Daniel Keenan Savage (born October 7, 1964)[1] is an openly gay American sex advice columnist, Author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor. Savage is best known for penning the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column Savage Love. Its tone is humorous, profane, and often hostile to social conservatives, as in the Santorum controversy. Savage has often been the subject of controversy regarding his opinions that pointedly clash with both traditional conservative moral values and those put forth by what Savage has been known to call the "gay establishment". He has also worked as a theater director, both under his real name and under the name Keenan Hollahan, using his middle name and his grandmother's maiden name.[2]

Early life and college

Dan Savage was born to William and Judy Savage in Chicago, Illinois.[3] He is of Irish ancestry.[4] The third of four children,[3] Savage was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, which he has described as "a Catholic high school in Chicago for boys thinking of becoming priests."[5] (Though Savage has stated that he is now "a wishy-washy agnostic", he has said that he still considers himself "culturally Catholic".[5][6])

Savage attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied theatre and history.[3] As a theater director, Savage (working under the name "Keenan Hollahan") was a founder of Seattle's Greek Active Theater.[6] Much of the group's work has been queer re-contextualizations of classic works, such as a tragicomic Macbeth with both the title character and Lady Macbeth played by performers of the opposite gender. In March 2001 he directed his own Egguus at Consolidated Works, a parody of Peter Shaffer's 1973 play Equus which exchanged a fixation on horses for a fixation on chickens. Savage has not directed, produced, or performed in any productions since a 2003 production of "Letters from the Earth," also at Consolidated Works, his trimmed version of Mark Twain's "The Diary of Adam and Eve", which received scathing reviews, including one from his own paper ("My boss' show stinks."—Brendan Kiley, The Stranger, March 20, 2003).

Savage Love

Template:Mainarticle In 1991, Savage was living in Madison, Wisconsin, and working as a manager at a local video store that specialized in independent film titles.[3] There, Savage befriended Tim Keck, co-founder of The Onion, who announced that he was moving to Seattle to help start an alternative weekly newspaper entitled The Stranger.[3] Savage "made the offhand comment that forever altered [his] life: 'Make sure your paper has an advice column—everybody claims to hate 'em, but everybody seems to read 'em'."[7] Savage typed up a sample column, and to Savage's surprise Keck offered him the job.[8][9]

Savage stated in a February 2006 interview in The Onion's A.V. Club (which publishes his column) that he began the column with the express purpose of providing mocking advice to heterosexuals.

Forever, I'd read letters that had been written from straight advice columnists to gay people. Sometimes the advice was okay, but often 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.[8]

Savage wanted to call the column "Hey Faggot!" His editors at the time refused his choice of column name, but for the first several years of the column, he attached "Hey Faggot!" at the beginning of each printed letter as a salutation. According to Savage:

When I started writing this column in 1991, there was a debate raging in hellish homosexual circles about words like faggot. The idea was that if we used these words ourselves--Queer Nation, Dyke March, "Hey, Faggot"--straights couldn't use them as hate words anymore. I chose "Hey, Faggot" as my salutation in joking reference to this lively debate about reclaiming hate words.[10]

In his February 25, 1999 column, Savage announced that he was retiring the phrase: "Lo many columns later, it feels strange to begin every column with a joke about a debate that ended years ago."[10]

He has written in a number of columns about "straight rights" concerns, such as the HPV vaccine and the morning-after pill, stating in his November 9 2005, column that "[t]he right-wingers and the fundies and the sex-phobes don't just have it in for the queers. They're coming for your asses too."

Radio and journalism

File:Dan Savage at IWU.jpg

Dan Savage speaking at Illinois Wesleyan University, 2007

In addition to his weekly article and authoring four books, Savage is involved in several other projects.

He is now the editorial director of the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger, a promotion from his former position as The Stranger's editor-in-chief.[11] Savage currently is a contributor to This American Life, an hour-long radio show on Chicago's WBEZ syndicated by PRI.

From at least September 1994 until 1997, he had a weekly 2-hour call-in show called Savage Love Live on Seattle's KCMU (now KEXP). From 1998 to 2000, he ran the bi-weekly advice column Dear Dan on the news website Savage is also a frequent contributor to Out magazine.


The Savage Lovecast is a podcast of Savage's column Savage Love, available at iTunes and at the Stranger's website for free download. It features Savage doing a call-in version of his sex advice column.

