Back in 2006 when I was working a full-time corporate job, while also trying to write what would become the Offbeat Bride book, I felt myself sliding toward a nervous breakdown. My weeks consisted of 45 hours of my day-job, 10 hours of commuting, 40 hours of book-writing, and some sleep (if I was lucky).
Desperate for some guidance and inspiration, I sent an email to one of my local writing heroes, Dan Savage. I was basically just like, DUDE HOW DO YOU DO IT?! Writing a book while also working a full-time editorial job? How do you manage?
This was Dan’s response:
i kill myself.
i also have a stay-at-home parent/partner who does my laundry, buys me food, reminds me to bathe.
it’s the secret of my workaholic success….
His partner? Terry Miller, who is now Dan’s husband (thanks to Washington’s marriage laws). I’ve slowly come to realize that in the years since I had this exchange, I’ve modeled my het marriage to emulate their gay marriage… and I’m convinced it’s been one of the contributing factors to the success of my husband’s and my 16 years together. Here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned:
1. Be supportive & appreciative
Yeah, no shit. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes I get myself all tangled up and feel like it’s somehow unfeminist of me to just sit back and help my husband. (A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle! I can do it all by myself! So can he!) But, oh wait. Sometimes, when I remind myself that we’re just two people (not a man and a woman), I can just be a supportive partner who takes care of our kid, folds our laundry, and unloads the dishwasher while my partner is off doing the work that is important to him. Fucking duh.
The flip side of this is the deep appreciation for your partner’s role in your success. I think what most impresses me about that email Dan sent me in 2006 is that he didn’t even try to be like, “Oh, here are my big fancy writing and productivity tips.” He was basically just like, “I owe it all to my partner. The end.”
Let’s all sing the appreciation song every day!
2. Get hotter
Look: Terry has always been attractive. But um, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.
In the 19 years since Terry and Dan first hooked up in the bathroom of the bar where I celebrated my 21st birthday, Terry has basically become a tanned, perky-nippled, perfect-assed demi-god.
While I’m no perfect-assed demi-god, I am in imminently better condition now than I was when I married my husband, and I take way better care of myself — not just physically, but emotionally, too.
Part of this is just maturing and having a more respect for myself and my body, but part of it is making an effort to show my partner, “Yeah, that’s right: you’ve been having sex with this for 16+ years, and it just gets better in all the ways I know you like it.”
3. Allow — nay, ENJOY — ogling
One of the things I love about Terry and Dan’s relationship is that they clearly enjoy it when people enjoy the other one. Sure, sometimes that enjoyment is more than ogling, and Dan’s written about how they’re monogamish (choice quote: “When I’m cheating on my partner, he’s cheating on me at the same time — at the other end of the same guy.”).
I’m not just talking about sexual activities, though… I just mean that there’s a value taking enjoyment from other people appreciating your partner. Don’t resent it — revel in it! Note Dan’s playful comment on this photo of Terry:
THAT’S what I’m talking about. It’s stuff like this that inspired me to hire my own husband to do a hand-balancing routine at the Seattle Lovesick Expo and then pimp him out to the press (HEY EVERYONE COME STARE AT MY HUSBAND’S BUTT!). It’s why I almost always leave letchy comments on my husband’s photos. Enjoying when others ogle your spouse is a great reminder of how lucky you are. (Yeah, that’s right. THAT’S MY HUSBAND. Maybe tonight I’ll actually stop watching House of Cards with him long enough to hit it.)
So, yep: most everything I learned about sex I learned from Dan Savage’s sex advice column, and most everything I’ve learned about marriage I learned from his husband. This is the future the conservatives warned us about, and it’s full of hot, happy married people and perky nipples. Yay, family values! (Now when are they writing that parenting book…)
Please join me in following Terry on Instagram. It’s a mix of hot dude, cute puppies, and adorable children… many of my favorite things. This post may or may not have just been an excuse to link to his account.
