UCI welcomed sex columnist Dan Savage for a taping of his new MTV television series, “Savage U,” on Wednesday, Nov. 9 in the Student Center’s Crystal Cove Auditorium.
Savage is currently working on a new show where he travels to college campuses across the country and holds Q-and-A sessions about sex and relationships. Before the taping, students are asked to anonymously submit any questions that they have about these subjects, and are told that “no topics are taboo.”
When the time of the taping arrives, Savage answers these previously submitted questions and also accepts live questions from the audience.
UC Irvine was just one of the many campuses Savage chose to include in his college Q-and-A tour.
Savage entered the stage on Wednesday night and assumed position behind the podium.
“I work in a question-and-answer format almost exclusively, which means that I arrive with no prepared remarks,” Savage said. “So I have no agenda — however filthy or inappropriate it gets tonight, you all have no one to blame but yourselves.”
With that, Savage began to answer a variety of questions, ranging from inquiries of how to cope and move on from an ex, to how to help a parent understand and accept their child’s sexual orientation.
After a series of questions, Savage came across one that regarded issues in the transgender community. Once he finished giving his answer, three individuals from the audience ran down the aisle and jumped on the stage with handfuls of pink glitter. They threw the glitter all over Dan Savage, ran off the stage and fled out of the nearest door. The individuals were immediately chased by two UCI policemen stationed at the event.
One person involved in this act was arrested on the charge of “Assault on Person.” The other two people are still under investigation and detectives are currently working on the case.
The cameras stopped taping at this moment, and a brief intermission took place. Savage and other personnel went outside to talk until they returned a few minutes later and explained what happened.
Savage said that he had just been “glitter-bombed,” which is a form of protest used against people who are thought to be homophobic or transphobic.
“There are some people who believe that I am transphobic,” Savage said. “However, that is not true.”
People may have thought that Savage held prejudices against the transgender community based on his past usage of the word “shemale,” which was printed in his column “Savage Love” that ran on March 25, 2009. Savage’s word choice generated criticism from transgender rights activists, causing groups to believe that Savage was not a supporter of this group of people.
However, Savage has spoken against these criticisms by saying that he is not transphobic, especially since he is openly gay and understands the plights and discriminations these types of groups face.
Even though Dan Savage was not directly available to comment on the glitter-bomb incident, he has defended himself in the past to claims that he is transphobic by saying that his view of the transgender community has changed through the years.
“How do you disprove a charge like you’re transphobic? I’m not afraid of trans people,” said Savage in previous interviews.
“I certainly have had a journey in the past 20 years — as have we all — on trans issues. When I started writing ‘Savage Love’ 20 years ago, and you can yank quotes 15, 18 years ago and flat them up today and say, ‘You know, that’s transphobic,’ I’d probably agree with you. [Fifteen] years ago, I didn’t know as much as I do now — nor did anybody.”
After this brief interruption and explanation from Savage, the taping resumed and Savage continued to answer questions.
One question submitted by a student asked, “Does racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia end after high school? For those kids who still experience these after high school, does the ‘It Gets Better Project’ not apply? What about LGBT adults who commit suicide?”
Savage responded by saying that the “It Gets Better Project,” which was initially started by Savage himself, was not a promise that one day homophobia would be eliminated forever.
“It gets better — it doesn’t get perfect,” Savage said. “What does get better is you have more agency of control. You’re not condemned to the same middle school or high school environment … you can change your circumstances as an adult.”
The rest of the event featured more questions that revolved around this nature and eventually concluded with a few live questions from the audience.