill, AB 343, right up his pasty white ass. Or better yet, call Danny on his dime, and call Danny often, at (888) 534-0059. If any angry straight people would prefer to send Danny a note, his mailing address is Room 17 North, State Capitol, P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI, 53708. Danny’s home address is on his Web site, which I found by Googling his name. I don’t think it would be cricket (Anglicism) or kosher (Yiddishism) or K-Y (gayism) to send angry letters to Danny’s home, so I’m not going to put his home address in my column, even though his home mailing address is right there on his Web site. Which I found by Googling his name. Ahem.
All you pissed-off straight folks might want to put a call in to Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, too, and demand that he veto Danny’s anti-straight-rights bill if it manages to reach his desk.—Dan
I was listening to National Public Radio this morning after dropping my son off at school. Very rarely can a single word make me laugh, but a mention of “Santorum” did. Your campaign to link Sen. Rick Santorum’s name with a sexual byproduct worked perfectly. I hope he knows that thousands and thousands of people laugh at just the mention of his name. —Wendy
Thanks for the nice note, Wendy, and speaking of Rick Santorum: The New York Times Magazine smeared Santorum all over its cover last weekend. Michael Sokolove’s profile explored absolutely everything about the Republican junior senator from Pennsylvania—including another retelling of the dark and scary night when Rick Santorum and his equally creepy wife, Karen Garver Santorum, spent the night in bed with a dead fetus (after making their children cuddle and kiss their deceased near-sibling). There was one glaring omission, however: Sokolove’s profile doesn’t cover my wildly successful effort to link the senator with the substance. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex was never mentioned—outrageous!
The new meaning of the word “santorum” has successfully entered the English language, popping up in books, articles, and magazines without reference to my column or to www.spreadingsantorum.com. The new meaning is still the No. 1 result when you Google “Santorum,” it won the American Dialect Society’s Most Outrageous Word of the Year award at last year’s Linguistic Society of America convention, and it will no doubt appear in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Like Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian politician who collaborated with the Nazis and whose name is now a synonym for “traitor,” Rick Santorum has achieved an infamous immortality. Forevermore, when someone looks down at his dick or her strap-on during anal sex and sees that unwelcome guest, that frothy mix, he shall be remembered! His name will be invoked! “Oh crap, santorum!” people will say, long after Santorum himself is dead. How could the New York Times, our national paper of record, overlook the success Savage Love readers have achieved in bestowing this singular honor on Sen. Rick Santorum? I trust a correction is forthcoming.
Dan Savage’s Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (Dutton) is available at bookstores nationwide. Send your Savage Love questions to email@example.com.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Illustration by Robert Ullman.