PSU bares all
Audrey Dighans | copy editor
Laughter, tears and above all, savage advice, filled the audience’s ears Wednesday night, Sept. 25, as political and social activist Dan Savage presented “Savage Love Live” at Memorial Auditorium.
“I had no idea what this was all about,” said Austin Russell, freshman in plastics engineering. “Originally, I was just coming for PELP, but I’m glad that I stuck around.”
Savage started writing his advice column “Savage Love” 23 years ago for a small Seattle newspaper. The column deals with sex, love, marriage, dating and every relationship in between. Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, are also credited with the widely popular “It Get’s Better” movement in 2010.
His presentations to college audiences are based on questions they ask.
Students, faculty and residents were handed notecards and pencils and asked to write questions, which were collected by members of PELP (Presidential Emerging Leaders Program) and given to Savage to answer.
Savage offered humorous takes on serious topics; the audience was laughing minutes after he started speaking. Some of the questions even made him laugh.
“My favorite question was, ‘What sparked your interest in males rather than females?’” he said.
His response? “That’s such a funny, cute, midwestern way of putting it.”
He then proceeded to explain:
“(Being gay) doesn’t just fall on you like a brick. You don’t just flip a coin and go with what it lands on,” he said. “This is the kind of question you hear from people who don’t understand what it is to be gay, lesbian, bi or transgender. If anything, we fight these feelings when we first have them as much as we can. I know I did.”
Another question: “What is the strangest way you have been protested?” Answer: “I’ve been glittered.”
Other questions led Savage to discuss ways to deal with conservative parents, sexual identity, friends with benefits and fears of straight men and women.
“Pity the straight guy who likes musical theater,” Savage said. “No girls will want him and he doesn’t want any of the guys hitting on him.”
Savage cited research studies, books and general common sense to back up his advice.
“Men who identify as straight have higher stress levels than openly gay men do. This is because gays don’t care, we’re comfortable with who we are. Straight men are always worried about their straightness being questioned. Our society has them under constant scrutiny about it.”
Religion was also a topic he addressed. Savage was raised Catholic, but is not religious. He says he considers himself to be culturally Catholic because he still believes many of the teachings he learned when he was young.
“If you take all my columns and boil them down to their pure essence, you are left with one thing. And that is do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he said.
By the end of the evening questions about relationships were the most widely asked.
“Humans like pursuit, the chase, the hunt. We are animals after all. We like a challenge. We are not wired for long-term monogamous relationships. You have been told that, you have been lied to. Throughout history adulterers have been put to death, but think about this: No species has to be threatened with death to do what comes naturally.”
Savage added that he believes in monogamous relationships but that people need to learn how to work with them, how to combat bad habits and to get rid of the idea of “the one.”
“Way too many wonderful relationships have ended because one person wasn’t sure if the person they were with was ‘the one,’” Savage said. “There are 7.5 billion people in the world, there is no ‘the one.’”
Members of the audience were left with lots to talk about.
“Others should be willing to listen to what he has to say,” said Alyssa Mikesell, freshman in physical therapy.
Jamie McDaniel, assistant professor in English, says he was pleased with Savage’s talk.
“As a gay faculty member, I see some of the negative situations that unnecessarily affect students,” he said. “It really does get better.”