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Him City

Joe Newton

I’m a 27-year-old gay man, and things are going well for me. I’m doing good in my career, and outside of work things are going well, too. The only problem is that I’m missing a guy to share my life with. I currently live in Salt Lake City, and dating as a gay man here is not awful but it’s definitely slim pickings. I’m thinking of moving to a bigger city to enhance my dating life. I feel that when it even comes to gay dating, the thing is a numbers game and the best thing you can do is to date in a city with lots of other gay men. Do you have any advice for me regarding dating as a gay man in his late twenties? Should I relocate to a city with lots of other gay men? Should I focus on meeting guys...

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...d I focus on meeting guys outside of the apps or stick with them? Mulling Over Relocating My Overflowing Nuts When it comes to dating, MORMON, move on both fronts — meaning, stay on the dating/hookup apps but you don’t be exclusive to them. Keep your photos up (and current) on Grindr, Tinder, Scruff, Recon, Feeld, etc., but get your ass out of the house. Going places and doing things ups your odds of running into a guy you might wanna fuck and/or date and/or marry. (I got an email today from a woman who swiped left on a guy on Tinder and later met that same guy at a party and now they’re married.) As for whether you should move move… Bigger places are generally better for gays than smaller places. Gay men are a tiny percentage of the population, MORMON, and we need to achieve a certain critical mass to create and sustain a viable dating scene. So, a city can definitely be too small. But is Salt Lake City small? The greater SLC area has a population of 1.2 million people, which isn’t too shabby; it’s more than San Francisco proper (815,000), but smaller than the population of the San Francisco Bay Area (7,750,000). Would you have better luck in a bigger city? Maybe, maybe not. Gay men are slower to pair off, MORMON, but we’re likelier to remain paired off once we settle on and for someone. (Paired off, yes. Monogamous, no.) So, being 27 and single again and/or still is nothing to panic about. Still, you should check with your friends about whether you’re doing something wrong — on the interpersonal or personal hygiene fronts; also, are your standards too high or too unrealistic — and you should absolutely go ahead and move if you wanna get the hell out of Utah. But wherever you go, MORMON, there you are. So, if it’s a “you” problem, changing locations won’t fix it. And finally… Are you familiar with the “paradox of choice”? If someone goes to a small grocery store to get mustard and there are only four options, they tend to leave with a jar of mustard. Send that same person to a larger store where there are four hundred kinds of mustard and they’re much likelier to leave without a jar of mustard. Swap in “New York City” for “grocery store,” and “men who are your type” for “jars of mustard,” and you may find yourself so overwhelmed by your options in NYC (or Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta) that you can’t bring yourself to pick a partner. (That said, I know lots of gay men in NYC and LA who met their boyfriends and/or husbands in those big cities — so, having seemingly endless options may be an excuse for some, but it isn’t a problem for everyone.) P.S. For the record: Everything isn’t perfect for the woman who married the guy she met at the party after swiping left on him on Tinder. No one writes to me about their perfect marriage. P.P.S. Confidential to the woman who married the guy she met at the party after swiping left on him on Tinder: Your husband shouldn’t have lied about having lunch with his ex-wife — you’re right about that — but he’s highly likely to interpret a three-week-long freakout about him having lunch with his ex-wife as confirmation that he was right to lie about it. The quickest way to prove to him that he didn’t need to lie to you about that lunch with his ex-wife would be treating that lunch like the non-problem you insist it would’ve been if he’d only told you about it in advance. (“You didn’t need to lie to me.” “I’m sorry; it won’t happen again.” “Apology accepted — now, take me somewhere really nice for dinner.”) P.P.P.S. This goes out to the man who married the woman he met at the party after she swiped left on him on Tinder: The quickest way to figure out whether your wife is lying to you — lying about how having lunch with your ex-wife would’ve been okay if you’d only told her about it in advance — would be scheduling another lunch with your ex-wife and telling your wife about it in advance. Good luck. I’m a pretty explorative guy with few reasonable limits. I’m dating the best girl in the world, and we’ve just moved in together. She’s hilarious, non-judgmental, supportive, and we have good sex, though she is a bit of a pillow princess. I regularly want to get a little kinkier and she’s always saying accepting things but never actually wants to try anything new. She almost pegged me once, more than a year ago, and when I brought up giving it another try recently, she replied that she “hoped to put that off for another year.” We’re in an open relationship, but I feel disconnected from her when I’m with other people. Do you have advice for how to stop wanting more than a partner can give when you only want to be with that one person? Kinkster In Love Lacks Mutual Exploration Nope. P.S. Your pillow princess isn’t putting off pegging you for a year, KILLME, she’s putting off pegging you forever — she’s running out the cock. (Fake cock, but still.) P.P.S. If playing with others doesn’t