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Tell me you love me

By Dan Savage · March 9th, 2005 · Savage Love
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I'm a 21-year-old bisexual male who recently moved back home to Canada. For the last two months I was overseas I was involved with my first male partner. He was a virgin; I was not. He knew about my bisexuality and one night propositioned me. I refused because I wasn't really all that attracted to him. A couple of weeks later I asked him if he was still interested because I wanted to experiment. We wound up having sex pretty much every day for two months. He kept telling me he loved me, but I made it very clear to him that this wasn't anything serious. Eventually I conceded that I did love him, albeit in a different way than he loved me.

Throughout our short relationship, he was extremely possessive and obsessed. I was frankly relieved to leave the country. Now that I'm back home, he constantly sends me e-mails and expects immediate answers. He professes his undying love to me and signs his e-mails with "Love ya, sweetie" and shit like that.

Now he wants to fly over here to see me. I have already decided never to have sex with him again. I don't want to hurt him, but I can't stand his letters anymore. I don't love him like he loves me. I'm not interested in being with him ever again. He's a really nice guy and I'd like to stay in touch, but he acts as though we were serious boyfriends. Though we were fucking all the time, it wasn't ever a true relationship to me. But since I was the first person he told about his homosexuality, he credits me with being the single most important person he has ever met.

I don't want to seriously maim the guy's feelings, but I also don't want to read his heartfelt letters anymore. I don't feel that way toward him. HELP!

-- Confused in Canada

Open your mouth, CIC, and solve your problem.

It's nice that you don't want to hurt this man's feelings, but your desire to spare him is what got you into this mess in the first -- no, wait. I take that back. It was your willingness to take advantage of a guy you weren't "all that into," a guy who was not only closeted but a virgin as well, so you could "experiment" on his ass "every day for two months" that got you into this mess in the first place. You could have spared yourself the emotional torment of having to read "Love ya, sweetie" in his letters if you'd simply refrained from fucking him once you realized that his feelings for you were so much more intense than yours were for him.

But that was then. Now you're back in Canada and this poor, deluded sap is sending you love letters and planning to come and visit. So what do you do? You stop telling him what he wants to hear. You've been telling him what he wants to hear since that night you got drunk and decided to experiment on him, a mistake you compounded by telling him you loved him. You may think you covered your ass by tacking an "albeit in a different way" on to the end of "I love you" but he didn't hear your lame qualifier. All he heard were those three magic words -- love's like that, whether you're talking requited, unrequited, delusional, man-on-dog, whatever.

So it's time to face the music, CIC. You brought him out, you took his virginity and now you're going to break his heart. Write the boy a letter, tell him you don't love him, tell him you don't want him to come and see you, tell him you're not going to read any more of his letters or e-mails. Will it hurt? Yes. But we all get our hearts broken sooner or later, and I assure you that this boy will recover. Most gay men at some point in their lives found themselves on the receiving end of some selfish bisexual guy's "experiment," and the vast majority of us get over it.

My boyfriend is uncircumcised. In general, no big deal. However, his dick often tastes and smells like pee. I've observed that he doesn't pull back the foreskin when taking a piss, and I think pee gets trapped under the foreskin. I often find myself unable to give him blowjobs because I dislike the taste and smell. I want to be a game lover -- and if a man didn't want to go down on me because of the taste, I'd think he was an insensitive bastard -- but I know I'll never enjoy giving him oral sex while I'm tasting pee.

Is this a common problem with uncircumcised men? What can be done? Do other uncircumcised men pull back the foreskin when peeing?

-- No Pee For Me

Hmm. Now that I think of it, a lot of my mail involves situations in which people can solve their problems by opening their mouths. So common are these situations that I believe it's acronym worthy: OYMSYP (open your mouth, solve your problem). Tell your boyfriend that if he wants you to suck his cock he's going to have to start pulling his foreskin back when he takes a piss. It's not a lot to ask and it's what most uncut men already do. Unless he's limber enough to auto-fellate, he might not be aware that his urination technique is leaving his dick in an unappetizing condition. OYMSYP without delay.

