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Sex-advice ace Dan Savage on the loose in new book

Wednesday - 5/29/2013, 3:04pm  ET

In this photo taken on May 22, 2013, author Dan Savage is in his home in Seattle. Savage's latest book, "American Savage," was released on Tuesday, May 28. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's been quite a run for Dan Savage, what with all the podcasting and tweeting and in-your-face defending of marriage equality.

Between speaking gigs, radio and TV appearances and the syndicated sex-advice column he writes from a desk that belonged to Ann Landers, Savage managed another book, "American Savage," out this week from Dutton.

Savage, 48, looks back on his mom, who died in 2008, takes us into his rationale for why cheating may just save your marriage and offers a glimpse of life at home with husband Terry Miller and their 15-year-old son.

He says he wanted to write the book in part because "you know, I'm kind of gay and kind of prominent and I've been slugging away at the marriage equality issue for a long time." But the book is about more than that. Savage talked to the AP about upsetting social conservatives, trashing the Bible and being among the first same-sex couples to legally marry in Washington state.

AP: How has becoming a father and watching your child grow changed you as a sex-advice columnist?

Savage: It has changed me a little bit. I've been getting letters from teenagers who are 14, 15 and 16 years old, and sexually active, and with questions or problems, and I would give them advice, and now when I get a letter from a 15-year-old I look at my son, who's 15, and I think, 'You're too young to be reading my column, you're too young to be in this situation.'

It's that getting older and becoming a parent and sort of drifting into that hypocrisy and the great forgetting of what being 15 is like, because I was sexually active at 15 and I'm fine, but when it comes to your own kid, you look at your own kid and go, 'No, no you have to wait at least 10 more years.' There's a surprising conservatism that parenting can unearth in your soul.

AP: Do you have any regrets about your speech last year at the high school journalism conference in which you said there was bull--- in the Bible and called a walkout by a small number of participants "a pansy-assed move?"

Savage: Yeah, I do. When you screw up you want to apologize and I did apologize for 'pansy-assed.' That was name-calling and that was hypocritical of me. I didn't apologize for 'bull----' in the Bible because there is, indeed, bull---- in the Bible. ... I don't pull punches when it comes to religion and I cannot avoid religion talking about the abuse of (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) kids because so much has a religious motivation or rationalization.

AP: How does your late mother, who was a lay minister, influence your work?

Savage: My mother was really compassionate. There are three women I credit for sort of stumbling onto this gig and it being the right gig for me, and that was always Ann Landers, Xavier Hollander, who wrote the 'Happy Hooker' column in Penthouse magazine, and my mother.

My mom was Dr. Phil for the neighborhood. I was a weird sort of sensitive mama's boy and I would be in the kitchen, you know, hanging out doing nothing, sitting under the table while my mother sat there and hashed out problems with neighbor ladies and gave them advice. It was really listening to my mother give advice, and talk things out and listen to people and pick up on what they wanted, what they didn't want. My mother used to say, 'That's the way the world works. You make a living doing what I did as a woman for free.'

AP: Amid the backlash from religious conservatives over your speech to the high school journalism students, you invited Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage for dinner and a tense dinner-table debate, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube. How was it off-camera, behind the scenes?

Savage: I didn't run it by Terry, that I was going to invite a very prominent anti-gay bigot into our house for dinner, so I had to come home and say, 'Oh honey, guess who's coming to dinner?' That did not go over well. The debate itself was really tense. I think I over-prepared. It felt like all the pressure of Christmas and then none of the delight. You know, all the preparation for a big Christmas dinner and instead of it being Santa Claus and chocolates and presents showing up it's a bigot.

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