Dan Savage

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Daniel Keenan Savage (born 7 October 1964 near Chicago, Illinois) is an openly gay American sex-advice columnist, author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor whose strong opinions pointedly clash with both traditional conservative moral values and those put forth by what Savage has been known to call the "gay establishment". He is also a playwright and theater director, both under his real name and under the name Keenan Hollahan, using his middle name and his grandmother's maiden name.

His internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column is Savage Love. Its tone is humorous, profane, and on occasion hostile to conservative opponents, as in the Santorum controversy. His first break came while in Madison, Wisconsin, as a manager at a local video store. A friend from The Onion newspaper was starting up The Stranger and asked him to be their sex-advice columnist. Savage originally conceived of the column as mainly advice for heterosexuals from a queer nationalist, and wanted to call the column "Hey Faggot!" His editors at the time refused his choice of column name, but for the first several years of the column, he attached "Hey Faggot!" at the beginning of each printed letter as a salutation. The idea that he was primarily a "neutral party" advising heterosexuals quickly fell away; today, gays are disproportionately represented among his correspondents, although he takes numerous questions from heterosexuals as well. Recently, he has written in a number of columns about "straight rights" concerns, such as the HPV vaccine and the morning-after pill, saying in his 9 November 2005, column that "[t]he right-wingers and the fundies and the sex-phobes don't just have it in for the queers. They're coming for your asses too."

In addition to authoring four books, Savage is currently the editor of the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger and a contributor to This American Life, an hour-long radio show on Chicago's WBEZ syndicated by Public Radio International (PRI). From at least September 1994 until 1997, he had a weekly 2-hour call-in show called Savage Love Live on Seattle's KCMU (now KEXP). From 1998 to 2000, he ran the bi-weekly advice column Dear Dan on the news website abcnews.com.

His political bent is leftist/libertarian/American-liberal, but he does not shy away from defending unexpected positions: he disapproves of the gay pride theme (considering it something whose time has passed) and has called for harsher civil penalties against people who knowingly place others at risk of HIV. He himself describes his view towards family as "conservative", frowning on parents who both work (his boyfriend is a "stay-at-home dad" for the couple's adopted son), but at the same time is skeptical towards the concept of monogamy. In general, he is very open-minded on non-mainstream sex acts, but less open-minded on non-mainstream terms of relationships. It would be hard to think of a specific sexual practice he would disapprove of for other than health reasons, and he constantly advises people to be "good, giving, and game" in terms of what their partners are into. He often writes about the need for honesty in relationships and about the ability to be honest with someone being a key in picking a partner. However, he clearly has issues about bisexuals (his overt attitude being that bisexuals should date other bisexuals and leave the rest of us alone), and doesn't really seem to know what to make of polyamory.

He has often clashed with those other perceived leaders of Seattle's gay community. For example, he has often expressed contempt for the editorial calibre of the Seattle Gay News and under his editorship, The Stranger frequently publishes criticisms of the messages put out by local AIDS organizations and of how they handle their money. He is also friends with the controversial gay pundit and self-labeled South Park Republican Andrew Sullivan, whose influential blog (http://www.andrewsullivan.com) he took over for a week in August 2005 while Sullivan was on vacation.

After growing up in Chicago, Savage studied theatre and history. As a writer and director for theater, in the mid-1990s Savage (working under the name "Keenan Hollahan") was founder of Seattle's Greek Active Theater which mainly staged queer re-contextualizations of classic works, such as a tragi-comic Macbeth with both the titular character and Lady Macbeth played by performers of the opposite gender. More recently, in March 2001 he directed his own "Egguus," a parody of Peter Shaffer's 1973 play Equus, undercutting its stodginess by substituting a fixation on chickens for a fixation on horses.

Savage surprised many of his readers by writing in his syndicated sex advice column: "I'm Catholic in a cultural sense, not an eat-the-wafer, say-the-rosary, burn-down-the-women's-health-center sense. I attended |Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, a Catholic high school in Chicago for boys thinking of becoming priests. I got to meet the pope in 1979 when he dropped by our school during his visit to Chicago" [1]. Shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II, he wrote in the same column that:

John Paul II had more "no's" for straight people than he did for gays. But when he tried to meddle in the private lives of straights, the same people who deferred to his delicate sensibilities where my rights were concerned suddenly blew [him] off. Gay blowjobs are expendable, it seems; straight ones are sacred.
So I can't get behind this orgy of cheap and easy piety... I'm sorry the old bastard's dead, I'm sorry he suffered. But I'm not so sorry that I won't stoop to working John Paul II into a column about zombie fetishism.

On 31 December 2002, after columnist Ann Landers' June 22 death, Savage purchased her desk.


  • Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist (1998) (ISBN 0452278155), a collection of letters from his column.
  • The Kid (1999) (ISBN 0525945253), relating how he and his boyfriend adopted a baby boy.
  • Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (2002) (ISBN 0452284163), which describes his exploration of the seven deadly sins (The title is a satiric reference to Robert Bork's book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.)
  • The Commitment : Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (2005) (ISBN 0525949070), a memoir of his life, relationship and family and a commentary on the gay marriage debate.

External links

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