In American Savage: Insight, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics, outspoken sex columnist and gay-rights activist Dan Savage (The Kid) tells the world what’s wrong with it.
You serve up seriously unconventional advice in this book, including tips on marital infidelity!
It’s going to happen, so why not do it right? I’m not condoning serial adulterers who are abusing their partners or putting them at risk. But there are times when cheating can save a marriage—for example, when one spouse is seriously disabled and the other, to stay sane, gets his or her needs met elsewhere, discreetly. Or maybe it’s a terrific marriage except for very divergent needs for sex. It overemphasizes the importance of sex to say that, if a marriage is working in every area but sex, a spouse must divorce first and cheat second. There are times when people should cheat first and divorce not at all.
Your own same-sex marriage seems almost a model of wholesomeness. Is there a tension between the radical sex-advice columnist and your inner Ward Cleaver?
People who consider me the enemy of all things good and decent would be appalled at how Ozzie and Harriet it is around our house. People come over expecting a sling over our dining room table and a goat under it, and they’re just flummoxed: Terry and I are in bed at 9:30 p.m. most nights and sometimes we can’t make it through The Daily Show. But there are also times when we go to the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago and tear it up. Being parents should not preclude taking a walk on the wild side every once in a while.
Former Arkansas Governor and gay-marriage opponent Mike Huckabee has called you “unnecessarily rude, vile, and angry.” Agree or disagree?
I think I’m necessarily rude, vile, and angry. Mike would be too if people were going around describing his marriage as an abomination and his love for his spouse as sick, sinful, and perverse. That would piss Mike Huckabee off. No one is saying that to Mike Huckabee, but Mike Huckabee is saying that to me.
Have you ever felt that being less...
Less pugnacious? Less of an asshole?
...might serve your cause better?
This is who I am, and this is how I speak and write and feel. I am, like a lot of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] people, past the point of feeling obligated to be flawlessly and faultlessly polite at all times to people who say that I am an abomination. Yeah, maybe I say it in a more vulgar fashion. A movement for social justice needs all types; if you want a kind, hand-wringing, polite response to a Mike Huckabee, that’s what Human Rights Campaign press releases are for.