Dan Savage grew up in a Catholic family in Chicago. Z.: You posted the video with a comment that: “Too many of the queer social justice warriors rattling around on Tumblr and Twitter are more interested in “criticizing allies for not doing it perfectly.” Doesn’t this kind of statement kind of rattle the beehive?At 18 years old, he came out as gay to his family, who after one rocky summer, Savage says, became aggressively supportive. Today, his name is synonymous with gay activism and sex positivism. You speak so confidently that people assume that you see yourself as the end-all authority on everything. S.: (Laughs) One of my first editors at The Stranger was this really wonderful woman named Christine Wenc. S.: Find me the writer on earth that any single individual agrees with about everything. I read things I wrote five or 10 years ago and I’m like, “Wow.
His journey to Seattle was all determined in a serendipitous moment at an independent film store in Madison, Wisc. There are people on the left I disagree with and I regard them as my comrades in rhetorical arms with whom I have these small disagreements – not people that I have to crucify.
Savage was the store manager, and there he befriended Tim Keck, co-founder of The Onion. S.: Sometimes when people don’t read my column very closely, they will say that I sign off on anything and I think that people should do whatever they want. And it’s not all people who disagree with me on the left who have that reaction.
One day, Keck announced that he was moving to Seattle to help start an alternative weekly newspaper titled The Stranger. But if you read the column, there is a moralizing sort of core to it – a moral sensibility. S.: I used to go to my mom, but sadly she is deceased. It’s these self-appointed, bat-shit, thought police, psychopaths who would rather go after someone who is actually going to listen to them and pay attention to them. Why with so much agitos and activism around the trans issue right now, there is this ...going after Germaine Greer?!
Savage made an offhand comment advising Keck to include an advice column. Savage typed up a sample, and, to his delight, Keck offered him the job. Of course it’s an affirmation of the column and the podcast, that people who are familiar with them, and then who I get to know personally, feel like I am a safe, and perhaps wise, person to confide in or ask for input. If you put all of the columns in a pot and boiled them down, you would come out with: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With the understanding that people are doing unto each other in my listening universe possibly, something very different, than in the Sunday school universe. I don’t think that because someone will let you use them, that it’s OK to use them. You don’t get to be the rocks that they throw themselves against and escape without being compromised or damaged yourself. I often go to my siblings and some really good friends that I can confide in and say anything to. Bill O’Reilly is not going to give you the time of day. Not every word that I’ve written about transgendered people’s issues has been perfect, but we all know a lot more now than we did 25 years ago when I started writing the column. Let’s go throw glitter at Germaine Greer (Greer was glitter bombed by a group of protesters in 2012 for her 2009 comments about trans women) and the people at Fox News can leave the building unmolested every day.
Twenty-five years later, Dan Savage is still “America’s Sweetheart.” On Feb. It can get a little crushing, but I’m pretty insulated. I don’t go out much – we’re very boring people, Terry and I. Do unto others and be thoughtful about your actions and choices. But the person I often go to, to process and hash things out with is Terry. Think Progress has done this wonderful job documenting all of the really vicious and vile and dangerous anti-trans bigotry and rhetoric that FOX News is pumping into homes all over America in red states and arguably endangering trans people’s lives. I’m saying I have not gotten everything right over the 25 years I’ve been writing. I proposed to some trans folks: You announce the demo at Fox News HQ in midtown Manhattan, and I will be there. Google “trans” and “Keith Ablow” and see what comes up and then compare it to anything I ever said that trans people objected to. My theory is that you don’t look at people and present them with a huge problem and make them feel helpless.
13, Dan Savage will be recording a Savage Love podcast and hosting “Unlucky in Love – A Pre-Valentine’s Pity Party” at Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., as part of the new venue’s soft opening. Terry (Miller, his parter of 20 years) is very protective. Twenty years together and fairly often on the same page about relationship and sex issues — we are each other’s sounding boards. Z.: You have many critics, many of whom are the conservative, “Family Values” crowd. There are no demonstrations at FOX News headquarters. But in the aggregate, I have a lot more (good things) to show than shit. And I will talk it up and will make sure that my readers know about it and as many of them that can get there will be there. What (Ablow) is saying is insanely toxic and there is no Tumblr war on Keith Ablow. The only time I use it is to talk about how I stopped using it. Because all of the stir and drive about it online is in the present tense. Z.: You and your partner began “It Gets Better” in 2010. You look at people and you present them with something they can do: a doable thing.The show is sold out, but we had a chance to talk with Savage about family, giving advice and, of course, those critics. But many of your critics are feminists, bisexual and transgendered people. And yet these trans activists, often allies of trans people, not actual trans people, will come to my speech in protest because I’m an anti-trans bigot. I am listening and paying attention and my position is evolving. The organization’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them. The project is LBGT adults sharing their stories, their lives, their strategies for how they got through it, how they made it (life) better for themselves.Does criticism from feminist, LBGTQ community or other left-leaning groups affect you differently than criticism from the ‘moral Right.’ D. Some people are bizarrely invested in this caricature of who I am and what I’ve said and what I’ve done and what I believe. How they survived their adolescence with LGBT kids who might not have access to LBGT adult role models – and that is really crucial.A kid is bullied because of his race or her faith or his class, goes home to his or her parents and siblings and aunts and uncles or grandparents and they are the same race, same class, same faith who will support them if they open up about the bullying they are facing.And even if they don’t talk about it, they are living examples of perseverance – you can get through this.Queer kids all too often go home to no queer role models or to parents, as in Leelah Alcorn’s case. Z.: (Leelah Alcorn was a transgender girl who, citing loneliness, abuse and alienation, committed suicide in December and posted her suicide note online.)D. S.: There are lots of “It Gets Better” videos that talk about that.