Life editor Erica Plumlee sits down with Rosie Curts, senior, to discuss bringing sex journalist and comedian Dan Savage to Colorado College.
Q: How did you get Dan Savage to come to CC?
A: Through lots and lots of e-mails. Seeing Dan Savage live was something I’d imagined, and then I suddenly realized that if it was going to happen, college would be an ideal place, and that I could play an active role in it. I was able to get in touch with Beth Kancilia, the LGBTQ Student Specialist, to be kind of an adviser, and I learned about the Cultural Attractions Fund from Marley Hamrick (’12) who used it to organize Joshua Bennett’s event last year. Mostly, the key was not giving up when logistics looked challenging.
Q: What was your role in the event?
A: I guess you could say I was the overall event organizer, although of course I don’t want to take all the credit, considering how much work Beth, Connie Dudgeon, Rosie Nelson, and others did. I wrote all the funding applications that we submitted and I worked directly with Savage’s agency. Beth, Rosie Nelson, and I did a lot of the meetings and logistics work together, such as booking rooms, security, tech work, reception planning, advertising plans, etc. I was also Dan’s escort on the night of the event, which felt so special and exciting that it hardly seemed like part of the job.
Q: Why did you want him to come to CC?
A: I’ve been reading Dan Savage’s columns since I was about thirteen years old, and he is one of the main influences on my ideas about sexuality and equality. I felt like everyone at CC could benefit from hearing what he had to say. I find his advice not only funny and raunchy, but honestly really good, sound, and practical. CC kids express interest in sexuality in general, with jokes and comments standard for our age, discussion of the “hook-up culture”, or arguments for LGBTQ rights. However, I’ve also realized that CC students of all genders and sexualities are a lot more uncomfortable with frank discussion of sexuality than I think we’d like to admit. I knew that if anyone could pull people out of their shells with explicit discussion of the pros and cons of sexuality and relationships, it would be Dan Savage.
Q: How did you expect/hope CC to respond?
A: Obviously, I hoped everyone would enjoy it, laugh, and actually learn something from it. As it got closer, people started to research Savage on their own and many were talking about the various transgressions he had pulled in the past. He’s been accused of transphobia, biphobia, sexism, racism, victim-blaming, etc. So I was a little nervous that people would go in looking to find something to hate about him, and some of the questions he answered definitely seemed to be from people trying to corner him. However, I think he dealt with those beautifully. Overall, the response was really great, and everyone that I have talked to really enjoyed it.
Q: What did you think of the Q&A format?
A: It was hilarious. Some of it was stuff I’ve heard before, because I know sometimes he gets the same types of questions. I wish we’d had time for more of the questions; I know neither of the questions I submitted were answered! But I think most everything he said was really valuable. I really liked the message I took away from it about the importance of communication in relationships. Savage has this amazing ability to smoothly transition between humorous and serious in accordance with the tone of the question, and his answers are always so sincere and honest.
Q: Did you get to meet Dan? What is he like?
A: Yes! I can’t imagine planning this whole thing and not reaping the benefit of getting to meet one of my heroes! I met Dan when Natalie Dupille and I picked him up from his hotel, and I spent time with him backstage and at the private reception for contributors after the event. I was actually a little nervous that, like many celebrities, he might be egotistical or stand-offish. But he was totally nice, considerate, and interesting. He was very relaxed and friendly and just comfortable to be around.
Q: Do you have any other events or speakers planned?
A: I will hopefully be working more on the Queer Speaker Series, but we don’t have our next speaker in mind yet. Because I started in on this project as a kind of a freelancer, however, I’m not restricting myself to the Queer Speaker Series. Right now, I think I’d like my next project to include bringing Rinku Sen, the President and Executive Director of the Applied Research Center and publisher of Colorlines.com, an online news magazine about racial justice and its intersectionality with other social justice issues.