Ask Dan Savage Anything: The Birds And The Bees

Apparently being a sex advice columnist doesn’t make The Sex Talk with your kid any easier:

A few years ago, Dan podcasted a conversation with Amy Lang on how parents should talk to their kids about sex. In a recent WSJ Q&A, Dan explained another big talk, only this time one that DJ had to have with him and Terry:

[Q.] In “American Savage,” you talk about the heartbreak you and your husband, Terry Miller, felt when your son felt like he had to “come out” as straight to you. When you adopted DJ in 1998, did it ever occur to you that something like this would happen?

[A.] We weren’t heartbroken that he came out to us as straight — we’re not upset that he’s straight. Far from it. And we saw it coming a mile away. My mother, after she calmed down about me being gay, admitted that she kind of always knew. We kind of always knew that DJ was straight. What was heartbreaking was the realization that he was worried we might not react well to the news. We felt like we had gone out of our way to emphasize that he would most likely be straight, because well over 90% of everybody is, and that we loved him gay, straight, bi, whatever. But he was worried and that was heartbreaking for me. For us.

We had a few conversations when he was younger — prepuberty — during which he insisted that he would be gay. When he was nine he told us that he didn’t like girls and so, you know, case closed: going to be gay when he grows up. We told him that we loved girls when we were nine. Not liking girls when you’re a little boy is almost always evidence of straightness-to-come, not gayness. He doubled down and insisted he would be gay. Maybe that’s the reason he was hesitant — he’s pretty stubborn (wonder where he gets that?), and he basically had to admit that he was wrong.

Dan’s new book, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politicscame out a few weeks ago. My recent conversation with him at the New York Public Library is here. Dan’s previous answers are here. Our full Ask Anything archive is here.