Dan Savage
Bunching the panties of the powers that be

Sarah Clyne Sundberg

A Swedish version was published in Ottar, Apr. 2012

Dan Savage has been writing his advice column “Savage Love” since 1991. In it he blends detailed advice on how to navigate a three-way, or ask your girlfriend to spank you, with admonitions to practice safer sex and communicate well in relationships. All with the unfailing moral compass of a lapsed Catholic and in a style that would make a street hooker blush. 

The readership once seemed like a secret society; if you met other Savage Love fans you assumed they shared your sense of humor and general outlook. These days Dan Savage is a household name. This spring MTV launched the show “Savage U” in which he travels to various colleges to talk to students about sex and relationships.

Several of Savage’s standard phrases have made their way into the mainstream sexual lexicon. For one there’s GGG, or Good Giving and Game, which is what he feels every sex partner should be. Then there’s Santorum.

Savage Love readers got to know the conservative senator from Pennsylvania back in 2003. That was when Rick Santorum compared gay marriage to bestiality. Savage called a competition to redefine the senator’s name. “The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex” won. The site www.spreadingsantorum.com was long the top hit on Google for “Santorum.” During the primaries media frequently alluded to the senator’s “Google problem.”

Such hijinks notwithstanding, Savage’s biggest mainstream break may have been the “It Gets Better” campaign in 2011. After a number of high profile suicides among LGBT teens, Dan and his partner Terry Miller created a YouTube clip in which they spoke candidly about their own experiences growing up and encouraged bullied teens to hold out for better times. They invited other LGBT people to make similar videos. Three weeks later tens of thousands of contributions were online. One of them was from President Obama.  

You used to have a rather narrow audience. Now you are America's sex advice columnist. Even though you're still saying…

Exactly what I’ve always said?

Why did your audience get broader?

The AIDS epidemic forced us to talk about what people were actually doing in bed. Instead of what everyone agreed that everyone else should do in bed, which is what used to dominate any public discussion.

I'm gay; I lived to fuck in the '80s and survived. My column grew out of that idea that you need to be honest. There is no such thing as a gay person without radical sexual honesty. As more gay people have come out and the gay community has integrated into the straight community, we've instilled that value of sexual honesty in the broader culture.