FILE - Dan Savage
Charles Sykes, AP
SAVAGE LOVE LIVE
With: Dan Savage.
When: 8 p.m. Fri. 6/22
Where: Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Av., Mpls.
Tickets: $43.50. 800-982-2787 or hennepintheatretrust.org
Talking love or politics, he's still Savage
- Article by: SHARYN JACKSON
- Star Tribune
- June 22, 2012 - 8:59 AM
Dan Savage grabbed the public eye more than two decades ago as a raunchy, nationally syndicated sex advice columnist. ("Savage Love" runs locally in City Pages.) These days, the outspoken writer is making news for his no-holds-barred stances on same-sex marriage, bullying and homophobia.
As the creator of the "It Gets Better" project, a collection of inspirational videos geared toward lesbian and gay youth, Savage has gone from official bedroom advisor to unofficial spokesperson for the LGBT community. That doesn't always sit well with him.
"I'd rather write my sex advice column" than be scrutinized for his political and social opinions, Savage said in an interview last week. But he shows no signs of quieting down.
Friday, he comes to the Pantages to answer audience questions on love and sex, and dole out his take on Minnesota and what he calls its "problem." The likelihood that something he says will go viral is pretty high.
Q What kind of experiences have you had in the Twin Cities?
A You know, I first came to the Twin Cities in the '80s to see my college boyfriend who had graduated and gone to Minneapolis to run an independent movie house. And I loved it, but that's because all of my impressions were filtered through how besotted I was with my boyfriend. Unfortunately during the last couple years my impression has been impacted by the Anoka-Hennepin school district and [Minnesota congresswoman] Michele Bachmann. But every time I've visited I've had a total blast. I think the city and the state are better than the Anoka-Hennepin school district and Michele Bachmann.
Q Speaking of Anoka-Hennepin, and the controversy over how homosexuality is discussed in schools, and the tragedy in that district with a string of teen suicides, you've written that "Minnesota has a problem." What's the solution?
A One of the solutions is going to require long-term cultural change. We're talking about decades. We'll never eradicate homophobia any more than we've eradicated racism. The test of a culture isn't if it's hate-free, it's how we respond if hate is manifest. And what we saw in Anoka-Hennepin is culture failing, and many parents failing to respond appropriately.
I've said it before -- religious people need to learn to ignore what the Bible says about gay people, or seems to say, the same way they ignore what the Bible says about shellfish and slavery. We're not asking religious people to do anything they haven't already done, which is to let go of the parts of the Bible that discriminate. They've done it before with slavery and they can do it again with homosexuality.
Q You got in trouble for saying a similar thing at a school talk in April. Did you ever think when you started your career as a sex advice columnist that everything you said would be under such intense scrutiny?
A No, never ever ever. And it's a little ridiculous sometimes. But my day job is writing a funny, jokey, dirty sex advice column, and through no desire, I stumbled into this role of having to speak up in my defense. That I have this platform is A, a little ridiculous and B, an indictment of the national gay organizations.
Q Now that the anti-bullying movement is taking off, what are the other issues in the LGBT community that deserve attention?
A I think that LGBT elders is going to be a huge issue over the next 20 years. The Stonewall generation is hitting mid-60s, 70s, 80s. A lot of people who are elderly are having to go back into the closet, going into nursing homes and institutions run by the Catholic Church. We can't abandon the generation that made our lives possible, to be as open, out and integrated as we are now.
I really feel that right now there's this focus on LGBT children, and it's appropriate. They exist. We all had to pretend that gay people jumped fully formed out of the backs of gay bars at age 21, and now you have kids coming out to parents in 5th grade. Every gay adult remembers when they knew they were gay, and it wasn't at 18 when they got their driver's license.
Q The description of your show says you will be speaking about the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in Minnesota.
A Surprise! I'm against it! We can let that cat out of the bag. Spoiler alert!
Q What would you say to people who are in favor of a ban to convince them otherwise?
A It's always framed as you're for traditional marriage or you're for marriage equality. But there's nothing about marriage equality that undoes traditional marriage. I'm for traditional marriage. Two of my siblings are in traditional marriage.
We should start calling male-on-female rape "traditional" rape. Because if all "traditional" means is that it's between a man and woman, that's setting the bar pretty low.
Marriage equality has actually, in a way, affirmed marriage. I'm old and gay enough to remember when the haters -- religious conservatives -- when Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell ran around insisting gay people were a threat because we didn't marry, and we modeled for straight people this hedonistic lifestyle of this one big endless party, and we weren't grounded in family. And now we're told our desire to get married, raise our children, now that's a threat.
Q Do you notice a difference in the types of questions you get in person versus those emailed to you under the mask of anonymity for the column?
A We do a couple anonymous questions at the events. People submit them on cards so they can ask that question they're too embarrassed to stand up and be seen asking. The problem with live questions, is you have to separate the people who are bragging in the form of a sex question: "Here are the awesome crazy amazing sex things I'm doing. What do you think?" So I prefer the anonymous questions.
Q Have you ever been stumped when you've had to give advice on the spot?
A Oh sure, absolutely. One of the things I've always done with the column is pulling in guest experts, and that's actually happened during the show. I'll say, "I have no idea. Anybody?" And somebody will stand up and answer. That happened in Alaska, it was a very medical question, and a gynecologist stood up and I was very grateful.
Q What were some of the craziest questions you've gotten on tour?
A People give me their phone numbers -- that kind of freaks me out. I'm much more sexually repressed than people seem to realize.
Q Lastly, how sexy are Minnesotans?
A I'm a big Norwegian fan. I love those Scandinavian boys! Corn-fed Midwest boys. And St. Paul and Minneapolis are such draws -- all the gay boys from nearby end up moving there. We will always be refugees.
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