The Dan Savage Interview

Sex-advice guru Dan Savage on being a gay dad, crying during sex, bad advice, Ashton Kutcher, why he dislikes Dr. Drew, the mistake he regrets the most, and whether he’s good in bed.


You’re married, with a kid. Should you really be doling out sex advice?

I’m gay married with a kid.

So being gay married with a kid is different?

Yes, in some ways, and I’m also me. And I only have one kid. And this kid isn’t quite the sex- and relationship-destroying atom bomb that three or four kids might be. The key to keeping sex alive, particularly when a kid is around, is giving a shit about sex and prioritizing it. And I do that.

Where do you turn when you need sex or marriage advice?

I used to go my mother, but she died in 2008. Thankfully I was with her long enough to get most of the advice I needed to not totally fuck up my life.

What’s the weirdest letter you’ve ever received?

The assumption I made was that if a guy was gay, he was a good guy. Bad guys were straight guys and bullies and jocks. Gay guys were like my brothers—I would be safe with them. But I had a bad experience and afterward I was like, “Wow, I could have died.”

I get letters from people who eat shit and get turned on by that. I get letters from people who have sex with dogs and want to start a kind of dog-fuckers pride movement similar to a gay pride movement—because those are, of course, totally the same thing.

There’s really no end to the crazy circumstances people get themselves into. I got a letter today from a woman who’s dating a guy who has five children from five different women, and this guy is encouraging her not to use birth control because he’s sure he wants to start a family with her.

He sounds like a winner.

Oh, and he’s pressuring her to have a threesome with him and one of his other baby mamas who happens to be living with him. And she wonders if getting involved with this guy is a good idea? Those are the kinds of letters that really make me bang my head on the desk, especially when the letter ends with, “I’ve been reading you for years.” Apparently, to no benefit.

If you could take back one piece of advice you’ve ever given a reader, what would it be?

I once told a woman who didn’t like her husband, or wouldn’t leave him, to encourage her husband to take up drinking and driving. You really don’t want to suggest that someone take up drinking and driving in print. It’s a sure way to get several million angry letters.

You started out as a sex-advice columnist, and now you’re one of the leading gay voices in America. Are you at all surprised by how your career turned out?

I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I would say I’m appalled. There are gay organizations with multi-million-dollar budgets, and none of them can seem to scrounge up an executive director who can string a few persuasive lines together and win an argument on basic cable. Why is that every time someone from the Human Rights Campaign is on TV, you just know that we already lost the fight. Whatever the argument is, whatever the question is, it’s over. Some people will say to me, “Who made you spokesperson?” You know what? Nobody. I’m a spokesperson by default.

Have you been more successful in public or private life?

Can I say it’s a tie?

Sure. I want to talk about Ashton Kutcher anyway. Why are you so mean to to him?

I’m not mean to Ashton Kutcher. I said I wanted to fuck him, but as soon as he started being Punk’d and Jackass-y, the love affair was over. When I saw him on the cover of Rolling Stone looking gorgeous but with a cigarette in his hand, I was like, “Nope, never mind.”

When was the last time you cried?

Really cried, or choked up?

Really cried.

The day my mother died.

Have you ever cried during sex?

Only in a role-play scenario. And that’s a lie. Not even in a role-play scenario.


Next: What does Savage think of Dr. Drew?


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About Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Benoit Denizet-Lewis is an editor-at-large with The Good Men Project magazine, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the author of two books, including America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life.


  1. I’m glad I’m not young, gay, and unsure about coming out since if I encountered people like Dan Savage I would want NOTHING to do with being a gay man since I’d think that because of them being a gay man means being a bigoted transphobic and biphobic, racist drama queen like Dan Savage is.

    People like Dan Savage who are a part of the GLBT community who feel the need to put down, spout hatred towards, and exclude our own members of the GLBT community who happen to be either bisexual or trans are hypocrites and lower than pond scum.

