Private Eye | Collateral Damage: Don't devalue your friends, Dan. | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Private Eye | Collateral Damage: Don't devalue your friends, Dan. 

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I wonder what to make of some online comments lately that question my decision to cut the umbilical cord/link between Savage Love columnist Dan Savage and the City Weekly Website (the column has never run in the paper).

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Savage recently had called for a boycott of not only all things LDS, Mormon and Utah, but seemingly all things starting with the letter U. As a Utah native, I found no reason to pay a guy who was urging others not to spend their money here. Quid pro quo, as Bush the Elder used to say. And what happens next? A blogger calls me a bigot. Sheez. Another calls me an enabler. Because by living in Utah, I enable the LDS Church to exist, I guess. A censoring (nobody called me that when we dropped the comic strip Zippy) enabler at that. Ouch.

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A recap: Two weeks ago, Californians voted against Proposition 8, effectively negating thousands of gay marriages previously performed there and forbidding additional ones. People who previously had not paid attention, figuring Prop 8’s defeat was a slam-dunk, finally woke up. Since the LDS Church famously played a role in advocating its members rally with financial or volunteer resources to help pass Prop 8 and save the republic, a gay-led boycott of the LDS Church (How do you boycott a church? By not joining?) and Mormon-owned businesses followed. That quickly morphed into a boycott of Utah.

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Among those most stridently calling for a Utah boycott was gay columnist, author and activist Dan Savage. Not only can I no longer pick up a dime from the sidewalk, I’m so old I’ve forgotten who the major national spokespeople for the GLBT community are. Not counting Ellen or Rosie, that is. However, I still have my eyesight, and I see Savage all the time on television advocating for gay equality. I figure he’s as influential as they come on matters of gay rights. I happen to agree with him most of the time and have often wondered how it is he got all the wit and charm, and I got all the cholesterol. I’ve also known him for a dozen years, though I wouldn’t call it close. I’m not on his speed dial.

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So I can’t be surprised that he didn’t contact me to say that he was about to piss all over City Weekly and our Utah friends, inside and out of the gay community, inside and out of the LDS Church, inside and out of the straight community. No, it appeared to me that when Savage grandly announced “Utah is the new Coors. Pass it on ... ” and called for a Utah boycott (for the unwashed, Coors, affiliated with far-right political groups and with nonfriendly gay policies, was on the wrong end of a similar boycott in the last decade that is credited with costing the state of Colorado millions of dollars), he was pretty much thinking like all young chiefs do: What’s in it for Savage?

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Not to mention he’s been—factual errors and misleading innuendo aside—a teeny bit over the top with his rhetoric. When Savage adorned his repartee with his endearing style of angry grade-school taunts like “Fuck you, Utah!” urging others to follow suit, it was “Game on.” We cherish all of our allies, as this is a harsh area to do what we do. We have allies where some would never suspect. I don’t want harm cast on them in any manner. Not so in Seattle where they not only jettison NBA sports franchises, they jettison alliances and friendships as well. A commenter on Slog, the blog at the Seattle Stranger, calls us Utahns—gay Utahns specifically—collateral damage. Cute, Rumsfeld ... pass it on.

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I suspect Savage hasn’t been to Utah since we first met. Insider baseball: Following a gay caucus at the 1996 convention of alternative newsweeklies here in Salt Lake at which local gay leaders spoke to persons who had called for a Utah boycott due to the Salt Lake City school board rejecting the gay/straight alliance at East High School, I asked Savage what he thought of Utah. He said, “I hate fucking Utah.” I asked him why, and he replied, “Your gay bars are way better than Seattle’s.” Hating and boycotting Utah isn’t new to Savage who needs some new verbs and a more effective call to action. Last week, he was off to ski in Colorado. Now, he’s changed his mind—maybe because it’s been pointed out that James Dobson of Focus on the Family might share a ski lift with him—and is apparently heading to Whistler, British Columbia. Nice, but that’s like boycotting tofu by eating edamame.

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Meanwhile, over at The Salt Lake Tribune, Culture Vulture columnist Sean Means got his own nose bloodied when he politely invited Savage to visit Utah. Savage wasn’t amused. But Savage at least seems to no longer have just all Mormons or Utahns in his cross hairs. Well, then, we’ll sweeten the pie. Means works for a daily and says he can’t pay to get Savage here. We can.

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We’ll pay for the flights, three, I think. Not JetBlue, though, eh, boycotters? That money could trickle up to you know where! We’ll get the ski passes. We’ll get the hotel. What, two nights? Three? Not Marriott! Is Kimpton OK? After that, Savage is on his own, but we’ll point him to gay clubs and gay-owned eateries and retailers. He can leave without spending a dime with the Utahns he hates. We’ll introduce him to local GLBT leaders, many of whom are equally pissed that he walked away from them. We can go to the Trapp to compare scars. The Seattle blogger was wrong. Collateral damage occurs when you devalue your friends.

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