Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gratuitous sucking sound

One of the great things about my last post being passed around the internet like a mongloid hooker during Fleet Week was that I was linked to by Dan Savage, the man whose latest book The Commitment, I happen to be reading. Now, I've long been a supporter of Dan's. When I mean that I am a supporter, it means dropping a cold twenty-five bucks for a hardcover of one of his books (the proficient bugger seems to put one out about every two years). I've also sung his praises at dinner parties across the Los Angeles basin, and more recently, I've been directing a good deal of my employer's advertising dollars to web publishers that run his column (not only because I love Dan, but because I think his readers are the kind of folks who care how a t-shirt fits). Needless to say I'm a fan, and on that day that Dan finally wakes up, lays aside his twink-chasing and decides that he actually likes men, I'd be the first to volunteer as happy homewrecker (come on Dan, you know that deep down, you really want a big, hairy bloke who looks ridiculous in a Speedo).

Well, at least I would have been willing to play Vronsky to Dan's Anna until I read this book. Cuz let me tell you, it's a heart-string yanking weepy. Dan Savage is in love. Old-fashioned, romantic, semi-monogamous love. He's been together for ten years with his boyfriend Terry, and the book is essentially about how two fags in love deal with the whole new terrain of gay marriage, from Dan's Catholic mom pressuring them to get hitched, to their six-year-old son insisting that "boys don't marry boys".

This is all very dizzy, coming from a guy who writes a sex column in which he frequently encourages people to cheat on their spouses and then lie about it. But Dan inevitably does so in the cause of trying to actually make things work for couples. You see, Dan isn't the jaded fag that he's so often mistaken for; he's actually more traditional then many straight people, including his own siblings that he discusses in the book. I mean, this is a guy who bought Ann Lander's Desk! He summed this up eloquently when he was on Bill Maher recently, and announced that Bill lived more of a gay lifestyle then he did. Ain't it the truth. Reading about Dan And Terry, seeing how they interact with their son, is a far more authentic exercise in the promotion of family values then any screed written by Rick Santorum could ever be. Besides, unlike certain right wing childless screeching harridans, Dan Savage is actually a parent, and like any true parent, he realizes how howlingly funny raising a kid can be (There is a scene in a motel in South Dakota where Dan has to apply ointment to his son's road-rashed ass while the young boy yells out IT HURTS DADDY! MY BUTTHOLE HURTS!OW OW OW! loud enough for the entire Red State to hear).

My favorite passage though comes when Dan talks about trying to reconcile his rather conservative instincts as a parent and "husband" with the open-mindedness he's had to learn because of his membership in a sexual minority. "Sometimes," he writes, "I get down on my knees and thank the God-I'm-no-longer-convinced-exists that I'm gay. If I wasn't so attracted to tall blond guys who look good in Speedos, I would have probably grown up to be an insufferable, judgmental prude".

This is exactly how I feel. I cringe with dread when I realize what a self-righteous twat I would have been if I wasn't gay. Oh, in many ways I still am a twat, but because I wasn't able to slide right into smug, Mormon, Republican, lawyerly self-regard, because I had to question everything I'd been taught as a way of questioning what I'd been taught about myself, I learned to look with a cautiously sceptical eye. I'm still often self-righteous, but at least I have a sense of humor that I lacked back when I wore the somber black badge of a missionary. I also try and check myself when it comes to making or believing absolute statements. All in all, by being a queer, I was forced to be an outsider. And by being an outsider, I was forced to develop a bit of empathy, a small measure of resistance to condemning others whose behavior I don't yet or cannot understand. I'll still make judgments, but they are more measured. The biggest irony of my life is the conviction I've come to deeply believe that as an agnostic, liberal, hedonistic sodomite, I am a better Christian now then I ever would have been without this particularly lovely cross to bear.

Still, Christian charity aside, I really hope that this statement makes Rick Santorum's head explode. Pharisee ain't in it.


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