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Struggle Session: Flashback Column “Love and Death”

Dear Readers: No Struggle Session this week, as I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery. Instead, please enjoy this column from February 1995 — back when every letter opened with “Hey, Faggot.” (And back before our online archives start.) Much thanks to the Tech-Savvy, At-Risk Youth for digging through old print clippings!

HEY, FAGGOT: My partner and I have been together over five years, got married in DC during the ‘93 March on Washington, own a house together, blah, blah, blah. He has developed full-blown AIDS and will be going on disability soon. My health is fine; in fact, even though I am HIV+, my doctor has retested me twice to verify the results because my T-cell count is so high. The problem is sex and intimacy. There is none. He stopped all sexual contact with me almost a year ago. I assume he isn’t “getting it” anywhere else, although I wish he were, so...

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...I assume he isn’t “getting it” anywhere else, although I wish he were, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about my wants to do the same. I have been involved in a few close encounters—never looking for love, just a touch and a little sex—and find solace in online activities through chat and private rooms (an activity that he finds suspicious because he rightly assumes the worst). I know I am being selfish. I know that. I’m not dying, he is. Still, sex is an important facet of any relationship—ours had a lot of it once. What would you tell me to do so I don’t obsess about this any more than I do already? What can I do to be more supportive of him and us? Or do I use my need for release as a justification for any action I deem necessary? Sleepless In Seattle Hey, SIS: Pardon my Catholicism-soaked worldview — incoming guilt — but now is not the time to abandon your lover. Now is the time to, as the song goes, stand by your man. The transition from lover to caretaker is hard, and sadly, many gay couples find themselves making this painful transition earlier in life than the average heterosexual couple. Some men, having spent only, say, five years or less with their partner, find that bonds formed in such a short time are not strong enough to carry them through their lover’s long, drawn out decline and death, and leave. I’m not going to tell you that leaving is okay, or that you have to put yourself first. Nope, I’m going to give you the glue that holds countless relationships together: Guilt. You owe it to him to be there. He needs you now like he’s never needed you before, and if you walk away from him over something as insignificant as sex and let him die alone, you’ll burn in hell for all eternity. Which is not to say that your needs have to be put on hold until he dies. Recognizing your needs, and attempting to fill them, is not “selfish,” so long as you keep your needs in perspective: like you said, you’re not dying, he is. Talk to him, maybe with a counselor, explain your need for sexual intimacy. Have you ever asked him why he withdrew from you sexually? Perhaps, if you guys start talking about it, you can reestablish the sexual dimension of your relationship. If not, if his libido has been destroyed along with his T-cells, find some workable scenario where you can have sexual contacts outside of your relationship. Reassure him of your commitment to him, impress upon him that you will not abandon him, that it’s just sexual release, not love. If all else fails — if he doesn’t want to or is unable to be sexual, and he won’t give you permission to seek sex elsewhere — be functionally dysfunctional: find an understanding sex partner who’s aware of the pressures you’re under and is willing to be discreet, and don’t tell your lover about him. Let’s face it: you and he will both be better off if you are content — or to be blunt, if you’re not impatiently waiting for him to drop dead so you can finally get laid. Good luck. HEY, FAGGOT: Let the truth be known. I, being a breeder male, have somehow managed to go down on a number of women without being altogether sure of where the clitoris is located. I implore you to ask a female expert to 1) explain exactly where the clitoris is located and 2) provide a foolproof diagram. I gladly accept all necessary wrath for my male ignorance in hopes that this mystery may be solved once and for all. Please be sure to include a diagram—pornography has, at the very least, taught us that when it comes to sex, breeder men require a visual aid to penetrate our Cro-Magnon minds. God bless your faggot ass. Want To Lick Clit Hey, WTLC: I knew it would come down to have to draw you guys a picture. Unfortunately, I’m not artist. But while I can’t draw you a picture, I can recommend a couple of good picture books for you. There’s Femalia, a little paperback collection of 32 — count’ em! I did! 32! — “full-color photographs of women’s genitals,” that I have four — count ‘em! I did! there are four! — four copies of, all sent in by compassionate/passive-aggressive readers hoping to cure my widely noted vaginophobia. Femalia reflects “the diversity of women’s bodies,” which means, with apologies to Dr. Seuss, that in Femaliayou’ll find pictures of old vaginas, new vaginas, (frequently) chewed vaginas, (differently) hued vaginas. And clits? Woo-dogey, the clits fairly jump off the pages of Femalia; if you leave the book open on your desk, they follow you across the room like the eyes of some creepy portrait in a haunted house. No two clits pictured in Femalia look exactly alike… but carefully study all 32 photos, WTLC, and you’ll notice a pattern. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to spot the clit quicker than you can say “do me daddy.” (Not that you would ever say that.) Once you can pick out a variety of clits in photographs, you should be able to spot those little buggers when they’re right under your nose. When you’re finishing poring over Femalia, get out your crayons and have a go at the Cunt Coloring Book (in French: Vulves a Colorier), by Tee Corinne. Originally published in 1975, the Cunt Coloring Book (in Spanish: El Libro Para Colorear de “Coño”) has been in print ever since. In the preface, Corinne, a lesbian writer and erotic photographer, says this: “In 1973, I set out to do drawings of women’s genitals for use in sex education groups… I organized the drawings into a coloring book because a major way we learn to understand the world, as children, is by coloring…” If you thought coloring “inside the lines” was hard as a child, just wait till you see these lines. The black-and-white Cunt Coloring Book (in German: Mösenmalbuch) has plenty of clits you’ll easily spot after a few hours with the full-color Femalia. Color them in, and don’t be a racist: use all your crayons — from light pink to tan, to magenta, to red, to purple, to deep brown, to “burnt Sienna.” Lastly, WLTC, why on earth should I bring an “expert” in to explain where your partner’s clitoris is when you are sitting between the legs of the world’s greatest expert on your partner’s genitalia: YOUR PARTNER. She’s all the expert you need. ASK HER WHERE HER CLIT IS. She knows — well, she most likely knows. If she doesn’t, hand her your copy of Femalia and you two can figure it out together. Send your question right here on Savage.Love. mailbox@savage.love

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