Dan Savage on Strombo

First aired on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (4/7/13)

He may be America's most popular sex-advice columnist and a bestselling author. His latest book, American Savage, was released earlier this year. But these days, Dan Savage is probably better known for the It Gets Better Project, which he founded with his husband Terry Miller to reach out to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth to let them know there is hope for a better life.

Savage didn't set out to be an activist, but his sex-advice column, Savage Love, turned him into one. "Nothing changes people like knowing someone who is gay," Savage told George Stroumboulopoulos in a recent interview. "Particularly for a lot of young heterosexuals who were reading my column while in college, I'm the gay guy they know."


It was a role Savage embraced wholeheartedly. "I think I'm a pretty good gay guy to know," he said. He's not afraid to debate people with differing opinions, and call people out for homophobia, bigotry and misogyny. "I'm not going to dissolve into a puddle of tears if we have a disagreement. I'll get in your face for a minute and you'll get in my face for a minute, we'll have a disagreement and then we can be buds again," he said. "I'm pretty aggressive and demanding, but I have a sense of humour."

He believes this approach is important because "you can't hold grudges when you are asking people to change and asking people to move and reassess their prejudices and their bigotries." You can to work with them, believe in them, challenge them and "once they come around you have to accept and embrace their new position they are in now."

Savage also believe that the LGBT community has a large and important role to play in changing people's minds. "You have a responsibility to be out. You have a moral obligation to be out," he said. He's quick to point out that those in risky situations -- teenagers who might be bullied at school or kicked out of the house -- need not be out. Personal safety comes first. But for adults who have stable relationships and jobs and are simply choosing not to be out? Savage doesn't have any patience for them. "You're out of the house, you're through school, you're employed and you're not out to your mom and dad because you're scared? Eat me. You're not out to your mom and dad because of this inheritance? Eat me."

Sounds heavy? It is. That's why Savage has fully embraced his activist side and tackles these difficult topics and more in American Savage. "People are dying. People are murdered all over the world because the are LGBT," Savage said. And until that stops, Savage will keep writing and campaigning and being a public gay figure and activist and will encourage others to do the same.

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