I first heard Dan Savage on This American Life, telling the story of his son announcing that marriage was for GIRLS and BOYS, not for BOYS and BOYS. He informed his dads that he did not, under any circumstances, want them to get married. He was glad that they were his dads, and glad that they loved each other, and that they loved him, but he was definitely not down with BOYS marrying BOYS. This is especially hilarious because Dan Savage is a major gay rights activist. He writes for the advice column for the Seattle Newspaper The Stranger. His column, “Savage Love,” is certainly not for the faint of heart, and I’m almost positive that there is nothing that Dan Savage could be asked that would throw him off his game. He’s open, honest, and frank with his readers, and that sort of straight-forwardness is really refreshing. Anyway, this isn’t about his column, it’s about his book, The Commitment.
In the pages of this book, Dan Savage pours his heart out about his own relationship with his longtime partner Terry and their son DJ. What begins as an innocent look at the state of marriage in the early 2000s (the book was published in 2005), quickly becomes the story of how Dan went from being staunchly opposed to marrying Terry to desperately wanting to do just that. The book is part political polemic, part anthropological study, part deeply personal memoir. On the heels of George W. Bush’s reelection, Dan discusses his own fears, struggles, and concerns as a gay parent of an adopted son. He opens the door into the life of an American family that isn’t always credited as such. It’s a really moving (not to mention hilarious) story of two dads and their son trying to figure their way through the world together.
In the end, if you couldn’t have guessed, Terry and Dan get married. They marry in Canada, then have their families and friends to a party in Seattle where they celebrate together. Also, DJ’s cool with it in the end. Interestingly, just before I started reading this book, I read a column by Dan Savage that he wrote just after the first of the year this year, when he and Terry were legally granted a marriage license by the state of Washington, which felt like a really nice bookend to their story.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a study of modern marriage, an entertaining memoir, or to someone who needed convincing that marriage isn’t just for BOYS and GIRLS. It’s 2013, people. Let’s get with the program.
22. The Commitment by Dan Savage