Comments on Everything I know about marriage I learned from Terry Miller (Dan Savage’s husband)
I read this as “standing ovulation”. I feel like my ovulation may have been affected by this post…
These two have been an inspiration in my relationships, in so many derivations of “relationship” that I actually wanted to include them in my “Thanks a bunch” speech at my wedding. They inspired my queer teenage self to be authentic to who I wanted to date. They inspired me to be brave when I found someone I wanted to spend more than 45 minutes with, and to relentlessly pursue that person. They inspire me now, parenting my own children, and show me that co-working co-parenting is possible as long as both partners are giving 100%. Thanks guys for being awesome and inspiring, and for the eye-candy on Instagram.
I am an out-and-proud, card carrying, happily married lesbian, but DAYUM! *fans self*
I read Savage’s “The Commitment” when I was having an existential crisis about love, life, and how to define our relationship. It was so perfect for me at the time. Instead of trying to fit myself into a mold, I learned that you have to build your own mold.
Yep, it was actually reading The Commitment when it was published that inspired me to email Dan asking for advice about writing Offbeat Bride! Ah, 2006… it feels kind of forever ago, now.
I think I read it in 2010, which also seems like forever ago.
Also I love how you think of your relationship as two people, rather than a man and a woman. Shit needs to be done, and someone has to do it, no matter if they are an innie, an outie, etc .
I read this after a bad breakup and it revolutionized the way I think about “success” in relationships. Seriously changed my life.
This part had me cracking up: “Yeah, that’s right. THAT’S MY HUSBAND. Maybe tonight I’ll actually stop watching House of Cards with him long enough to hit it.”
They are my favorite celebrity-type couple! Their love of each other should be an inspiration to EVERYONE. 🙂
I’m fairly sure I’ve heard Dan Savage espouse traditional evolutionary psychology* somewhere, which is mega-problemo-ick-non-science-yargh (technical term), and I’m pretty much on board with this view of his view of poly-/monogamy: http://tacit.livejournal.com/391193.html
That is in no way a criticism of your article, which is great and a joyous thing to read when you’ve had such a positive experience. I just want anyone reading who is progressive and loves sex but cannot find the Love for Savage, when he is so popular, to know that that’s cool too, it doesn’t mean they’re repressed or broken. Not that I’m saying that you’re saying that. *Sigh* Words are difficult. I hope you know what I mean.
*that is, the form that ignores any possible role of cooperation and bonding in species survival
I was waiting for this to come up. Of course Dan’s an opinionated asshole — that’s basically his job as a contrarian political writer. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but I always appreciate that he’s been speaking out for 20+ years.
A side note here: it’s been fascinating over the decades to watch Dan, formerly the most outrageous “Hey, Faggot!” on the media block, slowly develop a reputation among some folks for being too conservative. (Cisgendered dude who got married and had a kid? HETERONORMATIVE. Tumblr hates Dan.)
I love that an opinionated gay writer can be seen as too “traditional.” THAT, to me, is true cultural progress.
I think its also his transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism, rape apologism, etc that makes Tumblr not like him. He’s clearly only here for the cis white gays
Yes, I’m well aware that some people consider Dan Savage an “awful human being” for all sorts of reasons. I’m not here to change anyone’s opinion of Dan Savage. I’m here to ogle his husband.
He might to some extent, but he also pretty strongly espouses the Sex-At-Dawn theories of evo psych which are tooottally at odds with the traditional “standard narrative” stuff. His views may have changed over time, too, I’m not sure- I know that he used to claim that male bisexuality basically wasn’t a thing, and has since said that he was very wrong about that.
Ogling is what sustains me. Ogling others, others ogling me, ogling my boyf, my boyf ogling me, my boyf ogling others. It’s ego stroking, it’s a shared pasttime, it’s one way of appreciating each other and it’s a reminder that in spite of the day-to-day doldrums that can come and go, he’s still a total frickin’ babe. Who cares if his farts smell like hell, he’s hot as balls.
