Dan Savage does unto others
blog by S.J. Velasquez • February 17, 2012 @ 3:03pm
Whether addressing bullying or kinky sex, relationship columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage advises readers to employ the golden rule in all situations.
“Do unto others as you’d have them to unto you,” Savage said in an interview before he spoke to a packed Canisius College Montante Cultural Center on Thursday evening.
In his syndicated sex column “Savage Love,” his advice to readers generally boils down to “encouraging people to be respectful and responsible” in the privacy of the bedroom, and in life, Savage said. When he receives emails laden with selfish language and one-sided wants, he won’t hesitate to tell a person off in an response email.
“People do the most appalling things,” he said.
That statement doesn’t apply to just his adult readers. Thanks to homophobic parents who believe gays are a threat to families, there’s whole generation of “little bigots” tormenting kids for no other reason than their suspected sexual orientation, Savage said.
In 2010, Billy Lucas, a teen from Greensburg, Ind., committed suicide after enduring years of bullying by peers who presumed Lucas was gay. Even after Lucas’ death, bullies continued posting hateful messages on a memorial Facebook page for the deceased teen. Savage, who is openly gay, was both deeply saddened by the homophobic messages and inspired by one person’s response—a message that essentially said, “[it] gets better” for gay youths.
Savage explained that for gay kids, there wasn’t a network of gay adults who could openly and honestly help them through the coming out process, to offer a shoulder to cry on—and that’s where he got the idea for the It Gets Better Project. He and his partner Terry, with the help of a videographer friend, recorded a video that was directed toward LGBT youth lacking supportive adults in their lives, and the message essentially told those kids that they’re not alone, and that there’s a reason to keep trekking. It gets better.
“The videos are a lifeline,” Savage said.
He estimated that there are 50,000 It Gets Better videos on the web today, including videos from celebrities, world political figures and everyday supporters of LGBT rights. As of Thursday night, it’s safe to say there are at least 50,001 videos. Canisius College students, faculty and staff contributed their own video, which was played before the audience at Montante.
Savage also commended Canisius College, a Jesuit school, for welcoming him to the campus to deliver a speech on what some consider a controversial topic. Savage, who himself was born and raised in the Catholic tradition and studied in a seminary, said during his presentation that the “supposed Christians” of the world who encourage homophobia need to be ignored, and more thoughtful religious discussion ought to be encouraged in religion communities.
“The Bible got slavery wrong,” he said, quoting notable atheist writer Sam Harris. He added that the “gay part of the Bible” should be ignored just as the parts about slavery, menstruation, eating lobster and masturbation have been ignored.
“If we can do it for our poly-cotton blends, we can do it for our LGBT kids,” he said.
Read more about Savage’s speech in the The Griffin, Canisius College’s student newspaper.