Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Love You, Dan Savage.

Despite the fact that he's gay, American, married, a father, and lives 3000 miles away, Dan Savage is totally my type. He's got deliciousness that comes from being one of the most successful and influential sex columnists in the Western world. (Brief aside: does the Eastern world have a corollary position? I would guess yes, but I doubt it's the same.) His advice to the lovelorn and lustful is usually spot on, and Savage presents the kinky and questionable as just another sign post along that long highway we call Sex. Or, if you're feeling punny, Route 69.

Dan didn't blaze this trail - Dr. Ruth was first on the sexual-advice scene, and she's a great old bird. But Savage does it better than anyone else. His take on sexuality and modern love doesn't fit into any one morality or ideology. Kinks, polyamory, alternate living arrangements - all fair game, all equally as valid as the white picket fence and the wedding ring. But Dan is also renowned for his ability to cut through the bullshit. He regularly points out to the people who want his advice that they themselves might be the problem. Dan responds to this week's lead question with the blunt statement, "You are an asshole," and you know what? He's right. The guy, who describes himself as both "very attractive" and "very intense" - watch out, ladies! He's a whole lotta man! - does seem like he would be a chore to date.

That's not to say that Dan Savage isn't political: obviously, gay rights are near the top of his list. More importantly, he takes a clear-eyed view on hypocrisy, especially when it comes to American leaders who have some skeletons in their own sexual closets. One only has to google "Santorum" to find out how far Savage's reach extends. It's the thrill of seeing him call someone out, in print, coast to coast, that really gets the juices flowing. The sex advice is great - reading his diatribes about Ted Haggard is gold.

As a bonus for us Canucks (I have never used that word before...weird), Savage Love often praises Canada for both its laissez-faire attitute towards regulating sexuality (gay marriage, for example), and for not thinking our laissez-faire attitute is unusual. It's only really unusual when compared to places like Arkansas, where dildos are illegal. Seriously. That can't be healthy.

But getting back to the sexy business - which is, after all, Savage Love's bread and butter. My respect for Dan Savage is largely due to his attempts to bring normality to a wider range of sex than we usually get. Like it or not, America is a sexually nervous place. Someone once pointed out that America was founded by Puritans, people who were looking for a society more repressive that, you know, 15th Century England. What they created was a nation that collectively freaks out about any number of sexual basics (abortion, birth control for teenagers, sexual education) and still finds time to invent Hugh Hefner. Conflicted? Confused? You bet. So Dan Savage, which isn't coming from a place of "should" and "mustn't" and "secret" is a total revolutionary.

When Dan Savage tells his readers that they can, indeed, enjoy a finger in their ass and not be gay, it carries a certain amount of currency. When he advises someone to DTMFA, he's being both a blunt friend and a relationship expert. When thousands of people read his column (online and in print), and listen to his podcasts, and talk about his responses in their daily lives, how can this guy not be swinging a serious pair? For that, Mr. Savage, I would gladly marry your gay, married, American, persnickety ass. You've made the world safer for queers and kinksters, even only a little bit, and that deserves a salute and a around of applause from the orgy room.

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