Dan Savage, Co-Founder of the “It
Gets Better” Project, is making an appearance in “An
Evening With Dan Savage” at
Art Explosion in
Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, February 26 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $25 - $35 and can be purchased at
browardcenter.org. Savage, who
writes the controversial sex and relationship column
“Savage Love,” also has a book coming out in March.
Through various forms of media, Dan Savage has
consistently pushed the envelope and has become a
trendsetter in the realm of getting his point across.
Dan recently spoke with Mark’s List about his
upcoming appearance, his column and his new book.
You are making an
appearance at Art Explosion for ArtsUnited. What can we
expect from “An Evening with Dan Savage”?
Well, that depends—I'm most
comfortable working in a question-and-answer format, so
it's really the audience that drives evenings with me,
just as they drive columns with me, and podcasts with
me. I like doing it that way because then, if the
conversation gets too dirty or nutso, the audience
really has no one to blame but itself.
Are you happy with the
success of the “It Gets Better” Project? Why do you
think it took this long for a campaign like this to come
about? What were your personal experiences that helped
form this campaign?
I'm touched by the success of the
"It Gets Better" Project, but I wouldn't say I'm happy.
I'd be happy if there were no need for something like
the "It Gets Better" Project. I'd be happy if LGBT kids
weren't being bullied, and there was no need for the
IGBP anymore, and we could pull the whole thing down
And I think that if we hadn't have
launched this campaign, someone would've thought of it
or something similar. Clearly my husband and I weren't
the only adult LGBT people or allies who were aching to
reach out to hurting LGBT youth—and not all LGBT youth
are hurting; in many ways, and in many places, there's
never been a better time to be a queer kid than right
now. It just needed a spark. We gave ourselves
permission to talk to LGBT kids, and by proxy gave all
LGBT people everywhere permission to talk with these
kids, and so many people leapt in, stepped up, and took
action that it's obvious to me that people were waiting
for someone to say, "Let's do this." If it wasn't us,
someone else would've jumped in, I'm convinced.
I was bullied a bit in middle
school, and a little in high school. But I didn't have
it as bad as my boyfriend had it—he was brutalized. I
also hear every day at "Savage Love" from LGBT kids all
over the country, many of them are being bullied not
just by their peers, but also by their families, and
they're in so much pain—queer kids whose families reject
them are eight times likelier to attempt suicide. People
need to understand that rejecting your gay kid won't
make him straight, but it could make him dead.
You have a book coming out in
March. What will the book be about?
The book is a collection of
essays—some new essays, and some adaptations from the
videos on the website. We collected some of our
favorites, transcribed them, edited them, and asked the
folks who made them to revise them. It's powerful stuff.
We hope the book will reach kids who
aren't wired, and we're hoping it will be placed in
school libraries all across the country.
has your column changed since you started it? Do you
think if you started it in 2011, you would have been
able to call it “Hey, Faggot”?
Well, when I started the column in
1991 the "Hey, Faggot" salutation was a reference to a
roaring debate in the gay community, inspired by Queer
Nation activists, about "reclaiming hate words." If we
used them, if we embraced them ("Yeah, I'm a
fag/dyke/sissy, so what?"), then they couldn't be used
to wound us anymore. I thought the logical end-point for
that reclamation process was giving straight people
permission to use those words in a non-hateful way.
Hence, "Hey, Faggot."
I still use the word faggot in the
column—I love the word faggot—but I don't think that if
I started the column today I'd use that salutation, just
because the debate it referenced is long over, and the
joke is over.
The thing that changed my column
most was the Internet—I started doing "Savage Love"
before there was a Google, and I'm doing it now years
later. Before Google, I got a lot of "What's a
cockring?" questions, and "Where's the BDSM group in my
area?" questions. I don't get those anymore, which is a
shame, because those were easy questions! Now I get
mostly questions that involve situational ethics—lots of
gray. It's hard to screw up the answer to "What's a
cockring?" It's easy to screw up the answer to "My
husband cheated on me and I'm not sure I want to stay in
You’ve been controversial in
many of your columns, do you think there is a line that
exists that can still be crossed?
I don't know—I'm always looking for
lines and bursting past 'em, and I've yet to find the
uncrossable line that couldn't be crossed!
Would you ever run for
Yes I would, if my boyfriend would
permit it, which he wouldn't, so no.
What can we expect next from
You can expect me to go on a nice,
long vacation. My boyfriend-in-America/husband-in-Canada
and I have been working round the clock on IGB since the
project launched, and then the book, and now we're
heading out on a book tour (which sounds like a vacation
but definitely is not), so we're thinking Hawaii is next
for us—a beach in Hawaii, with a cocktail waiter
standing at the ready. That's also one of the ways in
which it gets better!
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