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Saturday, May 25, 2013

American Savage: Insights, Slights and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics by Dan Savage

I am a supporter of marriage equality. Love is love. You should be able to spend forever with the person you love, and they should get the same benefits that my husband and I get  from our marriage. I can accept the idea that each church interprets things in their own way, so if they don’t want to perform your ceremony, I can’t really fault them that but I do expect civility from everyone. But I think the state should not interfere with two adult people being married. I can’t even begin to see how it matters what’s inside their pants, or how they use it in private, as to if they get to provide dental insurance for each other.  (The state should also not care what I do, as a straight person, in private. Same rules for everyone, same legal rights all the way around, thank you.)

So, with that in mind, I requested American Savage: Insights, Slights and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics by Dan Savage from NetGalley.  The subtitle alone should clue you in that this is not a quiet read, and I did not expect it to be so. I have not been a follower of Dan Savage’s sex advice column, Savage Love,  and only knew his name in a vague way.  It turns out, Savage is blunt, funny, and I agree with pretty much everything he says in the book.  I appreciate that he’s honest about who he is- gay, married, a parent, outspoken, monogamish (his word). You are probably familiar with the It Gets Better Project, which was founded by Savage to help combat anti-gay bullying.

In American Savage, he discusses everything from marriage, to sex, to parenting, to politics. He talks about when it’s ok to cheat and when it’s not. (Oh, I know, it’s never ok. Once a cheater always a cheater! Blah blah. It’s still good food for thought, and is convincingly argued.) It’s both crude and respectful (seems impossible, but is true.)  He is not anti-religion, and admits to longing to be part of the Catholic Church, as in his youth, but realizes that his lack of faith and his complete disagreement with church politics make this impossible. There is a lot of discussion of marriage, and what makes a good marriage, for both same-sex marriages and straight marriages. There are a lot of personal attacks on anti-equality people, and a lot of crude talk about them, but I didn’t feel like he ever stoops to the Facebook level of ridiculous insult (if you are on Facebook, you know what I mean by this.) He does insult the Catholic Church, and the Pope, but in my opinion never full scale bashing for the sake of bashing. (Hello, Facebook. Again.)

To be clear, this book is not polite. It is largely about things that were I to blog the actual words would bring the wrong people to my blog. If you are offended by language or sex you should not even bother picking it up. But if you would like to have someone else articulate why you believe in marriage equality, this is a great choice. With the exception of one chapter on death,  I enjoyed the entire thing. It was funny, honest, brutal, and graphic. It would definitely get banned at any high school I know (Except maybe mine.) But it was also human, and written by someone with the experience to know what he’s talking about. It clarified a lot of the things I believe, but hadn’t taken the time to properly think through.  I won’t be recommending it to everyone I know, or even everyone who reads my blog, but I am glad I read it.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.
American Savage will be published on May 28, 2013.


  1. Great review, Lisa! I hadn't heard about this book but it sounds fantastic and thought-provoking.

  2. This does sound thought provoking! I recently read that young people are leaving churches, but not religion, because they can't abide by the churces' stands on gay and mixed race marriages.


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