Also? Somehow, I have only ever seen Terry in photos with a shirt on, and I feel like I’ve been cheated!!
My spouse and I ogle different things, which is amusing at places like Ren Faire – I ogle boobs, he ogles butts – so we miss each other’s ogling objects, because we’re often looking at two different exemplars!
We do both ogle good costuming, though, so we can at least compare notes on that.
It’s still tons of fun, though. 🙂
How can you not default to boobs at a Ren Faire? Those puppies are on display in finest form, while butts are all hidden under layers of skirts.
oooh, unless in its a guy in those renn fest Tight Pants.. .. … mmmm—– huh? I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
Men in kilts! at Renfair is the best thing in the world.
I’m causally aware that there are words in this article, but I can’t find them because they’re not printed on Terry’s abs.
I took a history of psychology class a few years back, and even in the 1950’s, the pre-eminent historian of psychology, E.G. Boring (I KNOW RIGHT?!), mentioned this sort of spousal dynamic in his paper “The Woman Problem.” (If you’re curious – you can read it here: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Boring/woman.htm )
While he was discussing (from his 1950’s white old boy’s club) why women don’t achieve the same prestige as men in psychology, he made the observation that women often have to make a choice between career and marriage, or at least attempt to strike some sort of balance – where men (at that time, and still, often today) don’t have to make the same sort of sacrifices to marriage. Men, Boring pointed out, can usually make their marriages work in their favor for their career, while women are usually forced to sacrifice career for marriage . I was just saying to a colleague yesterday – “I need a wife. I need a stay-at-home, June Cleaver, 1950’s esque WIFE. Then I can devote all my time and energy to work and not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or anything else but my research.” (Sound familiar?)
I’m lucky inasmuch as if my spouse and I do decide to have children at some point down the road, he has volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad. Right now, however, we need to be a two-income household to pay the rent and the bills. When that changes, though, he’s more than willing to be a stay-at-home spouse and take care of the place so I can focus my energies on research. Many grad students/female academics don’t have that luxury. Being the supportive spouse is tough on its own, for many reasons – and the supported spouse needs to appreciate and cherish their partner for the support that they are being given.
I liked the points in the post, though – be loving, supportive, helpful, appreciative, and take care of yourself as well. Also – COSMIC VIBES that yesterday I thought about the need for a stay-at-home spouse, and then BAM! Offbeat Empire posts about a flaming hot stay-at-home spouse and how that assists with a workaholic’s success.
What’s interesting here is that there is one very big way in which I have NOT modeled my marriage after Terry: in my family, I’m the primary breadwinner. My husband definitely is the primary caregiver.
Then again, I work from home (so I’m sorta a housewife), so maybe my husband and I both identify as Terry.
…THERE’S A LITTLE TERRY IN ALL OF US, YOU GUYS.
Ah, but (as you well know) working from home doesn’t mean you’re not working. Often, it’s even more important to have that isolation from house-environment when you’re working from (as opposed to working in an office environment, for example).
I know that if/when my spouse and I end up in this sort of dynamic, I will be in the office and lab 12+ hours a day, because I just can’t seem to work from home (Spouse – too distracting. Cats – way too distracting. Chores – even more distracting.) , and my spouse may want to take a part-time job just to get out of the house (or maybe not. He did have a pretty sweet gig as a bookkeeper for years and years where he could stay at home and only have to go to the office for 4 hours each week on a Friday, and he probably misses that sort of thing.), or not.
I just don’t think I’m made to be Terry, and my spouse has indicated his willingness to be Terry if I can be the primary breadwinner (which, fingers crossed, I can be in a few years). As with all things, YMMV, and it’s an individual fit to each person and each relationship.
