Mondays at City Paper are crazy, as the staff hurries to make sure everything is in place for another delicious steaming-hot pile of Baltimore’s Best Alternative Weekly. At some point every Monday, Dan Savage’s syndicated “Savage Love” column comes across my desk. I am nominally “editing” the column, but because it comes in print-ready form from Seattle’s alt-weekly, The Stranger, where Savage is the editorial director, it rarely needs to be changed at all. Instead, it’s kind of a break amid the chaos to hear Savage’s words of wisdom on everything from fisting to stale marriages, always delivered with perfect wit, humor, and gutter language.
common question I get now is, I call it the “unscrew the pooch” question, where someone has completely fucked up everything, and they run to me with a screwed pooch and say, “help me unscrew this pooch.” [Laughs] So it’s all these situations, like really complicated situations, and the advice is harder to give. It’s like situational ethics, as opposed to—ya know, the column about how a butt plug works is an easy column to write and I could write it in my sleep. I could write it in my sleep and I frequently did. The column where I really have to pay attention to nuance and circumstance and take two or more people’s feeling and possible positions into account, those are hard to write, and that’s all the mail these days.
the one who sometimes describes me as an LGBT activist or a spokesperson for the gay community. I’ve never described myself in those terms. I’m a gay person with a mouth
and a platform and I will use it as an activist to benefit the LGBT community when appropriate when I can and where I can. But I do not speak for all queer people, and thank God, because there are a lot of queer out there who are idiots and I wouldn’t want to speak for them.
parents were bullies, then it just occurred to me that with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, particularly YouTube, that we could speak to these kids without their parents’ permission, that we could reach into their phones, and their computers, and their schools, and their homes, and we could share our perspective with them. You know, that kid is bullied because of his race or her class or his faith, they go home to parents of the same race, same class, same faith that they can turn to for support, that they know that if they tell them, you know, an African-American kid goes home and tells his African-American parents that he’s being bullied because of his race knows that he’s gonna have two advocates on his side who will march into that school and raise holy hell. A queer kid who goes home may not feel comfortable telling his parents he’s gay because he doesn’t know how they’re gonna react. And he’s right to fear that. Forty percent of homeless youth are queer kids who were thrown out after they came out to their parents. So he doesn’t have that support, he doesn’t have advocates. And one of the things you get from your parents, it isn’t just advocacy, but perspective. They will tell you how they got through it, they will share their stories of the bullying or the racism or sexism or anti-Semitism that they encounter and how they survived it, what they did, what their strategy was. But a gay kids goes home, or a lesbian kid or a bi kid or a trans kid and doesn’t get that, they can’t expect that from their almost invariably heterosexual family members. And the idea behind the project was, we could get that to those queer kids. We could bring that adult into their lives, bring those adults into their lives who could offer them that perspective and advice, those strategies that they couldn’t get from their own parents or aren’t getting from
their own parents.