Opinions and point of view

Political advocacy


Dan Savage at the 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Awards, 2006

Savage has written about his interest in political matters. His political leanings are primarily leftist or liberal, with pronounced contrarian and libertarian streaks.[12] In 2000, he wrote that while suffering from the influenza virus while on an assignment for to cover the Iowa caucuses,[13] he was so angered by televised remarks in opposition to same-sex marriage by conservative Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer that he abandoned his original plan "to follow one of the loopy conservative Christian candidates around—Bauer or Alan Keyes—and write something insightful and humanizing about him, his campaign, and his supporters."[14]

He volunteered for the Bauer campaign, intending to infect the candidate with his flu. He wrote that he'd licked doorknobs and other objects in the campaign office, and handed Bauer a saliva-coated pen, hoping to pass the disease on to Bauer and his supporters (though he later said that much of the article had been fictitious). He also registered and participated in the caucus, which was illegal, as Savage was not an Iowa resident. He was charged and pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of fraudulent voting in a caucus, and was sentenced to a year's probation, 50 hours of community service, and a $750 fine.[15][16][17][18]

Savage often mentions political issues in his column, particularly issues that affect family planning, birth control, and sexuality. He often encourages readers to get involved, and often voices a positive or negative opinion about a politician or public official. After Rick Santorum, then a United States senator from Pennsylvania, made comments to a reporter comparing homosexual sex to bestiality and incest, Savage assailed Santorum in his columns, and eventually had a contest that ultimately led to the term santorum being used to refer to a byproduct of anal sex.[19]

Savage also strongly supported the war in Iraq in the pages of The Stranger in October 2002.[20] By the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003, however, he had somewhat softened his argument.[21]

Savage has also been a vocal opponent of state laws which outlaw the sales of sex toys. In response to an expose by Kandiss Crone from WLBT (Jackson, Mississippi) that precipitated the arrest and fining of an adult video store owner, Savage suggested that the readers send any sex toys that they need to dispose of to Ms. Crone.[22][23]

Personal opinions

Savage often surprises readers by defending unexpected positions. Among his more surprising or controversial statements:

  • Savage wrote a piece questioning the validity of the gay pride parade as a way to build community.
  • Savage initially supported the Iraq war and advocated military action against other Middle Eastern states, including Iran and Saudi Arabia saying, "Islamo-fascism is a regional problem, like European fascism – and the Middle East [has] to be remade just as Europe was remade." One week before the war began, Savage spoke against it, citing the inability of President George W. Bush to form a convincing case and sway the UN and NATO Allies.[21] He now deems the situation hopeless and advocates an immediate troop withdrawal.[24]
  • He describes his view towards family as "conservative", and his boyfriend, Terry Miller, is a "stay-at-home dad" for the couple's adopted son. He has, however, expressed skepticism of "simplistic" views of monogamy.[25]
  • He has often clashed with other prominent figures in Seattle's gay community. For example, he has often expressed contempt for the editorial calibre of the Seattle Gay News.
  • In response to a letter asking "Is the AIDS crisis over?" Savage, in his October 22, 1997 column, answered simply, "Yes." Several weeks of columns were devoted in whole or in part to discussion of the issue.[26][27]
  • In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Savage stated that then-Green Party Senate candidate Carl Romanelli, who he claimed was partially funded by state Republicans for a spoiler effect against Democrat Bob Casey, "should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there's nothing left but the rope." (See James Byrd, Jr.) In the same interview, he stated, "Mr. Romanelli should go fuck himself."[28] For this comment, Savage wrote right after the interview that "I regret using that truck metaphor, and didn't mean it literally, and it was in poor taste, and I regret it."[29]

Views on outing

Savage stated in a column that he favors outing in some cases, specifically mentioning anti-gay activist Tyler Whitney. However in the same column he said, "I recently talked someone out of outing a public figure. A Savage Love reader was contemplating outing an innocuous celebrity back in April. I advised him against it because, as I wrote to him privately, outing is brutal and it should be reserved for brutes."[30] See The Frank Rule.

Local issues

Savage's editorship of The Stranger has established him as a voice in local Seattle politics. His most high-profile commentary has been as an outspoken critic of the Teen Dance Ordinance and other crackdowns on all-ages events.