It does confirm what I’ve suspected for a long time, though, and I’ve read and been told flat-out – there is no such thing as a “work-life balance.” There’s no one magic formula. You prioritize what’s important to you, and go for your goals – and the math changes for different goals, and also changes with the addition of a partner (or partners) to that dynamic. It’s easier math when one partner wants to be more career focused and the other wants to be more family focused – but you can never have it all. (Sadface.)
EDIT: There’s a little Terry in all of us? OW OW! Oh baby! What an awesome image for the rest of my day… because I totally took it there, and will willingly do so again and again (oh, in my dreams!) 😀
I’d take a little Terry in me. 😉
HA! Come to think of it, based on what I’ve seen on Instagram, I think if Terry were in you… it would not be little.
Needs a *SNORT!* button. 😉
I’ll take a little, I’ll take a lot… whatevs. 😉
I’ll take 2 please.
I’m currently living at home while I’m saving up to get married, and my mom jokingly calls me her “wife” because I do stuff like cook dinner and do laundry and clean the house while she and my dad and my sister work full-time. I definitely agree that a “support staff” at home can really contribute to career success, because it frees up a LOT of time for the working individual. My mom is always so relieved when she comes home and dinner and tomorrow’s lunches are made, the laundry’s done, and all that she has to do is the crossword.
In addition to impeccable pecs, Terry also has impeccable music taste and it is too bad he doesn’t have an mp3 blog anymore. Boo-hoo. I miss Terry’s Musical Life all of the time.
OMG, I knew Terry was a DJ, but had no idea there was a now-retired mp3 blog in his history…
There was once a professor in his 60s who gave his grad students a pie chart of how they should spend their time each week. It was laughable. There was 2 hours of “free time” scheduled in for the ENTIRE WEEK. There was no mention of cooking, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, KIDs, etc. because his wife does all that for him, so it didn’t occur to him to put that in the chart of acceptable ways for graduate students to spend their time. There was such a huge disconnect between him and the majority of his students, many of whom were single and female OR partnered with another person who worked outside their home with multiple demands on their time. The reality is that most people have to sacrifice a LOT to have an intense career. But a supportive partner lessens the amount that you have to sacrifice. And I just don’t want to end up stuck in one role or the other. (Sorry for commenting a lot on this, but these are issues I’m rolling around in my head with no clear resolution.)
Trainwreck question: how did he respond when this was pointed out to him?
Luckily an older student in the lab showed me this before I had to make the decision to join. I mean, that man did incredible science and is still probably the best scientist I’ve ever met. I don’t think anyone dared point it out to him…
As a first year grad student we had a “panel” of tenured professors talk about work/life balance for us. Most of them commented that they (a) still wished they were single so they could live in the lab/office, and thus get more work done, and (b) said that you should be eating, breathing, and sleeping grad school.
So much for a happy relationship with a significant other, pets, housekeeping, cooking, or hobbies that enrich our lives.
I feel miserable and conflicted because I want it all – a spotless apartment/living space, a happy relationship with my spouse, to cook awesome food, to grow things, to express my creativity through dance, music, and sewing/crocheting, to pay attention and cherish our awesome cats who I adore, and also to be a competitive and successful grad student with a long publication list, lots of service position, lots of academic positions, then move on to a similarly successful post-doc and from there to research-based academia and tenure.
I can’t do it all. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Letting go is hard. My spouse is willing to sacrifice a lot (he already has sacrificed a ton) to support my dreams and my career, but I still feel inadequate, frustrated, and miserable, because *I* want to do it all – and I can’t. I don’t know if there’s a way to make me less miserable and frustrated other than to accept that there are choices we must make, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. We have to choose what we focus our time and energies on – make sure it’s the things that are most important to you.
If it makes you feel better, I think there are a lot of people in your position and others that have already let it go. I have let it go and have some “alternative career” options lined up. One of those options has already been squashed by funding cuts, but I still feel much better because this is more me. Being in an incredibly competitive environment isn’t great for me- my personality is more along the lines of rainbows and flowers let’s help everyone do science TOGETHER with smiles. That’s not reality.
