Recently I got into one of my Dan Savage binges. I’m a big fan of his sassy wit and straight talk. So many sex columnists strike me as prudes who either hate sex or haven’t gotten laid in the last decade. They’re quick to jump on the anti-porn hysteria bandwagon, I imagine, to appeal to their mostly female audience despite any substantive scientific evidence showing harm. The same kind of pandering can be found on any daytime talk show. Does cross-dressing or fantasies of cuckolding make your man a perv beyond redemption? Absolutely. Or so says Dr. Phil to his estrogen-cheering crowd.
Thankfully, not all get their puritanical ruffles in a bunch. Even when a caller asked Dan about an obscure sex position involving sticking her husband’s testicles in her ass while getting fucked, Dan calmly explained that you first wanted to get the man’s balls in her ass before trying anything more difficult. I’m still trying to imagine how this first step works, but I’m just not able to visualize it.
Most of these questions are hilarious, and I often follow my partner around the house reading them aloud. After about two weeks of this, he’s had enough Dan Savage for the year.
However, a few stories are heartbreaking. A young female caller left a sobbing message relating her recent experience of coming out to her parents. As you can probably guess, it didn’t go well. The young woman was so distraught that she was contemplating suicide.
I grew up in a high school with little acceptance, so I have somewhat of an idea of what she’s facing. No one came out in my school, and it was actually believed that everyone in our class of more than 200 students was straight. I know how naive that sounds for 2015, but in a small town, we simply didn’t know better.
This was in the early days of the internet when Napster was all the rage and a three minute song took an hour to download. What people thought and believed was heavily sculpted by one’s immediate surroundings. After high school and college, more than a few of my friends came out. One of them landed a role on Broadway (I know, know. Totally stereotypical.) I looked him up to see some of his performances and found a video in which he discussed his adolescence. He talked about how difficult it was being a closeted homosexual. I remembered the taunts he received, and how quickly he was dismissed as being weird and girly. Well, the weird, girly kid is now on Broadway, full of confidence and looks manly enough that I’m sure he has to beat back the boys.
During high school, I was struggling with my own sexual interests. When I was a teenager, I thought everyone was into BDSM (a term I didn’t yet know). After briefly bringing it up in casual conversation with friends, I learned to keep those interests to myself. Until I was in my mid 20s, I never spoke of those fetishes again, not even telling those I dated.
Thankfully, there’s more resources and information for people to learn about their sexuality. The internet has provided a unique place where people can come together in an anonymous setting and ask the question, “Am I weird?”
And the answer: maybe. If so, welcome to the club. I’m weird and so is my friend on Broadway. We’re weird people living our lives honestly. Unlike the vast majority of married people, my partner knows all my fetishes. This took time and it wasn’t something done on the first or second or even twentieth date.
Unfortunately, there’s always those who will want you to stay quiet, to keep your weirdness to yourself, and to label you with the latest pop psych diagnosis. Often, these are the same people struggling to make sense of their own weirdness or those looking to make a quick buck off ignorance. Or maybe they just never got the memo that as long as there’s consent and it isn’t harming others, it’s okay to be weird.