“Whatever twisted, disgusting things happen in this auditorium are your own fault,” Dan Savage warned before taking the first question of the evening. A prominent Savage Love sex columnist and gay rights activist, Savage is the creator of the It Gets Better Project, and for one night, was the personal sexual advisor to three hundred Northwestern students at McCormick Auditorium in Norris.
At the event, sponsored by Rainbow Alliance and College Feminists, volunteers collected the anonymous questions — ranging from online dating woes to morning-after etiquette — and handed them up to the podium for Savage to answer.
In just over an hour and a half, Savage explained how to acquaint yourself with anal sex (start with butt plugs and work your way up), how to tell your parents that you’re seeing someone you met online (just gloss over the details) and how to climax when all else fails (the Hitachi magic wand). For those nervous about making the first move, Savage recommended that longtime staple of college romance: a couple of beers. “I believe you should take all things in moderation, including moderation itself,” he said to thunderous applause.
One question, received with general amusement, wondered whether it was reasonable to consider dumping a girlfriend who had suddenly lost all interest in sex. If she didn’t have a good reason, absolutely, said Savage. “We have a right to expect sex in our sexual relationships.”
He also maintained that this includes times when the sex is unconventional, citing the example of a man with a metal detector fetish, whose partner indulges him by hiding quarters in his pockets. “So often I meet people who say, ‘I would take a bullet for my partner, I would do anything for him,’” Savage said, “but you won’t pee on him? I mean, come on! There’s nothing inherently wrong with that!”
Has he heard of a fetish that truly disgusted him? “No,” Savage insisted. “For the most part, human beings are all insanely perverse.” And with the advent of the internet — “the great sex-freak sorting mechanism” — the seriously unusual fetishists tend to be sorted out of the mix.
The session veered into more serious territory with the second-to-last question: What can we do about the recent rash of gay teen suicides?
First, said Savage, we have to understand what’s happening. He places the blame on right-wing fundamentalist Christian groups that “inject hate” into their communities, with children who absorb that bigotry and direct it towards their LGBT classmates, with school boards that allow the harassment to go unpunished and the politicians who continue to fight against gay rights.
He went on to say that anti-gay politicians should be discredited the same way that pro-segregation politicians were in the 70s. “We can’t let these people go on CNN, to be interviewed like their bigotry is acceptable,” Savage said. “They have to be held accountable.”
The It Gets Better Project, a series of YouTube videos filmed for LGBT teens harassed by their classmates, families, or religious communities, is Savage’s attempt to reach teens without positive LGBT role models. “When I read about Asher Brown, all I could think was, ‘I wish I could have talked to that kid for five minutes,’” said Savage. “And It Gets Better is the closest I can get.”
He left to a standing ovation.