I can’t believe anyone with even a passing familiarity with human nature finds this surprising (but then again, I also don’t write for Slate):
This week, though, the [Dan Savage] podcast started with an attack on Marcus Bachmann’s masculinity. After a short preamble about the accuracy of gaydar (with a scientific citation, no less), Savage—whom I respect tremendously—played a tape of Michelle’s husband’s speaking voice. Bachmann has a tiny bit of a lisp—though it’s barely perceptible—and he slurs his words slightly. To Savage’s ears, it was a gay accent. Savage played the tape over and over, and reprised it several times throughout the podcast. He even did his own Bachmann impression, exaggerating the lisp and camping it up.
In other words, the man who launched the “It Gets Better Project,” an effort to stop the bullying of gay teens, was acting like a big bully.
As Savage always notes, the kind of smear-the-queer taunts that can cause so much pain to young people aren’t aimed only at kids who are gay, they’re often aimed at boys who don’t live up to some mythical standard of masculinity and girls who just aren’t girly enough.
I can only imagine how listeners who happen to have the kind of lisping, effeminate speech and affect that Savage was ridiculing felt upon hearing the attack.