Savage Love 

Hey, Faggot:

Guess you've heard it all, so maybe this won't sound too weird: I've been married for a long, long time, and my husband and I have accumulated our share of unsolved problems. Sex was pleasant at best, and I faked orgasms more often than I care to remember, even though he was willing enough to do what it took.

Last year I had a lover, and he turned me on like my husband never has. Not that he did anything different, really--he even had a smaller prick--but I could feel him in every cell of my body, and I found myself initiating things my husband could never talk me into. I had completely forgotten how much fun sex could be. My question is: Does sexual attraction hit you like a thunderbolt, or can you make it happen? Could you have a satisfying relationship without it, or does this mean my marriage is doomed? --Not Sixteen Anymore

Hey, NSA:

This is going to sound odd, but I've been reading Sex for Christians: The Limits and Liberties of Sexual Living by Lewis B. Smeades (Eerdmans, 1976), which is not as skinny a book as one would think, but that's probably because it was written in the early 70s, just before the ascendancy of the sex-phobic religious right. As Susan Faludi points out in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, Christian sex manuals were once surprisingly progressive, even coming out in support of sex-fer-pleasure and a woman's right to expect the odd orgasm now and again. (Get me--I'm citing sources. Next week, footnotes.)

Anyway, here's a little Jesus freak wisdom about marriage from Sex for Christians:

"Once it was considered all right to marry for security, comfort, and responsible parenthood. Now we are considered unromantic and calculating if we marry for anything less than erotic desire. We are expected to cultivate, celebrate, and voluptuously enjoy sexual life together for our own sakes."

Insightful, huh? I won't print the stuff about what a rotten hell-bound sack o' shit you are for having committed adultery, just as I spared myself the chapter on "Distorted Sexuality." But I think ol' Lewis is on to something here: Maybe your marriage isn't about sex. Sexual attraction either hits you like a thunderbolt or creeps up on you as you get to know someone better, but it is impossible to force. There were never thunderbolts, from the sound of your letter, and if sexual attraction was going to creep up on you--if you were going to gradually find yourself getting more into your husband sexually--it probably would have creeped by now, considering how long you've been married.

So, you can kill yourself, get a divorce, or accept that maybe your marriage is about other things--security, comfort, kids, money, social position--things that may satisfy you in areas other than sex. Just because you don't have strong sexual feelings for your husband, and vice versa, doesn't preclude you from having a "satisfying relationship."

Nowhere is it written that a marriage is a failure if the sex isn't good. And there are no guarantees: just because you feel someone in every cell of your body today doesn't mean he'll have the same effect on you next week, next year, or 20 years from now. Had you run off with that lover of yours, you might have eventually found yourself stuck with the exact same problem you have now with your husband. So, take the pressure off: stop thinking of your marriage as a failure just because your husband is a lousy lay, and give him credit for what works. And take the odd lover now and again for kicks.

Hey, Faggot:

I'm a 47-year-old gay guy who loves to suck straight working-class cock. Do you know of a pub/bar/gathering place in Manhattan where I can give friendly blow jobs to friendly blue-collar straight guys, and not get beaten up? --Salivating

Hey, S:

No.

Hey, Faggot:

A couple of months ago, I went to Iowa for my aunt's funeral. At the funeral, I saw my cousin Bill, her son, who I had a crush on when I was younger (I'm 27 now). Well, Bill's had a double dose of heartbreak, as his wife filed for divorce right when his mother died. So one night, while offering comfort, we ended up in bed together.

Bill and I actually have a lot in common: neither of us wants kids, and it's hard for us to keep our hands off each other (though we are trying to until his divorce is final). Do you think we can make this relationship work? Should we even try? What if our family tries to keep us apart? --Jane

Hey, J:

You're 27, he's old enough to have a dead mother and a divorce, so you're both of age. And while there are laws that prevent first cousins from marrying, they don't prevent first cousins from screwing. So your family can disapprove, they can disown you and make your lives unpleasant, but legally there isn't anything they can do to separate you.

As far as making it work, so long as you don't want to have kids, you're reconciled to never being able to marry, and you're braced for chilly receptions at reunions, weddings, and funerals (of relatives whose deaths you'll doubtless be blamed for causing)--in short, if you can handle the pressure of being gay--then you'll be able to make this relationship work.

Hey, Faggot:

I'm a 22-year-old shy lesbian who has been in the life for about a year. Because of my inexperience, I have a hard time picking up other women. I recently wrote a very attractive female a letter and a poem, and gave her those items via messenger person. She was giving me the "interested vibe." When I revealed myself, she told me that she knew I was her admirer after receiving a second letter from my messenger person. She says she is not gay, but I think she may be curious.

You are not a gay female, but if you could give me some insight to help me understand what to look for in other gay women, so that I won't make the same mistake, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. --Confused

Hey, C:

Here's some red-hot insight just for you:

1. Do not send poems. If you absolutely must send a poem, do not send one you wrote yourself. Poems are tricky; few poets can pull them off. And sending poems says--screams--do not consider dating me, as I am a geek.

2. Do not send anonymous letters. What type of person sends anonymous letters? Psychos: the Unabomber, Son of Sam, the Zodiac Killer. Receiving an anonymous letter--even one that does not blow up, even one with a poem enclosed--is likelier to make a person feel stalked than admired. Sign your mail.

3. Do not employ "messenger persons." You're "in the life" now, not the third grade.

4. Do not hit on women who aren't out. Together lesbians don't waste their precious time hitting on women who might be gay, or curious, even women giving off "interested vibes." Wishful thinking can jam your vibe detectors, leading you to read "Hey, she's into me" into looks that actually mean "Why is that geeky poetess staring at me?" So, play it safe: Hit on dykes.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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