Savage argues that closing down supervised all-ages dance venues drives teens to boredom and reckless activities: "Places like Ground Zero and the Kirkland Teen Center are invaluable from a law enforcement point of view. They keep kids out of, say, 7-Eleven parking lots or the homes of friends whose parents are away."[31]

Ann Landers

On December 3, 2002, Savage announced in an article that he had purchased columnist Ann Landers' desk; she had died earlier in the year (on June 22).[32] Savage has facetiously referred to Landers as his "college roommate"[33] and said "I like to think of myself as a gay Ann Landers."[34]


  • Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist (October 1998) (ISBN 0-452-27815-5), a collection of letters from his column.
  • The Kid (1999) (ISBN 0-525-94525-3), relating how he and his boyfriend adopted a baby boy through open adoption. (June 8, 2000)
  • Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (2002) (ISBN 0-452-28416-3), which describes his exploration of the seven deadly sins (September 1, 2003. The title is a satiric reference to Robert Bork's book Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.)
  • The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (2005) (ISBN 0-525-94907-0), a memoir of his life, relationship and family and a commentary on the gay marriage debate. (September 27, 2005)
  • Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me (February 2008) (ISBN 0-446-58069-4), edited by Ben Karlin, Dan contributes information acquired about women along with such people as Stephen Colbert, Andy Richter, and Will Forte.


  1. Fefer, Mark D. (2004-05-26). Buzz: Media. Seattle Weekly. Village Voice Media. Retrieved on 2008-05-30.
  2. Kittenpants interview with Dan Savage, Kittenpants, 04.10.01 Issue 9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 GLBTQ Literature: Dan Savage.
  4. Savage, Dan (1998). Savage Love: Straight Answers From America's Most Popular Sex Columnist. New York: Plume Publishing Group, 1–16. ISBN 978-0452278158. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Walsh, Jeff (1999-10-01). Savage Dan. Oasis magazine.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Anderson-Minshall, Diane (2005-09-13). Interview with Dan Savage.
  7. Dan Savage, Introduction, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist (New York: Plume, 1998), p. 2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dan Savage interviewed by Tasha Robinson, The A.V. Club, February 8, 2006.
  9. Dan Savage, Introduction, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist, op. cit., pp. 1-5.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Dan Savage, Savage Love: Farewell, Faggot, The Stranger, February 25, 1999.
  11. Regina Hackett - Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
  12. Buchanan, Wyatt (2005-10-21). Marriage Can Be Right For Us All, says Dan Savage. But Let's Not Get Carried Away With Monogamy. The San Francisco Chronicle.
  13.'s editorial, "The firestorm over 'Stalking Gary Bauer'"
  14. Savage, Dan (2000-01-25). Stalking Gary Bauer. Retrieved on 2008-05-06.
  15. Des Moines Register article.
  16. NewsWrap for the week ending November 11, 2000, This Way Out program #659, November 13, 2000.
  17. Dan Savage on NNDB.
  18. Dan Savage, Germ Warfare, The Stranger, January 27February 2, 2000.
  19. uma, Anal Sex Byproduct Named for Senator Santorum,, December 11, 2003.
  20. Dan Savage, Say "YES" to War on Iraq, The Stranger, October 17–October 23, 2002. Accessed online 6 November 2006.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Dan Savage, Against the War--For Now March 13–March 19, 2003. Accessed online 6 November 2006.
  22. Dan Savage, [1] 'What is good sex-toy etiquette?' Thursday, February 14, 2008. Accessed online 17 February 2008.
  23. Kandiss Crone, [2] 'Adult Store Caught Selling Illegal Sex Toys' January 30, 2008. Accessed Online 17 February 2008.
  24. Dan Savage, It's over, over there, The Stranger, August 18, 2005.
  25. Dan Savage, Savage Love: I, Monogamous, The Stranger, September 23, 1999.
  26. Reprinted in Savage, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist, op. cit., pp. 291-98.
  27. Dan Savage, Savage Love (column), SF Weekly, November 19, 1997.
  28. Stephen Morse interview with Dan Savage, October 12, 2006. Accessed online 12 February 2007.
  29. Five Minutes with Dan, October 12, 2006. Accessed online 30 April 2007.
  30. Dan Savage, Savage Love (column), The A.V. Club, June 20, 2007.
  31. Josh Feit and Dan Savage, "Raving Mad", The Stranger, March 30April 5, 2006. Accessed 6 April 2006.
  32. Dan Savage, "Savage Love: Advice Regarding Minors; Childbirth Fetish; I Bought Ann Landers's Desk!", The Village Voice, December 4-December 10, 2002.
  33. Dan Savage, "Savage Love: Lonely, Suicidal, and POPULAR!", The Stranger, August 10, 2000.
  34. Dan Savage, Introduction, Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist, op. cit., p. 9.

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