The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday August 5th

Q&A with Dan Savage

DTH: What prompted you to start the Savage Love Live circuit?

DS: Colleges started asking me to come and speak about sex, sexuality, health, birth control, safety and consent. A lot of young people arrive at college without having the tools they need — or the permission they need — to begin their adult sex lives. They’ve been denied not just a comprehensive sex education, but permission to speak up for themselves, to advocate for themselves. My column — and my talks — can help give them that permission.

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And that permission isn’t about permissiveness, or “anything goes” sexually. You’re giving people permission to make their own choices, to make informed decisions, and some people — armed with all the info — decide that they’re not ready for sex. And that’s a totally legit choice and one I support.

DTH: Is there one message posted as part of the It Gets Better Project that’s stood out?

DS: One of the early criticisms of the project was that it was just a bunch of rich gay white men bragging about their lives and their material success. It wasn’t true. The one that really struck me was made by a Latina lesbian poet who lives in the Bronx — she’s about as far from rich and white and gay as it gets — and she said in her video that it doesn’t get better. “What happens,” she said, “is that you get stronger.” You get stronger: that’s Latina-lesbian-Bronx for “it gets better.”

DTH: Has the project achieved what you hoped it would?

DS: Yes — it has saved lives. It hasn’t saved every life, and we never thought we could, and the suicides of other youth is absolutely heartbreaking. But we’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of other LGBT youths who were inspired to hang in there. Their stories don’t make the news because they haven’t killed themselves.

The goal of the project was never to be the biggest channel on YouTube or to get the president to make a video or to have all these celebrities making videos. The goal was to get adult LGBT people to share their stories, and a glimpse of their lives, with LGBT youth who were isolated and in despair, and to give them hope for their futures.

DTH: How would you define the current situation of the gay American public?

DS: It has gotten better — it’s not perfect, we’re not done, and there will always be haters out there. But just think about the changes we’ve seen since I came out. When I told my very, very Catholic mother and father that I was gay back in 1981, I wasn’t just telling them that I liked boys. I was telling them that I would never get married, never have children, never be a Marine. (Now) I’m married, I have a son, I could be a Marine.

We have a ways to go, and sometimes the progress is slow, and that can be frustrating. But things have gotten better. We made them better by coming out and fighting for our rights, and they’re going to keep getting better.

DTH: If you had to give one piece of advice, other than “It Gets Better” to a gay American in a hostile environment, what would it be?

DS: Move.

Contact the Arts Editor at arts@dailytarheel.com.

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