The Power of Dan Savage

It turns out Dan Savage's 7-year-old son is opposed to gay marriage.

"I think it's funny," says the syndicated sex/relationship columnist, whose column appears in dozens of alternative newsweeklies around the country, including the Tucson Weekly. When asked where young D.J. picked up such an opinion--it wasn't from either of his two dads--Savage says he hasn't the faintest idea.

While Savage is firmly in the camp that believes gay couples should have the right to marry, his feelings about the subject are rather complex. He'll elaborate on these feelings in his new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family, slated for release in September. They'll also undoubtedly come up during his appearance in Tucson. Dan Savage will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at--sit down for this one--the Joel D. Valdez Main Library at 101 N. Stone Ave., in the lower-level meeting room. The event is free, thanks to the GLBT Services Committee of the Tucson-Pima Public Library and the Friends of the TPPL.

Savage's appearance couldn't be more timely. The library is bringing him to town for Gay Pride Month, just weeks after the Center for Arizona Policy officially announced an initiative-petition drive to ban all "counterfeit marriages" in the state--in other words, anything from a domestic-partnership registry on up--for both gay and straight couples.

"Gay marriage should be legal," says Savage, "(but) not compulsory."

The Commitment will be the fourth book for Savage, who also works as the editor of The Stranger, a Seattle alternative newsweekly. One book was a collection of columns; then came The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant, a hilarious and at-times moving book about the adoption by Savage and his boyfriend, Terry, of what is now a 7-year-old gay-marriage opponent. The next was Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America.

Both books were hits.

"The Kid's still selling like crazy," Savage says. "It's on a lot of adoption agencies' reading lists--not just for gay couples, but all of them." He says that The Kid--unlike many other adoption-themed books--takes a nonsentimental approach to a long and involved process that is often far from sentimental. "Adoptive parents are under a lot of pressure. It feels really different having a kid by writing a bunch of checks rather than by fucking."

Then came Skipping Towards Gomorrah, in which Savage committed each of the seven deadly sins (or at least tried to) and wrote about them. "It made The New York Times best-seller list," Savage says. "So now my publicist calls me a best-selling author."

Because of all this, hopes are high for The Commitment. "It's sort of a sequel to The Kid, in a way," he says. "We sort of did it backwards" by having the kid first and then discussing marriage.

This is all well and good, but let's face it: Most Weekly readers know Savage not from his books, but from Savage Love. The column, which has been in the Weekly for the last two-plus years (in addition to a brief stint a while back), got its start in 1991. Though that was 14 short years ago, times were quite different. At first, the column stunned a hell of a lot of people. Why? Every letter started with the salutation "Hey, Faggot!" for one thing. And then there was the subject matter ...

"I was writing about fisting and analingus and water sports, and not writing in a 'thou shalt not' way," Savage says. "I told the truth."

Savage insists that he hasn't changed the column (other than dropping the "Hey, Faggot!" salutation, which died along with the big hate-word reclamation push in the mid-1990s--"It was played out," Savage notes), but society has changed. More papers previously afraid to run such a column became more willing, and now, Savage Love is read by millions of folks each week. And the column has power--through the efforts of Savage and readers, far-rightwing Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., now has an, um, occasional sexual byproduct named after him. This new definition of santorum has made its way into the lexicon, and a Google search of the word brings up the senator's Web site as the No. 2 (*ahem*) link--right behind Savage's "Spreading Santorum" Web site.

Amen for that. And amen that we live in a town that would actually have its library invite Savage down for a visit.

Free parking for the June 15 event is available in the parking garage under the library; access it from Alameda Street. And don't forget to head to the Rialto Theatre after Savage's visit for the Weekly's Tucson Area Music Awards, aka the TAMMIES.

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