Friday, November 02, 2012

I Botched Up, And I Apologize

On Wednesday I challenged a gay caller, Wess, who expressed his support for Mitt Romney. While expressing the thought that any gay person who votes for Romney is doing himself harm, I began an analogy in the wrong place. After the caller said he voted for Romney, I said he should just get some arsenic, make a potion, and take it, which would be more painless. Not because I thought he should kill himself—I do not think gay Romney supporters should kill themselves—but because voting for someone who is committed to undermining your rights is a self-destructive behavior.
 Any gay person who votes for Romney is undermining his own life, his own rights, and the lives and rights of all other LGBT people. And let’s be clear: It is Romney, with his bigoted positions (“Some gays are actually having children. It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact.”), who feeds a culture of hate that leads to gay teen suicides.
At first, I was criticized by angry, sometimes vile Romney supporters on Twitter while Obama supporters on the show and on Twitter seemed to get the point I was trying to make and defended me. I was defensive initially too, including yesterday on the show, pointing out that I was using a metaphor. We can get lost in the partisan fog of war during a heated election battle.
 But after talking with friends over dinner last night, and after reading Andrew Sullivan’s take this morning, I can now see that my statement was not just jarring but offensive—certainly in the current climate of gay teen suicides. Sullivan is not some far-right gay Romney supporter; indeed, Sullivan and I are on the same side in the current political climate.  We both support Obama and, contrary to Sullivan’s rather silly characterization of me as “far left,” he and I are actually in the same place on many issues these days, even including the role of ACT UP and direct action. We certainly agree on the issues of bullying and teen suicide, issues about which I’ve been very outspoken and passionate.  If Sullivan didn’t get the point I was trying to make then I must have made it very badly.
 I'm not making excuses, but sometimes, when you’re on the radio for four hours a day, things come out backwards. Live talk radio is essentially thinking out loud and sometimes our thoughts come out garbled. Again, I'm not making excuses, and certainly listeners have a right to expect that someone who hosts a radio show is going to be a little better at thinking out loud than the average person. And I like to think that I usually am. But it seems that all my engines weren't firing this week. Like a lot of New Yorkers, I was operating on little sleep, with hurricane fatigue, and displaced family and friends. It was a recipe for total botch up. And I botched this one.
My apologies to Wess, and to my listeners.