Monday, December 25, 2006
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The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
by Dan Savage, 2005, hardback
You should know
Don't forget, Savage is a sex columnist, so not all the links in this review will be safe for work.
I’ve already reviewed Savage’s book Skipping Towards Gomorrah. As I mentioned there, I am a longtime reader of Savage’s column. Also, since then, I have read portions of Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
In this book, Savage tells the story of his family – both his roots, and his current household. Savage comes from a long line of large Irish-Catholic families, but his extended family is made up of a sampling of various types of families, from his parents’ later-in-life remarriages to his siblings’ marriages (or refusals thereof) to his own relationship with his boyfriend, Terry, and their son. In fact, Savage points out, his family is the most “traditional” one in the current Savage clan, despite the fact that it’s also the only one that’s not headed by heterosexuals.
In fact, this is the reason that Dan’s Irish-Catholic mother wants him and his boyfriend to get married – never mind that it’s illegal in Seattle, where the couple lives. Dan’s Republican father approves of the idea. Terry’s brother, a born-again Christian, is never quoted as objecting. Dan and Terry themselves have their doubts (Terry doesn’t want to “act straight”; Dan doesn’t want to jinx a good relationship), but the strongest objection comes from Dan and Terry’s son, DJ. DJ, at the age of 6, is just getting used to the whole concept of gender roles, and to him, boys can’t, shouldn’t, and shouldn’t want to get married – so if his dads decide to do it, he won’t go.
Savage outlines the history and culture of marriage, weddings, and divorce, and how the LGBT community in general, and how his family in particular, fits into all that. They make up their minds, and change their minds, more than once.
Now, remember that Savage’s politics skew to the liberal and Libertarian. The book talks about politics, society, family, and morals and ethics, so if you find that point of view offensive and don’t feel like getting pissed off, you might want to avoid it. But I would highly recommend it otherwise, especially if you have any reason to ponder all the traditions and rituals surrounding weddings and marriages.
The rest of the Internet
Beware: There may be spoilers ahead.
A podcast interview with Savage about the book.
Another interview, this one on Morning Edition.
A review of the book at In Which Our Hero.
Matt Zakosek at the Chicago Maroon tells the story of an interview with Savage.
An essay on the book in the Seattle Times.
Savage brags about the great time he had at his interview on The Colbert Report (Part 1, Part 2)