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October 7, 2005

The savage truth

Is he getting married in the morning?

Author, advice columnist, newspaper editor, activist and father Dan Savage is never at a loss for words.

He is currently on the road on a tour for his new book The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family.

Publishers Weekly called the book, “thought-provoking,” and said, “This timely book shows that being pro-family doesn’t have to mean being anti-gay.”

Savage also is the author of Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America’s Most Popular Sex Columnist, and The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant.

His internationally syndicate advice column “Savage Love” speaks to all issues sexual, personal, and political, with complete frankness and always with a scathing wit.

Savage spoke to the Gay People’s Chronicle via phone from San Francisco where he was peddling his latest tome.

Kaizaad Kotwal: How is the book tour going?

Dan Savage: It’s been great fun and very gratifying. Writing is such a solitary task, even the advice column. So it’s great to put a face to one’s audience--the ones my work has touched or even angered.

KK: What is your latest book about?

DS: It is about the situation I found myself in as my boyfriend and I were approaching our tenth anniversary in 2005 and my mother, who is a 65-year-old Catholic lady, was insisting we get married and our six-year-old boy didn’t want us to. And all this is within the context that the issue of gay marriage has exploded all over the country.

I am 40, and so much has changed so fast in my lifetime. My generation is facing choices we never ever thought we would have when we were coming out. When I came out at 15 it was assumed that one would live a life alone, without children, with the possibility of not being able to have certain jobs and other such issues.

KK: So what’s after the book tour for you?

DS: I will go home and collapse. And then I will go to focusing on being editor of The Stranger in Seattle--because writing a book is like passing a cinder block of a kidney stone. It will be nice to have just one thing to focus on instead of four.

KK: You have a very caustic wit, especially in your column. Where does that come from?

DS: From my family. My mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all people who never suffered fools lightly. We were a large argumentative, loud Irish family and if you were not prepared to defend your point of view with logic and clarity, you were torn apart. But it was always done with affection.

Some people think that I am being abusive to some of my readers in the column, but I am only being honest and it is always affectionate.

KK: You share your last name with one of America’s biggest right-wing homophobes: Michael Savage. Any comments?

DS: No, no, no. His last name is Weiner. Not Savage. He gives all of us Savages a bad name. We are all mad at him for dragging our good name through the muck.

I am not at all related to that Weiner. I have relations with wieners, but am not related to that Weiner.

KK: What are the biggest challenges facing the GLBT community from the outside?

DS: Well, it has to be the fight for gay marriage. We all have to engage in that fight and it is crucial that we get into that battle. We will win that fight if we engage in it. Take a look at AIDS. We got into that fight and we won. Not that we defeated the plague, but we did fight and defeat the external enemies who were using it to discriminate against HIV and AIDS patients and I remember there was even talk back then about putting gay folks in quarantine. We defeated the bigotry around the disease. Now we can defeat the external enemies of gay marriage, as long as we don’t hold out in our apartments smoking crystal meth, spending hours on the internet jacking off to porn.

KK: Speaking of, are crystal meth, internet porn and jacking off the biggest issues we face from within the community?

DS: Individually there is nothing wrong with the internet or jacking off. But all three together are pretty lethal. Seriously though, the biggest challenges from within the community are unsafe sex and stupidity such as this crystal meth epidemic. I know that there are gay people who say that external homophobia causes this addiction, but I don’t buy it.

Lesbians face the same homophobia and we don’t see large numbers of lesbians hooked on crystal. There is a romance with self-destruction in our community with things like barebacking, crystal and the down-low closet cases, but we should not play into that.

KK: You are Catholic and your leader has decided that he will officially decree that gay men no longer be allowed into the priesthood. What are your thoughts?

DS: First of all I am not a practicing Catholic, but what I call a cultural Catholic, and besides, Frau Benedict is not my leader.

Now, I am going to get into trouble for what I am going to say. First of all, gay men are no more likely to be pedophiles than straight men. But there is a problem with the kind of gay men who are attracted to the priesthood and they have to sign off to an organization that claims that homosexuality is a disorder. These men are intrinsically morally disordered. That is true. But not because they are gay, but because they are weirdoes fucked in the head with all their self-loathing, their repression. I really wonder who is going to be left? Eventually they will have to ordain women.

Savage will speak at Baldwin-Wallace College in suburban Cleveland on Thursday, October 13, at 8 p.m. in the ballroom of Strosacker College Union, 120 East Grand St., in Berea.

The presentation is free and open to the public, but tickets will be required. To reserve a ticket call 440-8262112.

His appearance at Baldwin-Wallace is sponsored by Allies, a campus organization for straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

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