My favorite movie musical song is the Jane Russell number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, "Ain't There Anyone Here for Love?" which goes something like this: "I like big muscles and red corpuscles, I like a beautiful hunk of man." Problem is I don't seem to attract muscle men myself. Obviously it's a big fantasy, but can this fantasy come true? Try as I might, I can't seem to get to first base, let alone up to bat. Do you think this can ever happen?

-- Alone in Albany

Sure it can happen, AIA, if you're willing to pay to play. Gym memberships, protein supplements and steroids are all expensive, and there are lots of body builders out there who help make ends meet by renting themselves to guys like you.

"It's a big fantasy for a lot a lot people," says Trey Rexx, a great big hunk of an escort who lives and works in Salt Lake City -- yes, the one in Utah. (You can check out Trey at www.treyrexx.com.) "Some people make a big deal about 'not wanting to pay for it,' but what I tell people is that you wind up paying for it somehow. Even if it's just a dinner date, you're paying for it. Why is it such a big deal to pay to see someone you know to be your physical ideal to fulfill a fantasy?" So does a muscular male escort get a lot of work in a conservative place like Utah? "Definitely," says Trey, "a lot of it is 'straight' men, mostly." It always is, isn't it?

Finally, mail from people who want to praise, bury or perfect my "drug-support payments" proposal continues to pour in. Should guys who infect others with HIV have to help pay the costs of the drugs the people they infect are going to need to stay alive? To read all about it, see below....

If something like "drug-support payments" were ever implemented, when people discover they are HIV-positive they'll be afraid to let their past and present sexual partners know for fear of being sued for support. The uninformed, then, would not be receiving treatment and would be passing the virus unknowingly on to others. Your idea, I believe, would lead to even more HIV infections.

-- Brian C.

I picture the drug-support payments going to the state health agencies that foot the bill for AIDS meds, Brian, not to infected individuals, so there would be no incentive for a newly infected person to go after his infector. A drug-support program could also be designed to reward responsible behavior, so any pro-active steps an HIV-positive person made to help curb the spread of HIV -- such as cooperating with partner tracing programs -- should weighed when determining if he should have to make drug-support payments at all. And in cases where an infected person took all reasonable precautions (i.e., he disclosed his HIV status and used condoms), drug-support payments should be waved entirely.

Drug-support payments from deadbeat infectors? A bloody fucking brilliant idea. A financial penalty might just encourage personal accountability. But please broaden this to include straight men and women who knowingly infect their partners.

-- Christine M.

Consider it broadened, Christine.

The idea that the person with HIV is going to have to pay even part of the drug costs for someone they're deemed to have infected is ridiculous. To suggest that if I willingly have unprotected sex with a stranger and am infected as a result the other person is responsible for infecting me is a recipe for disaster. You seem to like metaphors, Dan. Try this one. The little old lady has a tumor that's growing and decides to jump in front of train. Is it the conductor's responsibility when he hits her? OK, she doesn't have a tumor. She's a little kid who's playing "chicken." Even if you did charge the conductor, it doesn't solve the problem. HIV and AIDS are not going away as long as people continue to have sex. If a person doesn't want kids or sexually transmitted disease, they need to stop having sex. If they don't want to stop having sex, they need to decide what personal level of risk they are willing to take and take responsibility for themselves.

-- Sex Is Something Society Yearns

If the train conductor can see the little old lady and can stop the train before it hits her and hits the gas (or whatever they use on trains) and speeds up ... yes, he's responsible for her death. Someone with HIV and a hard dick is a not an unstoppable train, SISSY.

As a side note to the column on HIV/AIDS, there's a law in Michigan called the HIV Exposure Law. Basically, it says that if you know that you are HIV-positive and you engage in sexual penetration without disclosing your status to your partner beforehand then you have committed a felony. Not sure if they have these laws in other states as well, but I would think they would.