    No it’s not censorship to call a bigot like Savage out as what he is which is a bigoted hypocrite media whore, and to read a bitch and tell how Savage is a bigoted hypocrite while claiming to be for GLBT rights, sexual freedom and equality for all GLBT people.

    Dan Savage and other bigots can run their bigoted mouths off about how much they don’t like Trans people, bisexuals, people who happen to have HIV/AIDS, African Americans voters in the state of CA, or people who don’t have pure vanilla sex but we don’t have to listen to them or take them or what they say seriously, and calling them out as what they are-bigots-is not censorship at all.

    These people like Dan Savage who are gay yet hate Trans people and bisexuals, not to mention African American voters in the state of CA—have more in common with hate groups like Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist church, Maggie Gallagaher, and NOM than they do with groups that actually do good for GLBT people at large.

    Savage is not a spokesperson by default for gay men, GLBT people, or the “community”, and he’s OK on TV and podcasts since you can turn them off instead of listening to his mindless drivel. Media whores like him deserve to be ignored.

    • Then there’s the fact that Savage does not actually give a rat’s a$$ about GLBT youth or teens-all while trashing bisexual adults and Transgender adults in his “advice” column and podcasts-but only started his whole “It gets better” project to self promote himself, get money/fame, and get a reality TV show on MTV.

    • If I recall, Dan Savage has come down on HIV+ gay men who put ejaculate their semen into the orifices of their partners without ever telling them about their status. If you are genuinely stupid, that makes him anti people-with-HIV.

      As for his alleged biphobia, I can vouch for the exact same experience as Dan’s; the majority of guys I have encountered who claim to be “bi” seemingly have very little interest in women, but have a passionate interest in insisting that they are “bi.”

    • You just compared a mainstream pundit who happens to disagree with you to Fred Freakin Phelps.

      You have a bright career ahead of you at Fox News.

  2. Caden.R says:

    Nice tv ad with Dan Savage!

  3. Boy Scout says:

    I noticed that the flag hanging behind Savage in the photo is hanging with the blue field on the wrong side. The stars in the blue field should be in the upper left corner, not the upper right, when the flag is hung vertically..

    Was this a conscious move to appeal to the closeted patriots out there to write in, or was it to inflame the patriotic closet cases out there?

    Wait a minute, why am I writing in…..?

  4. Papa Tony says:

    Back in the days before everybody in my generation started dying, we HAD lots of men like Dan as spokesmen for our community. They were in every reporter’s “Golden Rolodex”, and they were perfectly articulate, opinionated, and able to speak for us all. Then, everything went to hell when AIDS struck us down.

    Nowadays, a lot goes IN to HRC and similar groups, but very little actually comes OUT. Everyone is so bound up in “But wait – I haven’t finished sharing my FEELINGS on the topic”. It’s committee-think. Nobody is empowered to make Executive Decisions on our behalf, largely because White Male Oppressors have been in charge for too long, and they can’t be allowed to speak for us unless everybody gets to take a whack at them first.

    Dan’s power comes from the fact that he is witty, intelligent, has admirable perspective, and has a deep sense of honor and respect. He also doesn’t flinch away from calling bullshit on people that clearly need it. Even if he never does anything else in his life, the “It Gets Better” project has firmly placed him in the greats of our community’s history.

  5. Dear Mr Savage, you are boring. Why not use your power to push or encourage other spokesmen to speak out. Another bitchy gay man ragging on his own community is something we don’t need. Yaaawn! , I recommend that you start your own group. I certainly would support it. Every little bit helps and it definitely better than yet another one of us thinking being “brutally honest” is an excuse for doing something positive.

  6. I effing heart Dan Savage. He has wonderful, dead-on advice most of the time (I can’t agree always, can I?… well, maybe… but then there was the get-him-to-start-drunk-driving advice…) that encourages us to be more open, honest people.

    And, like him, I sometimes think 85% of the people calling his show either a) need someone else other than their friends to tell them X Y or Z, or b) are idiots. I am glad to hear he does bang his head on the desk. Sometimes I want to when I listen to his podcast too.


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