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In 1991, Dan Savage was working at a video store when he befriended Tim Keck, cofounder of The Onion. Keck was starting an alternative newspaper, and Savage quipped, “Make sure your paper has an advice column—everybody claims to hate ’em, but everybody seems to read ’em.” He was half joking, but Keck took him seriously and made him a weekly columnist for The Stranger.
An urban homosexual in his twenties, Dan wrote about what he knew best: sex. He began writing “Savage Love” with the express goal of mocking heterosexuals. “I just thought it would be funny for once if there was an advice column written by a gay person where straight people had to get slapped around or treated with contempt,” he reflected later. But readers took him seriously, and he adopted a sort of “Dear Abby” stance toward Gen-X and Gen-Y-ers.
In addition to “Savage Love,” which is now internationally syndicated, he has written six books, he has hosted a call-in radio show, and he appears on TV and other media outlets, usually pontificating on sex, religion, or politics. In 1998, Dan and his boyfriend Terry adopted newborn Daryl Jude (D.J.) Pierce through an open adoption. The three live in Seattle.
Dan’s bluster might have negligible effect if he presented himself as a two-bit comedian. But he opines on issues of serious consequence—like relationships, sex, politics, and parenting—in flippant prattle that lacks any grounding or coherence. “I waver between a cop-out agnosticism and principled atheism . . . [but] I describe myself as Irish Catholic. It’s a cultural thing,” he wrote, explaining his decision to have D.J. baptized. His work is not so much about giving advice as it is about defying decent people’s sensibilities. The day after D.J. was baptized, Dan and his brothers “baptized D.J. a second time” at Wrigley Field, affirming their belief in “family, the Cubs, and beer” by pouring beer over D.J.’s forehead.
He particularly takes aim at public sensibilities about sex. For Dan, sex is not just a part of life; sex is and should be the controlling force of life. “We’re told that when we grow up we will have sex,” he said in an interview about sex education. But “the truth is, when we grow up, sex will have us. . . . Sex is in charge.”
Most Recent Assault:
Sex has him, and he wants sex to have the next generation, too. In late 2010, in the wake of a few highly publicized teen suicides, Dan and Terry launched their “anti-bullying,” YouTube-based “It Gets Better,” project with the laudable goal of coming alongside sexually confused teens and telling them that, although the teen years are tough, life gets better as they get older.
But in Savage-land, for “It” to get better, the “Religious Right” and Christianity must be silenced, if not extinguished. Because for Dan Savage, any position short of full-throated endorsement of the LGBT agenda constitutes hatred, bigotry, and accomplice to the murder-via-suicide of troubled kids. “[Y]ou are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children,” he wrote to L.R., a Christian parent. “Your . . . hatred and fear . . . it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.” Anyone holding a contrary view to his must be denied the right to free speech, if not the right to exist. “I wish they were all f-ing dead,” he said, referring to Republicans.
If that’s how Savage love works, those troubled youth had better look elsewhere for “It” to get better. Savage-land has the bigger bullies. •
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