-- Allene

I'm aware of the existence of these laws, Allene, but they're rarely enforced -- at least against gay men. Every time you hear about a person being prosecuted for exposing someone to HIV, it's invariably a heterosexual male, usually African American, who exposed a group of women, usually white. I'll leave it to others to tease out what that says about our culture. Meanwhile, there are gay men out there advertising their willingness to infect other men with HIV as well as gay men advertising their willingness to be infected, and nothing is done about it. Clearly we need a penalty for exposing other people to HIV, some sort consequence, that falls somewhere between doing nothing and throwing someone in prison.

In light of your recent topic, I though you would find this news from Canada of interest: An HIV-positive man has been charged with murder after two of the people he infected died.

-- Shelly

And the man is from Africa, and both of the people who are dead are women. I'm all for charging him with murder, Shelly, I'm just mystified that these sorts of charges are never brought against gay men.

Although your idea seems like a good one in the abstract -- making people who negligently or willfully infect others with HIV pay some sort of support to their victims -- I'm afraid it's an impractical solution to the problem. First and foremost, how do we determine exactly who did the infecting? In other words, assuming the newly infected person has had multiple partners, how do we figure out which sexual partner passed the HIV virus along? And even if we establish that the newly infected person had only one partner, how do we determine whether or not the infector purposefully or negligently infected the other person? Unlike DNA testing, which can establish paternity, there are no tests that I know of which are able to trace the path of HIV infection.

I also don't support any plan that would eliminate or reduce access to drugs and medical care for people infected with HIV.

-- Hoping For a Solution.

Nor do I, HFAS. I never said that drugs should be withheld from anyone. Indeed, I said the opposite. A drug-support payment program would merely help defray some of the costs of providing drugs to people with HIV while also encouraging HIV-positive gay men to be responsible and protect their partners -- even their partners who are too stupid to protect themselves.

And I don't think we would need to catch all, or even a large number of, infectors for drug-support payments to have a deterrent effect. Like I said in the column, a handful of men in every major city who can no longer afford recreational drugs or trips to circuit events because their wages are being docked for drug support payments ... shit, could you imagine the impact that would have?

I thought your idea of making some of these assholes pay for their meds was great. If you have HIV, it might not be "your fault," but it most certainly is "your problem." Therefore you have responsibilities.

The same is true for child support: A hetero man can be liable for child support even in spite of good intentions, maybe through a condom break or a botched vasectomy or whatever. Thus, even the ones who aren't deadbeats can end up paying. In many cases, the payments are based in part on how much you make. Just because it was an accident doesn't mean you're not responsible.

So why not just garnish a percentage of the HIV-positive person's income to offset for the meds? Make it progressive, just like child support: If you're extremely poor maybe you get off the hook, but as you make more money, you pay more. If you have no job but you have assets, they can extract a percentage of them up to a certain percentage of your net worth. If it can be established that someone displayed rampant disregard for their own health and the health of others, make the percentage higher.

As for the uninfected, I have one word: condoms. I don't give a rat's ass if you have "condom fatigue" or if unprotected ass sex feels better. So does unprotected pussy sex to me, and we hetero guys sure don't love rubbers. But we use them, because we don't want to pay child support and/or get a disease. So use the damn rubber, or you'll be paying for your meds when you catch HIV.

-- Reader In Helsinki

Making the payments progressive, and not demanding them of people who are poor, is a wonderful idea, RIH. Thanks for sharing. OK, I'm going to stop interrupting...

I love the drug-support-payment idea. To answer the concern Ana Oliveira had about determining who infected whom: By sequencing the genomes of HIV viruses from the two individuals, it's possible to determine to a high degree of accuracy whether or not one person infected another. It's like a paternity test; because this virus mutates so rapidly, each carrier will accumulate quite a few new mutations. If those new mutations in person A's strain are also in person B, then odds are person B's virus is a descendant of the virus in person A. The actual test is a bit more complicated (like a paternity test, there are some fairly advanced statistics to arrive at those one-in-a-billion odds), but the technology to do this sort of test is getting much cheaper and more automated all the time.