My husband is getting a degree that gives him lots of options. He is also pretty much done with research and is going to go into a specialty with lower pay but a better lifestyle. I fully support this because… I like him and would like to see him occasionally. I just have weird guilt about not being equally solid in my career track, and it’s not like being an adjunct professor is a sustainable living for the long term these days. And since he’ll be the one making 80% ??? of our income, I feel like it’s smarter to go where it’s best for him rather than me drag him to a small city in the middle of nowhere for my job. Taking the backseat into the “supportive partner” role doesn’t bother me until I remember that I’m a woman, and then I feel like a terrible feminist. I feel like I’m an equal partner IN my relationship, but in the context of society, I’m not. WEIRD FEELINGS.
For me, the feminist failings are that I’m not SUPER CAREER WONDER WOMAN HOMEMAKER MOM DOING IT ALL.
Even though I *know* that it’s bullshit and you can’t do it all. I still want to do it all – or, at least, have someone else take care of the spotless house/awesome food/growing things/etc. I can live with research, seeing my spouse and pets occasionally, and dancing. Even then, though – it’s still that niggling feeling of guilt that if I was a better person, or a better woman, I could do it all. Like Ariel said above – “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle! I’m an independent person and I can DO IT ALL!” (wharblegarble etc. etc.)
Somehow I have to let go of my super-depressing Superwoman dreams and accept reality – I can be good at a few things, but I can never be good at all the things. Especially since my dream is to be in the lab, doing science, until I die. Preferably at 100+, like Rita Levy-Montalcini. (Kickass scientist!)
Oh, I am intimately familiar…her work is cited in the introduction to half the papers on my desk! I would tell you more, but I don’t want to reveal my TRUE IDENTITY.
The feminist in me weeps when I consider this dichotomy as I am in the same situation. My husband is pursuing a doctorate in the hard sciences and working as a research assistant. I am working on a clinical doctorate and trapped in the adjunct cycle. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that he loves his job more than I love mine. I’ll admit that there are several things that I would prefer to do besides what will earn the most money after I graduate. I would rather LIVE than WORK and there are few academic positions where one can escape the pressures of publication, tenure, etc. That’s not my style, but it works for him. I’d rather grow things and feed animals and be active in my community for things I strongly believe in. That feeds my soul, whereas the academic world I’ve worked so hard for sucks me dry.
The problem is, I fear that I’m falling into the stale societal norms where the woman looses here career prospects so the man can focus on his. This is enraging. But the fact is, that this will likely be our reality not simply because I am the female or the trailing academic, but because his job gives him greater joy than mine while I find greater joy in homesteading activities and community. My joys are not compatible with the competition of academia, but they are compatible with teaching at a college that values education over publication and actually allows some semblance of the mysterious work/life balance.
Overcoming expectations, whether self-imposed or societally created, is tough stuff. Maybe when I feel like the decision has been made and we are on to the next stage, I will find it easier to simply settle in as opposed to needing to defend my worth when my worth isn’t actually being critiqued by anyone but me.
justanothersciencenerd, Shii, and Holly (hopefully you’ll all see this):
Thank you so much for your comments and great discussion! You’ve all articulated a very fundamental part of my dissatisfaction with my career right now. I’ve been an engineer full-time for 2 years after 5.5 years getting my 2 engineering degrees, and I’m finding that it just doesn’t fulfill me the way I hoped it might. I love the rest of the things going on in my life, and my job is good, but maybe not something I want to be doing until I retire, and it’s been really hard to admit that.
Part of it is that I spent so much time fighting my way through school, and now I’m the only female engineer in my (admittedly small) office. A huge part of me doesn’t want to give it up, because how does that look to the outside world? Another woman who just couldn’t hack it as an engineer, didn’t try hard enough, etc. Up until college I really wanted to be a writer, either a journalist or a novelist or screenwriter, and my writing was quite good. But I also had a natural aptitude for math, so I went with the more practical and “safe” choice. But dammit, I don’t love it, and maybe one day it will be okay to quit and pursue something else that will make my heart sing! (And in the meantime, I’ll keep feeding my savings account.)
