Via his syndicated newspaper column, “Savage Love,” and his “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign, Dan Savage serves as one of the country’s loudest advocates for same-sex equality and all-sex sexual freedom. Sunday at the W hotel, he’ll read from “American Savage” ($18, Dutton Adult), his new essay collection on subjects like his 15-year-old son, D.J., and his own “monogamish” marriage.
Any advice for someone going to the Capital Pride celebration for the first time this year?
Remember, at Pride, there’s a lot of dress-up. The same person who’s a drag queen one day can be a leather daddy the next day and then a button-down guy the following day. The dyke on bike can be a corporate lawyer. You’ll see there are lots of different kinds of gay people. It isn’t monolithic.
Your new book talks about how same-sex couples adopting children is much more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries. Why so?
Freedom! Parental authority here is guarded as absolute. And that’s somehow extended to queer couples. There wasn’t this orgy of legalizing adoptions by gay people, they were just never illegal. Better gay or lesbian parents than no parents.
It seems like there’s been a sudden surge of support for same-sex marriage. Why do you think that is?
It comes down to people being out to their friends, families and colleagues. Part of what brought that tipping point about was Massachusetts and the first few states [that legalized same-sex marriage]. It suddenly became not a scary unknown, but a thing that was actually happening. It wasn’t destroying anyone else’s marriages, and if Americans weren’t so myopic, they would have realized that long ago.
Will assimilation kill LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) history?
If anything, LGBT history is being taught now in California as a result of assimilation and integration. I wrote years ago that I don’t think assimilation is a bad thing — assimilation is what we wanted. We wanted to be treated equally. But we wanted to be assimilated on our own terms, and, by God, we are doing that.
What does the LGBT community fight for next?
A push around trans and gender identity issues, to make the world a safer place for all people who are gender nonconforming.
How far do you think all Americans have come in having healthier, happier relationships during your 20 years as a columnist?
You never want to say anything good came out of the AIDS epidemic, but it forced a conversation about what people were actually doing in bed, and what was advisable and inadvisable. It shifted to what was good/bad, safe/unsafe, healthy/unhealthy. As gay people began to talk more openly about sexual practices, straight people began to do the same thing. It inspired a conversation among heterosexuals that has improved their sex lives.
Well everyone wants better sex.