I bet you're going to get letters from people complaining that your plan punishes people who infect others before they knew that they were HIV-positive. If you do, let me be the first to tell them to go fuck themselves. Giving an exemption for people who don't know if they're HIV-positive or not will just encourage people to not get tested. Besides, we don't give paternity exemptions for guys who aren't sure if they're shooting blanks or not, do we?

-- Biologist in Kansas City

I'm a 36-year-old gay man living in San Francisco. I'm astounded at the people who make no excuses for having unsafe sex, proudly proclaiming, "It's my body and I can do what I want with it and it's none of your business!" These radical individualists are the same people who, once they become HIV-positive, run to publicly funded health clinics to bail themselves out. My feeling is, if you expect the taxpayer to foot your health-care bill, we have the right to be judgmental about your personal sex life and the choices you've made.

Not until I see messages condemning risky sex and stigmatizing sexual risk-takers who contribute to the spread of a deadly disease will AIDS organizations get another dime out of me.

-- Stephen B.

People who infect others without their consent are fucked-up assholes, but in a heteronormative society the real blame lies with the systematic devaluation of homosex, of the body and of the planet -- and for that, we queers should be blaming the straight people, not each other. Trying to punish the fucked-up assholes is like sending mean, violent people to prisons (mean, violent places last time I checked) to turn them into nice, loving people. It's just going to make the problem worse. Instead, why aren't you asking why the medications are so expensive? Why aren't you attacking corporate pharmaceutical executives?

I'm sick and tired of homos eating themselves up inside wondering how to be good according to the norms of a society that's already decided we're bad. If you start to do your research or pay any attention to the scientific consensus on global warming, it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that heterosexual violence and overpopulation are not only threatening us as queers but indeed all life on Earth.

-- Queer Liberation Now

I'm gay and frequently on the outs with local gay activists who are adamant that the poor guy who knows he's HIV-positive has enough problems without being expected to inform his possible partners of his status. I agree with you that such people are irresponsible, criminally so, and should be punished for it. The payment idea sounds very good.

But let's not stop with just the criminally irresponsible gay fools who spread HIV. Let's include the druggies who get HIV from sharing needles but refuse to ever wear a condom when with a girlfriend because "I ain't no fag, so I ain't got no AIDS, and I ain't wearing no rubber!"

-- Old Fart

Bravo to you, Dan, for saying what needs to be said about the current state of HIV prevention and the infuriating refusal of too many "HIV educators" and "activists" to unequivocally say that it's unethical to spread HIV via unprotected sex. Just this morning I attended a meeting at an AIDS service organization where a representative of another agency objected to the notion that we need to promote an anti-barebacking community norm. His organization, as he told us, is "nonjudgmental" and prefers to tell barebackers how to "do it safely." If we were to explicitly tell the barebackers that their behavior endangers their lives and those of others, why, we might hurt their feelings! It didn't seem to dawn on this well-meaning but clueless young man that there's no way to bareback "safely" unless you and your partner know for certain you're not infected.

This failure to confront gay men with the consequences of their behavior (to themselves and to others), this deeply entrenched refusal to challenge people engaging in or contemplating self-destructive and antisocial behavior, is endemic to AIDS service organizations and activist groups. I'm all for sexual freedom, for pleasure, for sexual self-determination, and I believe we must fight for those good things now more than ever. But we also need to promote an ethic that values social responsibility, mutual concern and community health, not the kind of rampant selfish individualism too many AIDS educators condone under the guise of being "nonjudgmental" or "sex-positive."

Like "Wake Up People," I too work for a public health agency and my comments here would no doubt make my job and life more difficult. So please sign me...

-- Fed-up Faggot

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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