So, I really appreciate hearing that I’m not alone, at least in the struggle between career and life-balance desires and your perceived feminist duties.
Recently ran across a comic that’s particularly related to this discussion. There is brief mention of staying home to care for children, which may be less applicable, but the overall message resonates. I’ll be hanging it on my fridge. Enjoy!
Oh, that’s a great one. It speaks perfectly to the conflict between society’s definition of success, and yours, assuming your life goal isn’t “make lots of money.” It’s hard for me to distinguish what I really want and what society has foisted upon me as The Right Way. In some ways I have bought into the conventional definition without realizing it, so it’s something to chew on. Thank you.
Hi! Are you me? I’m bored in my über-practical engineering job and secretly want to write a novel.
Yes! I bet there are a lot of us out there.
Two hours of free time? How much did he allow for sleep, if anything? Or was this just a pie chart for waking hours?
Sadly, I can think of a number of academics who would love to hand out charts like this to their grad students. I can think of a number of grad students who would try to wait until the professor left the room before tearing it up in disgust and laughing, crying, or both.
Just to be sure… you’re saying that a gay marriage IMPROVED your straight marriage? 🙂
Yep! Now I’mma go look at some pictures and get weepy:
Michigan courts are working on the “gay marriage” thing right now. Can you come talk to some reporters and tell them how having the /definition of marriage in the state Constitution/ is so blatantly imbecilic?
It improved mine too! Dan Savage’s column helped me grow the hell up and let go of the nonsense that I was taught as a kid. I think it’s made us better people and better parents; I know that it’s certainly made us more relaxed.
I will admit I have struggled with the whole “keep looking good” part of the relationship. Not because my husband hasn’t maintained his physique – he certainly has! – but because sometimes it feels slightly wrong to demand or ask for such a thing.
It’s a fine line to walk between being body positive and buillding your partner up regardless of what they look like and still being able to say, “I like you best when you look like THIS.” My husband knows that I would love him regardless of shape, size or anything else physical that might change about him. But he also knows that I have the strongest physical attraction to him when he’s working out and has those lovely abs I know and love. And I know that he’s most attracted to me when I maintain my physical form a certain way. But we’ve struggled with how to say that stuff in a respectful and supportive way.
I know that for some people, attraction might be totally separate from physical appearance at all. I also get that people can be totally unreasonable in demands on others and that can cause issues. But I think it can be become tricky to verbalize to partners when we prefer them with a certain shape, size or appearance, because it veers so very close to sensitive topics. It’s still something I’ve trying to figure out. But I do totally still have times when (like at the pool) when I do want to point and shout “Hey everyone, look at my husband and his Speedo – look at how good he looks!”
…it feels slightly wrong to demand or ask for such a thing.
You’ll note that I did not suggest “Tell your partner to get hotter.” For me, this is a choice I’ve made for myself. I’d be uncomfortable telling my partner that THEY should make that choice.
Oh, I didn’t suggest you did. I do think that physical attraction is often a large part of keeping a relationship happy and healthy, and that while it helps to focus on oneself, I do struggle to try to figure out how or when its appropriate to breach such a topic with a partner. I’ve followed Dan Savage and Terry Miller for a while online, and it’s pretty clear that Dan is pretty happy to let the world know how hot (at least by his standards) his husband is – and I can certainly see why. If I was married to that man, I’d want to put an announcement in the Times that i was hitting that. It raises the question for me, then, about what kind of duty to owed to a partner regarding physical appearance that will maintain an attraction – and how that reciprocates. I never read your piece as saying a partner has a duty to “get hotter” for anyone. I read it as sort of negotiating what that term, “hotter” means in context.Obviously, it means different things to different people – but my mind immediately went to how a couple could suss that word out for themselves in a comfortable and respectful way. Of course, this is probably just an example of lawyer-brain going too far.
