By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
''What people don't always get'' about the column, says Savage, ''is, it's not binding arbitration. You're free to ignore it. Sometimes I say things I don't mean. I say, 'Get drunk and drive fast.' I'm not unaware that that's bad 'advice.' ''
Certain of the columnist's critics have griped that the line between calculated glibness and lousy politics is not always well drawn. Last year, a gay rights group pilloried him for his ''failure'' to promote the rights Initiative 677.Columnist Isadora Altman, claims Savage, ''tried to get me kicked out of the San Francisco Weekly. Dumb earth mother hippie dippie Isadora said I was setting the gay and lesbian movement back 50 years. That would be, oh, 1944, when we were being rounded up and lobotomized, right? She got GLAAD to call my column a hate crime.'' (Altman declined to comment on the charge.) When pro-sex activists from Sex Panic lobbied Savage to endorse a statement tacitly condemning journalists Gabriel Rotello's and Michelangelo Signorile's moralistic pronùnciamention promiscuous gay sex, he refused and was labeled a traitor. ''I can't sign on with pink totalitarianism. The AIDS crisis is over. Three years ago in Seattle, 500 people died. There were 30 deaths this year. Habeas corpus. We're stepping over the bodies of women with cervical cancer, elderly gays and lesbians, people with hepatitis, as if there were only one disease in the world. It's instructive that all of the hate mail I get is from fags.''
There's enough of it, apparently, that Savage recently began omitting references to his personal life from the column, stopped citing his partner of four years, and barely mentions the event that has brought him in line with the foremothers of the advice-writing racket--the arrival of an infant son. ''I prefer not to get death threats with his name on them,'' Savage merrily remarks.
''I'm someone who always wanted to have a kid,'' he continues. ''I'd never really expected to luck into a gig where I could afford it." Adopting "was a mellowing experience. It also taught me a lot about my own posture,'' a posture centered, of course, on being publicly out. ''For all the dick I suck,'' says Savage, ''I don't feel that gay anymore. Identity is an act of will, not a fact. You can't take a scraping of someone's DNA for their identity. I think we tend to overanalyze each other. This need to know the reason why something makes your dick hard or your pussy wet can really take the erotic substance out of life.''