Dan Savage grew up in “a loud, argumentative, and very Catholic” family, and came out as gay as fruit cocktail.
In 1991 he was the night manager at an independent video store in Madison, Wisconsin, when a co-worker told him he was planning to move to Seattle and start a new alternative newspaper. Savage, a self-described “pushy busybody”, replied, “You have to have an advice column. Everybody hates them, but everybody reads them”. And suddenly Savage, who’d never considered himself a writer before, was a snarky “Dear Abby” for the sexually active.
Savage’s column, “Savage Love”, first appeared in 1991, in the first issue of The Stranger. Readers of any sexual persuasion were invited to seek Savage’s pithy advice with the salutation “Hey faggot”, an attempt by Savage to make the word more socially acceptable. In 1999, Savage announced he’d grown weary of “Hey faggot”, possibly because a lot of readers thought “Hey faggot” not “Savage Love” was the name of the column.
Is Savage fueling the fire or are his points legitimate?
A letter to Dan Savage
I heard an interview with you about your It Gets Better campaign. I was saddened and frustrated with your comments regarding people of faith and their perpetuation of bullying. As someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage, I can honestly say I was heartbroken to hear about the young man who took his own life.
If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man.
To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.
Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.
Dan Savage’s Response
I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings.
A question: Do you “support” atheist marriage? Interfaith marriage? Divorce and remarriage? All are legal, all go against Christian and/or traditional ideas about marriage, and yet there’s no “Christian” movement to deny marriage rights to atheists or people marrying outside their respective faiths or people divorcing and remarrying. Why the hell not?
Sorry, L.R., but so long as you support the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, it’s clear that you do believe that some people—straight people—are “better or more worthy” than others.
And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.
Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not “sinners.” Gay and lesbian children.
Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children.
Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?
Did that hurt to hear? Good. But it couldn’t have hurt nearly as much as what was said and done to Asher Brown and Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and Cody Barker and Seth Walsh—day in, day out for years—at schools filled with bigoted little monsters created not in the image of a loving God, but in the image of the hateful and false “followers of Christ” they call Mom and Dad.