Review: Skipping Towards Gomorrah

Skipping Towards GomorrahSkipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My fellow liberals: remember the Bush years? We were at the mercy of the “Moral Majority,” the theocracy seemed inevitable, our LGBT friends (or selves) were criminals, and everywhere you looked, another blonde Republican lady author was scrawling a book that we were traitors or monsters or traitor-monsters. It was a dark time. Dan Savage wrote a book lashing out at the perceived “immorality” of the times. “All things in moderation,” he writes, “even moderation itself.”

And although I’m writing this review during the odious rise of Donald Trump and all that this entails about a certain percentage of the electorate, it really has gotten a lot better. Gay marriage is the law of the land (although like abortion rights, it’s under assault and will be for a long while), DOMA is dead, and the “Moral Majority” as a political entity to supporting an obvious lizard-person in a human skin suit (Cruz) or a blatant opportunist who so obviously doesn’t give a shit about that “moral majority’s morals” so long as they vote for him. It’s been a long, hard fall from the Evangelical’s pinnacle of power in the early 00’s. We have an African American president now. We (hopefully) will see the first female president. Pot is legal in a few states, including mine! Concern about climate change has gone from being a punchline on South Park to a real thing that many reasonable people are seriously concerned about. In short, it’s a different era.

But it’s good to remember what it was like, not too long ago. “Skipping Towards Gomorrah” isn’t timeless; it’s rooted deeply in the political landscape that was the Bush years. But that’s precisely one of the things that makes it so compellingly readable today. It’s a chance to remember what it was like before. It’s a chance to compare what we railed against then to what we rail against now. And while we’re certainly not living in liberal utopia (and might soon take a hard right turn to dystopia, if we’re not careful) . . . it has gotten better.

Aside from the trip down memory lane, Savage’s writing style is crisp and wonderfully funny. He writes with clarity and self-awareness (but not self-consciousness). It’s unlikely that you’ll read this book if you’re not already drinking deeply of our liberal gay hippie kool-aid (it’s organic and locally sourced, yo) but Savage will surprise you. He doesn’t always do what you’ll expect for a sex columnist who is also a gay man. Look for the chapters on wrath (guns) and pride (gay pride) to see what I mean.

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Animals Boning Each Other And What That Says About God’s Will

You should be aware that this post is largely about hardcore snake-on-snake action. If that offends your sensibilities, you may wish to read something else. Ye be warned.

“It’s against God’s will! It’s unnatural! It goes against the natural order of things!”

Ah, the clarion call of the religious argument against homosexuality. Rarely has there been a more succinct and more thoroughly reasoned argument made against an entire group of people than this; the fact that it’s also the same argument that was made against interracial marriage, for example, is something we aren’t supposed to think about.

But is it really unnatural? Is it even a good idea to live our lives according to what is natural? I’m not so sure. We have to assume that animals incapable of thought that obey their God-given instincts are acting perfectly natural, right? It’s only we thinking humans that are capable of perverting the natural order with our perverse perversions.

But if that’s the case, consider this:

When North American garter snakes mate, both sexes emit pheromones that enable other snakes to smell whether they are males or females to help them home in on a partner. But the coolest snakes, so to speak, are the warmest males – these always win the females. Up to 25 randy males may cluster around a single female, forming an orgiastic ball of writhing, copulating snakes.

Sometimes male garter snakes will emit female-like pheromones to fool other males into an attempt to mate with the ‘she-male’ snakes; scientists think this behavior tactic is designed to help them get warm quickly after their winter hibernation. The warmed-up ‘she-males’ then have a more successful time mating with the female snakes than their decidedly cooler competition.

In order to test this hypothesis, a team led by Dr. Rich Shine from the University of Sydney fixed miniature thermal data loggers to snakes to accurately measure their heat transfers, and also used dead snakes as courtship targets. They proved their point and published the result in Nature magazine. And yes, some randy snakes did try to mate with the dead snakes – even necrophilia is not out of bounds in the animal kingdom . . . (Source)

First thought: wow, these are some freaky snakes. In three paragraphs, we have snake orgies, snake drag queens that try to trick unsuspecting snake boys, and snake necrophilia. These snakes are hardcore, they are on a mission and that mission is to fuck other snakes and make more snakes. And they will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal.

Suddenly, two dudes or two ladies who fancy each other doesn’t seem so weird, does it? Compared to these snakes, humans are basically prudes: straight, gay, bi, trans, it doesn’t matter, we’re all basically celibate compared to the lengths these snakes will go to for some hot snake-on-snake action.

And this is all perfectly natural. They’re just following their instincts. Their natural, presumably God-given instincts.

If we’re to infer that “what’s natural” is a good indicator for how God wants us to live our lives, I think it’s reasonable to assume that God is perfectly okay with some incredibly freaky shit.