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Fighting homophobia with internet activism
Why you should follow Savage Lovecast host Dan Savage
Here’s the second segment from Friday’s episode with BioHacked: Family Secrets host T.J. Raphael. I love when guests talk about one of their favorite podcasters. Call me biased (I definitely am), but I think we all intuitively have a lot more to say about our fav podcast & YouTube video creators because the mediums feel so intimate.
ERIC: T.J., let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for "someone you don't know, but want to be friends with," and you said Dan Savage, who was on Instagram and Facebook @DanSavage and on Twitter @fakedansavage.
Dan is a writer and LBGT rights advocate. And he first got famous for writing a newspaper column called Savage Love, which I think started in The Stranger, which is like an alternative newspaper in Seattle. But you told me in your email that you are especially into the companion podcast to Savage Love, right?
TJ: Yeah, absolutely. The Savage Lovecast is one of the longest-running podcasts. I think it started back when podcasts were still uploaded to iPods, and I think I started listening to Dan almost 10 years ago. I've been really into podcasting for a very long time. How I got into audio journalism was, I was 20 years old and my friend had an iPod and was like "There's this thing called This American Life, do you want to listen?" And that was over 15 years ago now, almost, and so yeah, I started listening to Dan really early on.
He does great relationship, sex, love advice in the Savage Lovecast. It's a call-in based show, so people call with their questions and ask him for advice. And some of the questions that he gets are just bizarre, they're funny, they're sad, some of them are shocking, and I just find it entertaining and really fascinating. And as somebody who also is really interested in questions around sexuality, around gender, around feminism, the advice he gives kind of touches all of that, and how we think about people and relationships as we move through the world.
So I've been a big fan of the podcast, and then he also does a lot of political commentary, both at the top of the show and on Twitter as well. He's still at The Stranger, I believe he's the editorial director of it now. Alt-weekly magazines and publications are a dying breed, unfortunately, but The Stranger is still going strong. I've never even been to Seattle, but I've donated to The Stranger just because I love his podcast.
So yeah, he's just really funny. I also listen to lots of political podcasts, so I like Dan's political commentary online that he does through Twitter. And as somebody hosting a podcast about sperm and egg donors, I have a definite interest in sort of reproductive medicine, and history, and he kind of tweets a lot about that kind of thing, given his focus in his show. So yeah, that's one of the reasons I love following him and he makes me laugh, too. He kind of doesn't take himself too seriously.
ERIC: Yeah, speaking of both political commentary and making us laugh, I was looking at Dan's Wikipedia page, which reminded me that he was responsible for this iconic moment in online political activism, you might say. You may know where I'm going with this.
TJ: (laughs) Yeah.
ERIC: He and his fans of Savage Love decided to basically redefine the word "santorum," which was the last name of this homophobic Republican senator, who had said some not-acceptable, nasty stuff about gay people. And this is a vaguely family-friendly podcast, I will not get too specific, but for the adults listening, it's a brilliant bit of internet activism. I strongly encourage you, if you are an adult, to go read up about what they rebranded santorum to mean.
TJ: Yeah, it's a gross definition, for sure. But yeah, it's really funny that he was able to do that when Rick Santorum was sort of crusading against the LGBTQ community in the United States. And this was way before gay marriage had even become law in the United States.
And Dan, interestingly enough, invented a couple other words that we now use as part of dating culture. I think he invented the word "monogamish" and I know like some people that are in quasi-open relationships, they use that term to just describe themselves. And I learned that from listening to his show the other day, he's like yeah, we invented this term eight years ago, and I was like oh wow, I didn't even know that. So he's actually had some influence on the broader culture that I don't even think some of us probably even realize. So yeah, he seems like a cool person that I would like to hang out with and pick his brain all day long. So that's why he's definitely on my list.
ERIC: That's my next question, which is hypothetically, let's say Dan calls you up and says "T.J., I just heard you on my favorite podcast Follow Friday, you seem cool, let's be friends." Do you wanna go somewhere with him, do you wanna just get coffee and talk about something? What's on your mind?
TJ: Yeah, I would just wanna get dinner and talk to him probably about politics, probably about reproductive healthcare. He's a huge champion for access to safe, legal abortion. So I've spent a lot of the last few years looking into reproductive healthcare for the podcast. And then in addition to that, when I was at WNYC and I was a producer, I was making sure that we were doing a series on reproductive healthcare. And I helped book the head of the UN Women's organization to come talk on our show on International Women's Day. So I would just talk to him about a bunch of reproductive health issues and politics, and probably just have a great dinner, share a bottle of wine, and catch up as friends if he would be my friend.
ERIC: Well, in your email to me, you also specifically mentioned his tweets. Is there something specific about the way that he uses Twitter that really clicks with you?
TJ: Yeah, he has a little bit of of a troll-y sense to him, not where he's actually trolling people, but he kind of has a wink and a nod to him, in what he will tweet. Here's one tweet that he sent the other day that I just find funny and it's politically related. I don't know the political makeup of your audience, but it was in regards to the senate hearings for judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
And Dan tweets, "Did Cory Booker fail Kentanji Brown Jackson by not slapping the s**t out of Ted Cruz?" And then he replies, "Or did he fail us all?" So he's just sort of a little bit tongue in cheek. I find him funny, but also insightful when he tries to actually be serious. So that's one of the reasons I really enjoy his tweets.
I'm a bit of a news junkie myself being a journalist, and so I'm constantly on Twitter looking at the political commentary from all various aspects and following the news in Washington and in New York where I live, very closely. And it's nice to be able to break and have a chuckle when the news is so grim all the time, so that's one of the reasons I also like to follow him on Twitter specifically.
ERIC: Well that was Dan Savage, who is on Instagram and Facebook @DanSavage and on Twitter @fakedansavage.