Dan Savage with the secret on how to handle your parents (video)

This nearly 4 minute video is of advice-columnist Dan Savage offering tips on how to come out to your parents, but really it could be tips on dealing with your parents generally.

The dynamic Dan describes could be any troublesome parent-child relationship, not just a gay-straight one, and not just a coming out one. Tell me this rule only applies to coming out: “That tantrum your parents are throwing will not stop if you allow it to work.”


Dan Savage

It’s a short video, and a good one.  I do find it funny that the video starts with a parental warning that the content is explicit It’s not explicit at all.  It’s just good advice.

Dan has a new book out, by the way, and we’ll be doing a chat or a Google Hangout with him soon (we haven’t decided which), so stay tuned for info on that. You can find Dan’s new book, “American Savage,” here:



And here’s Dan:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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17 Responses to “Dan Savage with the secret on how to handle your parents (video)”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    Makes me think of the nice film, Mambo Italiano, from Canada!

  2. karmanot says:

    Dan Savage is a hero!

  3. Butch1 says:

    Considering that was the year Homosexuality was taken off the books as a “disease” that is quite incredible. Good for you; you had an up hill battle and not much data supporting you at the time like we do today.

  4. Gustav2 says:

    I used this approach in 1974. It worked with my parents but not my siblings.

  5. Yep, he’s just a great speaker

  6. Butch1 says:

    He’s good and takes the common sense approach.

  7. Excellent advice. There is no violence like family violence. I like the Teletubbies system of engaging life. Only two choices: Big Hug – or – Run away! Run away!

  8. It is like a tongue in cheek joke about the “basic unacceptability” of the gay topic in general, I think. I always read DanS’s column in the City Paper. His advice is always clear and effective and honest. I hope he transitions a bit from tough guy in your face. He is tough and he is so much more than that.

  9. Ok well let me see. I just really like Dan, and he’s so interesting to hear talk, that I hate to waste that in writing. But let me see.

  10. ComradeRutherford says:

    Another reason I like the chat thread is that it’s right here on the site for review at any time. I usually don’t get to participate in the chat session, and enjoy reading the ‘transcript’.
    I know Google dangles nice shiny things in front of us all the time, but…
    Thanks for hearing my input, John.

  11. He’s right on. I did this with my parents and they were fine. I ignored my italian mom’s tantrums. She went to PFLAG eventually and now she’s a huge gay advocate.

  12. caphillprof says:

    All of Dan Savage’s video clips start out with the warning regardless of what the video actually contains.

  13. Well we’ll have to see. Google Hangouts are awfully nice. Especially because they permit video, which is far more interesting than just typing.

  14. Sweetie says:

    My opinion is that it’s the parent’s responsibility to be parental. If they can’t be, then there are a lot of other people in the world who deserve one’s time. If they are having difficulty processing the issue and are making attempts to learn, then tolerating their ignorance temporarily can be OK.

  15. BeccaM says:

    Not bad advice. I’m not sure what else might’ve been edited out of that particular discussion, but there are a few more things I’d add:

    – Sometimes the “I’m outta here” will need to last for many years before the parent mellows to the point where their anger and disappointment is less than their desire to resume regular contact. If this is the case, checking in now and then isn’t a bad idea, but don’t have unrealistic expectations as to how much they’ve changed their attitudes from month to month or even year to year. But they often will change, and for the better. My wife’s family is just one such case in point. They not only universally accept her now, they even accept me as her wife. Actually, more than accept — they insist I am a member of their extended family now.

    – While your parent is in the tantrum phase, you are not obligated to allow them to heap the abuse on you. Rude or insensitive questions, discomfort with other family members knowing, not wanting to hear about your love live — this is one thing. It’s something else entirely if they want have you listen to them tell you that you’re going to burn in Hell for what you’re doing. That because you’re gay, you’re somehow an unfit parent yourself and a danger to your own children. That if they’d known you were going to grow up to be this way, they would have opted for an abortion or tried to beat the gay out of you. That they wish you’d chosen suicide over coming out. And so on. That’s when you say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. You’re my Mom (or Dad), and I love you. But I’m not going to sit here and listen to you say all these intentionally hurtful things. I hope we can talk again when you’ve calmed down. Goodbye.” Then leave or hang up the phone.

    – There’s a difference between a tantrum and a life-threatening flip-out. In the former, you will often have time to extricate yourself from the situation, even if you happen to be living with your parent. It may not be pleasant, but you’re in no particular physical danger — just psychological, and temporarily at that. In the latter instance, where a parent doesn’t just have a tantrum, but announces plans to physically harm you or those close to you (including friends or lover), you need to have an exit plan already in place and you need to get yourself out of there. Do not spend even a single night under the roof of someone who says it would be better if you were dead than gay. Especially if they have firearms in the house and/or a history of alcoholism. Go stay at a hotel or with a friend, sleep in your car, whatever. Just don’t stick around if there’s any hint you might be in actual physical danger.

    – If your relationship with your parents is in a very bad way because you came out to them as gay, and you are in a committed relationship with someone, you must must MUST have legal paperwork drawn up to protect your rights and those of your spouse or partner. This includes medical directives, power of attorney, and (as we’ve learned recently) assignment of guardianship in the case of incapacitation. The amount of paperwork you will need varies from state to state, depending on whether there is marriage equality or not and if so, how close to a real civil marriage it actually is, in the eyes of the law. There have been entirely too many stories of people whose parents are firmly in the tantrum phase who, upon their child becoming disabled for any reason, swoop in, cut out the spouse, and take everything. Don’t let this be you. Get that paperwork.

    I would suggest that anybody who is estranged from their parents, for any reason and even if it’s temporary, should do this, because few are more vindictive and nasty than those who are still having that tantrum. For instance, they might decide that because it’s so awful to be gay, it’s best not to resuscitate — even though you would prefer otherwise. Never give life-and-death decision authority to someone who is angry with you and hates who you are.

  16. ComradeRutherford says:

    “we’ll be doing a chat or a Google Hangout”

    Please stick with the chats so us Liberals that boycott the evil Google can participate.

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