Dan Savage and Jane Lynch

By Bennett, Jessica | Newsweek, January 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

Dan Savage and Jane Lynch


Bennett, Jessica, Newsweek


Byline: Jessica Bennett

He created the 'It Gets Better' video campaign. She stars in 'glee,' the gayest show in the history of network TV. So we thought: who better to ask about the gay lay of the land?

It's been a big year in gay rights: marriage, "don't ask, don't tell," bullying. Are you surprised there are still so many battles?

Lynch: Yes, we thought the great hope of Obama was going to magically change all that, and it doesn't seem to have--

Savage: --had the intended effect.

Lynch: He's just nicely walking the middle.

Savage: And unfortunately, when you split the difference on gay and lesbian people, what you wind up with is no legislative progress. You get a lot of nice speeches, you get invited to cocktail parties, and we have s--t to show for it.

Which barrier will fall first?

Lynch: Oh, God, I have no idea. "Don't ask, don't tell" looks like it's not going to happen, and John McCain wants 13 more hearings because he's not sure yet. [Editor's note: the Senate had not scheduled a vote on DADT when this interview was conducted.]

Savage: F--k John McCain--put that in NEWSWEEK.

Lynch: Yeah, I say it too, to the second power.

Savage: Really, when it comes to gay rights, there's two wars going on. The first war is political. But the culture war is over. Between Glee and Ellen and how integrated and accepted LGBT adults are, that's done. So it's very frustrating to be steeped in how culturally accepted we are and know that there's all these legislative things that we just can't seem to make any progress on.

How long until there's an openly gay president or Supreme Court justice?

Savage: Scalia isn't gay?!? I always think the biggest homophobe in the room is clearly a c--ksucker!

Lynch: Totally! The next religious person who tells you there's something wrong with being a homosexual, start the countdown. It's psychology 101--the people who are the loudest and hate it the most hate something in themselves.

Dan, what inspired the "It Gets Better" campaign?

Savage: It started after I read about Billy Lucas's suicide in Greensburg, Ind., and after Justin Aaberg's suicide in Minnesota last summer. I was just stewing and writing about them on my blog, and wishing I could have talked to these kids, to tell them it gets better. But I would never get permission to talk to these kids, because in places like Greensburg--where kids are bullied not just by peers but by parents and religious leaders--kids would never get permission to hear from an openly gay adult. And it just occurred to me that I was waiting for permission that in the YouTube era I didn't need anymore.

One thing that struck me about the "It Gets Better" videos is how many straight people are willing to tell gay people it's going to be OK.

Savage: When the first couple hundred videos came in and there were some from straight people, I got some angry emails saying, "No, take them down, this isn't about straight people talking to gay people." But that's one of the ways it gets better. When you're young and queer and closeted, you can end up in this place where you regard your straight peers as the enemy.

Lynch: As a gay person, I don't want to be separate from the rest of the world. I remember I went to a lesbian event when I first moved here to Los Angeles, and this woman said to me, "Oh, it's just for us." I didn't like that at all. I want to be in the human community. I don't want to be separate.

Savage: And we can't avoid it. Straight people are everywhere!

Jane, when did you come out?

Lynch: I had two coming outs. I came out when I was about 21, and then I came out to my family when I was 32. By the time I was 32 they were like, "Well, we knew there was something. We're glad to know what it is, now let's move on." Had I told them when I was 18 it would have been a different story, because there was nobody openly homosexual. …

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