I was wondering when someone would bring this aspect up (it niggled at me after I finished reading). I can say that in my experience, changing physically has interesting results. Both my husband and I were athletes once — not quite demigods, but I can say that I got pretty close — and we’re both WAY physically fallen to the sloth-like end of the scale over the last decade.
I think the “keep looking good” is really just working to acknowledge what works for your partner in a reasonable way. I honestly, truly love my husband’s current shape… not DESPITE it being somewhat pillow-like, but BECAUSE it’s pillow-like! 😉 It’s funny how you don’t know everything you like, until you encounter it coupled with someone you love.
Yeah, I tried to acknowledge that in the post when I noted, “I am in imminently better condition now than I was when I married my husband, and I take way better care of myself — not just physically, but emotionally, too.”
For me, “hotter” absolutely isn’t just about physical attractiveness (…whatever attractiveness means to you!). I may not have expressed this very well in the post. For myself, I can only say that I feel like I’m emotionally “hotter” than I used to be: http://offbeathome.com/2013/09/relationships-job-titles
Getting hotter can even mean body acceptance – because confidence, just like taking care of yourself emotionally, can also be “hotness”. It could mean: accept your body, take care of your body, be generous with the fact that indeed, we will age, learn about the tremendous range of physical intimacy…
Thank you for saying this better than I did!
Considering how body-positive/trans-positive/female-positive/bi-positive/supportive of sexual abuse survivors the offbeat sites usually are, it is waaaay weird to see Dan Savage on here. I know you’re just using one example of his life to illuminate a point, but, really? He’s just so bigoted towards so many things this site supportive of that it was very jarring to see his name here.
In case anybody is curious to what I’m talking about (besides the super problematic, super short sited “It Gets Better” campaign):
Yep, I addressed this up-thread:
I know you responded. I try to read everything before I respond, especially if my gut reaction is frustration. It is still weird to see him here, and how he’s problematic wasn’t really addressed, more dismissed.
I don’t think the issue is that he’s ‘too traditional’ – its that he’s a shallow bigot, and if you don’t fall into what he finds attractive, or his definition of what is ‘acceptable’ in the gay/lesbian world as he sees it, you can go fuck yourself. Again, considering how inclusive you are, and how exclusive he is (to put it mildly), it is just… odd to see here. Is it the fact that he’s gay that lets him get away with saying terrible shit that folks would NEVER tolerate (maybe) otherwise? Imagine if Mitt Romney (random straight conservative choice on my part) said half the stuff Dan did… do you think he’s get the pass of “Mitt’s an opinionated asshole — that’s basically his job as a contrarian political writer”? That gives you a pass to berate rape victims? To call transgendered people wackjobs and use slurs against them in your writing? Are you looking to Pat Robertson for marriage inspiration? Glen Beck?
I’m not saying I want this article taken down, nor that I adore the offbeat world (and you, Ariel) any less. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why this is bothering me so much. At the end of the day, like Dan’s writing, is just an article online. Why the hell should I even care who inspired such good advice. I think I just want any advice he gives to been seen in context of him as a human being… an awful human being. I’m just freaked out on the pass he seems to get and the influence he holds.
I don’t want anyone to feel dismissed — we’re all entitled to differing opinions about who qualifies as an “awful human being.” I’ll concede that Dan sucks… in some ways, doesn’t that make it even more remarkable that his husband is so amazingly supportive?
I’m glad somebody said this. I thought it was weird to see him here, too. For me, I can’t focus on whatever the good is because there’s just so much bad. He’s bigoted and his relationship advice is awful. He advocates lying to your partner and having an affair if their sex drive doesn’t match yours. How is this someone we should learn from?
