October 7, 1964– Daniel Keenan Savage:
“Republicans have brass knuckles on and Democrats don’t. Democrats need to pick up the brass knuckles and play the game that’s actually being played.”
I used to see him around town when we were both doing theatre in Seattle. He was one of the founders and stars of Greek Active, a subversive theatre troupe dedicated to the queering of the classics. I will never forget his Lady Macbeth. I, on the other hand, was chasing mainstream success in Theatre, Film, Television and Advertising, with my eye on fame. Notice who became famous.
Savage was also making waves in Seattle during that era for his drag persona Helvetica Bold and for his outrageous column in Seattle’s new weekly newspaper The Stranger. That column always started with the salutation: Hey, Faggot!.
Activist, writer, editor, archivist, pundit, journalist, sex columnist, joker, provocateur, bestselling award winning author, contrarian, Savage is just my cup of tea. He has a propensity for prepossessing point-blank presumptions, along with reedy, horsey good-looks and the most nimble sense of humor.
This could only have happened in the new century. In 2003, after Rick Santorum, at the time a Senator from Pennsylvania, made comments to a reporter comparing gay sex to bestiality and incest, Savage took on Santorum in his column. He sponsored a contest that led to the term “Santorum”, used to refer to: “The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex”. There is nothing so gladdening as the intertwining of a goody-goody puritan and a dashingly droll dirty joke. Years later, go ahead, Google “Santorum”.
He is a hero to me for having created the hugely successful It Gets Better viral video campaign, created as an attempt at stopping gay teenagers from killing themselves, since it seemed like no one else was doing anything about it. The campaign and resulting book actually saved lives. Young gay people are alive right now because they had another point of view from the rhetoric of someone like Savage’s nemesis Santorum. I wonder sometimes, has our Santorum actually saved any lives?
Savage had to live with some of that Internet shaming in spring 2012, after he gave an anti-bullying speech in which he encouraged high school students to: “Learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people”. Some students walked out of the auditorium. Savage apologized, but called the walkout “a pansy-assed move”. Savage:
“I wasn’t calling the handful of students who left pansies (2,800+ students, most of them Christian, stayed and listened), just the walkout itself.”
Savage stood by the main point of his speech.
Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, have one adopted son, D.J. Savage. Savage writes about his family in the hilarious The Kid: (What Happened After My Boyfriend And I Decided to Go Get Pregnant) An Adoption Story (2007), which reminds me, Savage is many things, but foremost he remains a biting satirist and comic writer. People who get all shook up about what he says need to have their sense of humor fine-tuned.
Savage grew-up in a Catholic family in Chicago. In a very Chicago kind of way, Savage is a real power player in the world of Seattle politics, speaking out in a way that makes the people in the city take notice.
His life as a kid in Chicago served as the inspiration for ABC’s rather traditional sitcom The Real O’Neals (2015-16) which lasted for two seasons; traditional, except for its realistic but funny depiction of a gay kid, played to perfection by young out actor, Noah Galvin. Savage served as executive producer of the series. Of course, the Christian Right saw the show as the end of civilization. The always charming, unfortunately named Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council sent a petition to Disney, ABC’s parent company to pull the series. The Christian Mommy group One Million Moms claimed that the show’s “depravity ridicules people of faith, and Christians across America are offended by it”.”Breitbart raged:
“Disney/ABC glorify X-rated bully Dan Savage in prime-time sitcom.”
Last year, before the big Presidential debate, when it was suggested that the Big Orange Thing might bring up Hillary’s husband’s philandering, Savage thoughtfully wrote a rebuttal for the busy Democrat candidate:
“The fact that there have been challenges in my marriage, Donald, isn’t news to anyone. My husband has not always been faithful. That’s true. It’s also not relevant to the question before the American people, and that question is this: which one of us—you or me—should be the next president of the United States… It should go without saying that my husband’s actions have, at times, caused a great deal of pain for me, for our daughter, and for all involved. It should go without saying but here I am saying it, Donald, because you want to talk about affairs. So let’s talk about them. But first I want to say this: I love my husband. He is not perfect. My husband loves me. I am not perfect. We managed to work through the pain and save our marriage, like so many other couples who’ve faced similar challenges, and I’m glad we’re still together… Now let’s talk about affairs.”
Savage has raised $100,000 for organizations opposing POTUS and his policies by selling a clothing and accessories line mocking the “Make America Great Again” slogan. Savage’s company sells sold hats, tee-shirts, buttons, stickers, coffee cups, and other stuff emblazoned with the acronym “ITMFA” for Impeach The Motherfucker Already.
He announced on Instagram that he had “the distinct pleasure” to give the money raised to Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
In 2011, Savage was able to purchase, at auction, the writing desk of his early writing idol, advice columnist Ann Landers. The desk is now in Savage’s office in Seattle.
“While it’s highly ironic that the world’s smuttiest advice column will now be written at the same desk where the world’s most mainstream (and most popular) advice column was once written, I intended no disrespect.”
Savage’s HUMP! annual film festival in Seattle and Portland began in 2005. The festival showcases locally produced porn and erotica, and amateur sex movies. The films are rated by the audience, and awards are given. The films are then destroyed before the live audience at the final showing of the festival by Savage. The Seattle HUMP! begins the third week in October and Portland’s is in November.
Today, Savage’s weekly column Savage Love is syndicated in over 60 newspapers, mostly free publications, around the globe. He also produces and hosts the Savage Lovecast podcast.
The Savage-Millers were married in Vancouver, BC, in 2005, the same year and city that The Husband and I got hitched.
“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy. When it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.”