make you feel great right now, well, don’t play with others right now. But don’t assume — and don’t despair (KILLME? really?) — that not feeling great about play with others right now means you’ll never feel great about playing with others ever again. A period of sexual exclusivity early in a relationship, even one that’s officially open, is usually a good sign; monogamous behavior is one way the insanity of the limerence stage manifests itself. But don’t despair: your ass will get pegged again someday, KILLME, and you’ll like it, even if it isn’t your pillow princess doing it. I have a question that is neither related to sex or relationships, but rather on the ethics of doing a theatre project on sex work. I’m a puppet theatre artist based in Montreal. I am not a sex worker, but I am interested on creating a documentary theatre piece on the topic. Sex work has been part of the landscape of Montreal for decades, yet there is still so much stigma around sex workers. The objective of the project would be to challenge this stigma, explain the importance of this work, and to understand how the law deprives sex workers of autonomy. I am interested in talking with providers, clients, and advocates. Some of my friends have told me that it isn’t my place to explore the topic since I have never done sex work. I believe my intentions are good intended and plan to donate a portion of any unlikely profit to local groups. What do you think? Is it not my place to research sex work? I feel like puppetry is the perfect medium for this topic, but I don’t want to do harm to a marginalized group. Puppeteer Understands Personal Privilege Extracts Toll Fuck your friends. Anyone can make art about anything — good art, bad art, meh art — and lots of people with “lived experience” have made deeply shitty art about their own experiences and lots of artists without “lived experience” have created moving and deeply humanizing works of art about people whose experiences, identities, and employment histories bear no resemblance to their own. Lived experience is great — I’m a fan — but it’s no substitute for talent and no guarantee for insight or empathy. That said, PUPPET, structural barriers have long prevented extremely talented people who happened to be racial minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities (which, for the sake of this response, includes sex workers), etc., from getting funded, published, produced, exhibited, or greenlit; creators, curators, and consumers need to bear that in mind and work to correct it. But being mindful about past injustices and present barriers shouldn’t stop anyone from making their own art. (And in your particular case, PUPPET, I don’t think you need to worry about your sex worker puppet show crowding out worthier sex worker puppet shows created by members of minoritized communities.) The novelist Lionel Shriver (We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Mandibles, So Much For That) gave a famous/infamous speech about identity and art at the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2017. In her speech, Shriver, who thinks there should be no restrictions on who gets to make art about what, cited Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham, who defined “cultural appropriation” as the “taking [of] intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.” “What strikes me about that definition,” Shriver said, “is that ‘without permission’ bit. However are we as writers to seek permission to [create] a character from another race or culture, or to employ the vernacular of a group to which we don’t belong? Do we set up on the corner and approach passers-by with a clipboard, getting signatures that grant limited rights [the] way political volunteers get a candidate on the ballot?” Seems to me, PUPPET, that if you’re creating a show about sex work based on interviews with sex workers, their clients, and their advocates — and you’re honest about your intentions — your subjects are, by agreeing to be interviewed by you in the first place, essentially granting you permission to tell their stories. You could still wind up making a shitty puppet show that pisses off a bunch of sex workers and/or their allies (allies are always likelier to take offense than actuals; allies are always likelier to be towering assholes), PUPPET, but the existence of a few pissed off pupaphobes isn’t by itself proof you’ve done something wrong and/or created shitty art. But if it makes you feel better, PUPPET, find someone who’ll pay you $20 to suck their dick and then hand that same $20 to someone who’ll suck your dick then go home and write a letter to Justin Trudeau about how you made and lost $20 doing sex work and — et voilà! — you’re a provider, a client, and an advocate. P.S. Puppets? P.P.S. For the record: I’m with Shriver in that I agree that anyone should be able to make art about anything. I’m against Shriver on just about everything else — I mean, she’s endorsed Ron DeSantis FFS. P.P.P.S. “Him City” is a really great headline for this column and I worked hard to come up with it and expect to be praised for it. Thank you. Follow Dan on Instagram and Threads @DanSavage. Follow Dan on BlueSky @DanSavage. Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit a written question for “Savage Love” now! Or record your question for the next Lovecast here! The deadline to enter HUMP! 2024 is December 8th! There’s no charge to enter HUMP! and every filmmaker who make it into the festival gets paid! Everything you need to know about getting your five-minute-or-less dirty little porn masterpiece into the world’s best dirty little film festival is at humpfilmfest.com/submit!

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