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Culture Vulture: Inviting Savage to see the real Utah

Published November 17, 2008 6:00 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Here's something I, a heterosexual male, don't do often: Ask a gay man out for drinks.

But Dan Savage and I have a lot in common.

We're both from Seattle. We're both family men. My wife likes Savage's writing -- such as his syndicated sex-advice column "Savage Love" -- as much as my stuff. And we were born two days apart.

Also, we both abhor what happened two weeks ago when California voters approved Proposition 8, writing discrimination -- in the form of a ban on same-sex marriage -- into that state's constitution.

Where we disagree is on what to do about it.

Savage, from his perch as editorial director of Seattle's alternative weekly The Stranger, recently backed a boycott of all things Utah. This boycott, launched by activist John Aravosis on his AmericaBlog, is in reaction to the support members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave to pass Prop. 8 -- estimated at between $15 million and $20 million of the "Yes on 8's" $40 million campaign.

Savage wrote this on The Stranger's blog: "Since all Mormons-in-good-standing must tithe 10% of their earnings to their church, some part of any dollar you spend in a Mormon-owned business -- and they're almost all Mormon-owned businesses in Utah -- flows toward an anti-gay church that wages anti-gay political campaigns. Ski Colorado, Washington state, and British Columbia. Don't ski Utah."

John Saltas, president of Utah's City Weekly was offended by Savage's blanket condemnation of Utahns. "A Utah boycott hurts the very people Savage claims to speak for," Saltas wrote in his column last week. And to protest Savage's boycott call, Saltas pulled "Savage Love" from the newspaper's web site -- a move that was lambasted around the Internet, and again made Utahns look like narrow-minded prudes.

As a transplanted Utahn, I also don't like that Savage and others have singled out Utah for their wrath over Prop. 8's passage. But I'd rather engage Savage in this discussion, which is why I want to invite him to Utah. (Savage would have to pay his own way -- I'm just an underpaid columnist, while he's a best-selling author.)

I'd show Savage the spot across from Temple Square where 3,000 Utahns marched peacefully in protest of Prop. 8.

I'd drive him up to Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival, which has been a launchpad for so many landmark LGBT movies -- "Longtime Companion," "Go Fish," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and others.

I'd introduce him to Utahns who are as committed to equal rights as he is.

I'd even buy drinks at the Trapp for Savage and Saltas, to let the healing begin.

Sean P. Means writes the Culture Vulture in daily blog form at blogs.sltrib.com/vulture.