He got introduced by a guy in a suit, then came on stage in a t-shirt and baseball cap, explaining that his good shirt had fallen in the toilet. The introducer mentioned that he had been offered his job as a columnist while working as the manager of Four Star Video. I think I had read that before in his AV Club interview back in February, but it gave me a kind of weird feeling when I heard that and thought, "Hey, I was just there today paying late fees."
Going in, I was expecting a much more aggressive personality. He indicated in the AV Club interview that his column isn't today what it was in his first year, but there's still plenty of the attitude he describes starting out with:
Forever, I'd read letters that had been written to straight advice columnists from gay people. Sometimes the advice was okay, but oftentimes it was clueless about gay issues or gay people or gay sex or gay rights. And I just thought it would be funny for once if there was an advice column written by a gay person where straight people had to get slapped around or treated with contempt.He came across, though, with one of the wimpier comic actor personas you see in movies (I wish I could give an example of a specific actor actor) still hilarious, and capable of saying outrageous things, but not as rude about it.
I wasn't taking notes or anything, so I have to give scattered highlights. They had two interpreters for the deaf, and rather than just letting them be there, he took not of them and referred to them on occasion. Near the beginning, he asked if there were actually any deaf people in the audience, saying he often would give talks where their were interpreters no one needed, but there was someone – I think a cheer went up when they were identified. He would also occasionally notice that the sign language for something he said got louder laughs than the thing itself, so he'd repeat the phrase so we could all see the sign language again. The interpreters were pretty good sports about it – executing the gestures with a fair amount of pomp while retaining some composure. Kudos to them.
At one point near the beginning, he let out a shocked exclamation "Oh my God, there's a child in the audience! I'm so sorry. I wouldn't want my own kid hearing this." Up in the balcony, I wasn't entirely sure if the kid got taken out.
He said that love necessarily involves lying. When you meet someone for the first time, you put forward your best self so they'll fall in love with you, and then they do, and you say, "Oh no, now I have to keep up this façade." And then, if it goes really well, you live up to the lie.
He actually advocated getting rid of sex ed. classes in public schools, because public schools would never be able to do it right. Among his comments on what good sex ed would look like, he mentioned that it would teach both how to give and how to withhold consent. He also touched on the subject of campus groups designed to promote healthy sex. He said something to the effect that it would have been good if Sex Out Loud existed on campus when he was here, but such groups can over-react to anti-sex messages. They respond to "no, no, no" with "yes, yes, yes" when it should be "it depends, it depends, it depends."
He said the culture wars are fought on two levels. The high level, of things like constitutional amendments, is like World War I: trench warfare, battle lines moving a little bit at a time. The cultural level is more like Vietnam guerilla warfare, lots of little things happening all over the place online, in newspaper columns, etc. He said quite bluntly that come November, gay marriage will lose in Wisconsin, but we'll get it in America eventually, though we'll be the last country in the world to do so. He said we'll even be after Pakistan, then launched into the analogy of a woman president. We'll be so proud of ourselves when we get one, but even Pakistan's already beaten us to it. We will see both those things eventually, though, even if we're last.
He also brought up a personal anecdote to drive home the importance of marriage rights. He was traveling by plane, got sick during the SARS scare, was misdiagnosed, made even worse by the medicine, but his partner was able to make all kinds of medical decisions in a half-hour time period. No need to call his parents, which was a good thing, because his mom was living in a cabin without a phone. The thing he wondered, was, what happens next time? He's living with no guarantee that next time he's sick, or Terry is sick, the one won't be able to make decisions for the other. He also mentioned the fact that if they went to one state (Ohio? Oklahoma? I forget) their son would be considered a ward of the state. Not having the legal protections of marriage was a clear draw back.
Anyway, those were the highlights. I looked for other people who've written about this on Technorati, but I think I got the scoop. Go me.
Technorati Tags: Dan Savage, Savage Love