With all due respect, Dan absolutely does not advocate cheating. He advocates being honest about your sex drive and perhaps opening up the relationship (is an open relationship what you mean by cheating? Because they are very different things) but he is very explicitly against lying and cheating in all but the most extreme cases (like, you’ve told your spouse you want more sex for ten years and you have kids and finances tied together and they won’t budge and you’re just dying inside).
He is not perfect because he’s human but I listen to his podcast regularly and there’s plenty to critique without twisting his words around.
Except he does. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/dan-savage-cheating-can-s_n_3362115.html
I don’t consider polyamory/open relationships cheating.
I understand that it’s a huge problem if a couple has a mismatched sex drive, particularly if they have a great relationship otherwise and/or shared responsibilities. But I don’t think it’s ever okay to go behind your partner’s back. That’s incredibly disrespectful and wrong, regardless of if needs are being met or not. And I don’t buy into the whole “what they don’t know can’t hurt them” idea.
Most of my issue with Dan is the way he’s tried to exclude anyone that isn’t a cis gay man from the LGBT+ movement/community. He’s said some incredibly hurtful things, and I’m pretty tired of it. I know a lot of straight people and gay people that love him because they think he’s funny and straightforward, but most of the other bi/trans/non binary/etc folk I’ve talked to about him feel incredibly hurt and alienated by him. And for good reason. I don’t think he’s a good role model, and I’m kind of sick of people asserting he is.
I’m not a moral absolutist. Not in the slightest. I don’t believe in good and bad people. But when someone is known for their sex advice and leadership of the LGBT community and they haven’t done a good job of either, that’s a problem.
I’m bisexual. I have had plenty of people say I’m really either gay or straight, and they look to people within the community for back up for that, and they’ve found that with Savage. Yes, he’s changed his points a little bit, but he still likes to talk about how bisexuality is a phase. And that’s not good. The LGBT “community” is rampant with body policing, biphobia and transphobia and people like Savage are a huge part of that. Why should a person like that be someone we look up to when there are all kinds of role models that have been inclusive and fair all along?
I used to really dislike bell hooks because I found many of the things she wrote to be dismissive and non-inclusive. Then I read about her reaction to Paulo Freire. She liked many of the things he had to say about education but couldn’t reconcile everything. That’s when she wrote something that has been with me ever since. She “drank the water from his mud”. After that I was able to appreciate all sorts of ideas from bell hooks, despite parts of her philosophy that have irked me.
There is a strange disconnect between the support modeled by the Offbeat Empire and Dan Savage as a whole. That doesn’t mean Dan Savage has no relevance here. What I saw Ariel doing in the article was showing us the water she’s been able to parse from Dan Savage’s mud, or sludge as the case may be.
That is a great quote. Nobody is ALL bad or ALL good. And even if 99% of what someone says or does it shitty, that 1% can still be good or meaningful to someone.
Specifically to Dan Savage, I’ve only been reading him for less than 5 years, so my impression of him is much much different. I could be wrong since I don’t read everything he says, but I think he’s reversed a lot of his former stances on bisexuality and the trans* community. After reading the “New Age” Savage, I was really shocked to read his opinions of things from 10-15 years ago that other people linked.
I’ve been hearing for years (from Dan himself) how hot his husband is. I had no idea until today. Thanks for spreading the hotness!
Great piece. Really great.
And if you and your hubby are watching the right episode of House of Cards [SPOILER ALERT] you’ll know that the Underwoods agree as well.
Seriously?? I would hate it if I was someone who feel the need to flaunt their body when they are in their 30s (teens are excused from showing their body off on Instagram). Gross, yuck. I’m glad I’m with someone who’s not vain enough to waste their time on gym and calculating calories and have other interests. That being said, to each their own but I just don’t agree with the message of this post.
That’s really inspiring for people who want to follow their dreams and passion instead of moving with the crowd. It is difficult to follow your dreams but once you go through the struggle it requires and taste success, there’s nothing like it.