Dan Savage and I were meant to be together. Forget that he’s a gay man and that I’m a lesbian. Forget that he’s got a serious boyfriend and that they have a child together. So what if he lives in Seattle and I live in Chicago? What really matters is that we’re soul mates – two writers who’ve overcome their awkward youths with witty sarcasm and who make up for any adolescent antics with an awesome mix of urban hip-ness and expertise in the area of human sexuality.
Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. I have had a serious thing for Dan Savage for years now. I first discovered his syndicated column Savage Love in a small independent newspaper I was reading on the bus one sunny afternoon during my freshman year of college. That edgy independent paper gave me a little bit of the honest underground media I so missed after moving from my native Chicago to a cultural wasteland in a large Southern state which shall remain nameless.
After experiencing life in said cultural wasteland, I began to look around and see things in a different light. I suddenly have an ulterior motive. I’ll be the first to admit that even what I’m writing here was inspired by my ulterior motive, but don’t jump to conclusions. I’m not trying to get you into bed, girls, I’m just trying to get you into your local polling place.
Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America is not your average political book. Right there on the first page of the introduction Savage mentions conservative William J. Bennett’s ass. In fact, Savage has a lot to say to right-wingers like Dr. Laura, Pat Buchanan, and Robert Bork (author of Slouching Towards Gomorrah) and what actually comes out of his mouth might surprise you.
Savage travels the country and commits each of the seven deadly sins himself (well, all but one) to see what all the fuss is about. Categorized as “part travelogue, part memoir, part Bork-and-Bennett bitch slap” by Savage himself, this unapologetic, funny, and revealing book makes quite the case for each of the sins.
Lust is probably my favorite deadly sin. Sadly, though, Savage’s boyfriend put his foot down and lust was the only sin that Savage had to observe rather than indulge in. Interestingly enough, he chose to observe swingers. Now, I’m sure that many of us have had similar experiences with swingers, and that those experiences all went a little something like this: you meet a great girl. She’s just what you’re looking for and, to top it off, the two of you have chemistry. You make a move but before things progress, she just wants to ask you one little thing. It’s nothing really, just a minor detail, but she has a boyfriend/husband. Can he join in? You will not have to really do anything to/with him, really. It’s a classic setup and, frankly, one that makes me openly hostile. Will they ever learn that swingers don’t belong in gay bars, they belong in swingers clubs? Isn’t it obvious that the only penises dykes want in the room when they’re having sex are the kind vibrate or fit into a harness?
Clearly, I did not have much of an appreciation for swingers before I read this book. Savage explains their culture and habits in his chapter Lust: The Erotic Rites of David and Bridget and urges the social conservatives to take a look at what else is “destroying” the sanctity of marriage and leave us homos alone. As is turns out, the couple that Savage meets at a swinger’s convention in Las Vegas is just a friendly Jewish couple from none other than Buffalo Grove, IL. He later visits them at home, meets their children, loathes their lawn and their SUV, and discovers that they are one of the healthiest couples he has ever met. They are honest with each other and communicate openly. They don’t lie about the fact that they are attracted to other people. As is turns out, they are just doing what liberal and conservative alike agree is natural (and, take note all of you wanna-be swingers, they’re doing it the right way).
Skipping Towards Gomorrah isn’t all orgies and minivans; Savage travels to dingy Midwest towns in Greed: The Thrill of Losing Money, he attends a pro-fat conference in the chapter on gluttony which exposes, frankly, more than I ever wanted to know about feeder/eater couples. The chapter Pride: Jake and Kevin and the Queen of Sin takes an interesting look at Gay Pride Parades and pokes fun at the common justification “I’m doing this for the kids.” Everything we’ve all secretly thought about guns but never wanted to say out loud is in Anger: My Piece, My Unit. And of course, what political book would be complete without a chapter called Sloth: I Am Not a Pothead and a long detailed story of an expensive luxury health spa where the lack of fabric softener does horrible things to ones genitalia.
A quick, funny, eye-opening book, Skipping Towards Gomorrah is a must read for liberal and conservative alike. Full of current media references and facts about the way our species developed, it’s a great reminder that we, as Americans, deserve the right to decide for ourselves what makes us happy. I hope the evidence that many politicians think otherwise that’s printed in this book is motivation enough for you to get out there and vote, for whomever you feel is the best person for the job, but honey, if it isn’t, you best email me because we’ve got some serious talking to do. I promise that, as with all political conversations, sin will be one of the hot topics.
Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America by Dan Savage was first published in October 2002 by Plume. The book is 300 pages long.
Buy the book on ChicagoPride.com.