By: Scott RossPublished: October 7, 2022

Dan Savage

Happy birthday to one of Gen X's spiciest coiners of neologisms, Daniel Keenan Savage, who was born October 7, 1964.

Born and raised in Chicago, Savage grew up Catholic, got a BFA in acting from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked in a video store. In 2001, his friend Tim Keck, who had co-founded The Onion, announced he was off to Seattle to launch an alt weekly called The Stranger. One thing led to another and suddenly Savage was heading out west to start an advice column for the paper called "Savage Love," which he writes to this day.

Though long well-established among the cool kids, Savage didn't really break into the national mainstream until 2003, when he asked his readers to come up with a definition for the word "santorum," a campaign inspired by conservative US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who in speaking out against gay marriage had lumped homosexual couples in with pederasts and dog-fuckers:

"[i]n every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

The winning entry was "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." More frustrating still for Santorum was Savage's website for promoting the new word, santorum.com, the URL for which the senator had somehow not secured.

It was also Savage who spearheaded in 2001 the movement to name the act of penetrative anal sex in which a woman has a go at a man as "pegging."

Really, Savage's gifts to the discourse have been priceless.


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