Savage Love Podcast
Check out the all new Savage Lovecast site!
Got a question for Dan Savage?
Call the Savage Love Podcast at 206-201-2720
or email Dan at email@example.com.
Savage Love Archives
More from Dan Savage
There Are No Atheists In Foxholes
SL Letter of the Day: Have You Ever Heard of...?
Senate Democrats Fuck Over Bi-National Gay Couples...
Rightwing Anti-Gay French Activist Commits Suicide at Notre Dame Cathedral
Books by Dan Savage
- American Savage
- It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
- The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
- Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me
- Skipping Towards Gomorrah
- The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant
Want a Second Opinion?
Contact Dan Savage
July 4, 2002
Last weekend I visited my second cousin. We've been close since childhood. We would spend two weeks a year together every year, and those days constitute some of my happiest memories. During my visit to her home, we admitted that we had childhood crushes on each other. By the end of the night, we were making love. Although things were fine between us the next day, she said that what we had done must remain a secret. She doesn't think she can handle telling our family that we are in love, although I could live with whatever judgment was passed on us. I miss her every minute and I want to convince her that we should be together. Give me some advice.
-Almost Incestuous Canadian Heartbreak
My advice? Read the friggin' newspapers, AICH. The New York Fucking Times recently signed off on first cousins getting married and having babies.
"Contrary to widely held beliefs and longstanding taboos in America," Denise Grady wrote in the page-one story, "first cousins can have children together without a great risk of birth defects or genetic disease." Grady cites a report in the The Journal of Genetic Counseling by Dr. Arno Motulsky of the University of Washington. After studying thousands of births to first cousins, Motulsky and his pals at the National Society of Genetic Counselors concluded that there was little harm in first cousins getting married and having babies. Oh, and when I checked out a website that Grady mentioned--www.cousincouples.com-- I learned that "first-cousin marriages are legal in every country in Western Civilization, including Australia, Europe and South America, and Canada."
Since you and your childhood crush/adult lover are second cousins, I don't see what the angst and secrecy are all about.
I'm a 19-year-old gay male. I sometimes have sex with my straight male cousin, who is a year younger than me. To count the ways in which this is wrong, I would need more fingers and toes than I have. And I have 20.
It started through childhood sex play. But then we got older. (My first orgasm prompted a conversation that began, "It was really salty that time.") Now we're adults. We get together under the pretense of drinking and looking at porn, but wind up with my mouth around his dick. He has offered to reciprocate, but I declined because I knew he wouldn't really enjoy it. I am torn. It's wrong to have sex with your cousin. On the other hand, I like sucking dick, and he likes having his dick sucked....
-Sticky Oral Situation
If it's okay for straight cousins to marry and make babies, it's certainly okay for gay cousins to offer their not-getting-any straight cousins a little head.
I was abused as a child and therefore sexualized at an early age. When I was about 11 or 12 and my brother was about eight or nine, I encouraged him to do sexual things with me, such as kissing, exploring our bodies, and simulating sex. I "forgot" about these encounters until I took a human sexuality class in college. The professor said that sex play between siblings is a normal part of childhood, but that people often feel very guilty about this because they see it as incest. This brought back the memories of what I encouraged my brother to do. Now I can't shake this feeling of guilt. My brother and I are close, but I don't think this is something I could bring up. Is it truly normal for siblings to have such encounters?
Your problem can be divided into What You Did and Why You Did It. What You Did wasn't a big deal. Your professor was right: Sex play between siblings is a normal part of childhood... although not all siblings engage in sex play, and there's nothing abnormal about people who didn't engage in childhood sex play with their siblings.
Why You Did It--or why you think you did it--is the biggie. You say that you were abused as a child, "sexualized at an early age," and you believe that's the reason you initiated sex play with your brother. Perhaps it is, but plenty of people who weren't abused as children engage in sex play with their siblings. Still, since you view that sex play you initiated with your brother as an extension of your abuse, you view yourself as the "aggressor" and your brother as the "victim." But if your brother wasn't traumatized by the sex play, then you have nothing to feel guilty about.
But guess what? You won't feel better about what happened until you hear that from your brother. That means, of course, that you're just going to have to get drunk and ask him if he remembers those times you messed around as kids.
So, Dan, where were you when you heard that Ann Landers was dead?
I was afraid someone would ask me that. Intending no disrespect, I share the following information with my readers, only because it's the God's own truth: I was sitting on the toilet reading David Brock's Blinded By the Right and listening to the radio when I heard the news.
It's fitting that I was--I'm avoiding the obvious rhyme out of respect--crapping when I heard the news. You see, for years I've been getting letters from people who hate Ann Landers. It seems that a lot of people who read my column didn't like her much, and people would write me and ask me to rip into her. Here's a letter from the fall of 2000: "Why do you spend so much time bashing Ralph Nader? Why don't you stick to your field and bash Ann Landers, that conservative, tight-assed, reactionary bitch?"
Some people may not know that I dedicated my first book, a collection of Savage Love columns, to Ann Landers (as well as Abigail Van Buren and Xaviera Hollander). Ann Landers invented the modern advice column, and while we third-generation advice columnists may use language she wouldn't approve of, all of our columns are modeled after hers. The conversational tone, the guest experts, debates with readers--that's Ann Landers.
While Ann Landers never could wrap her perm around the fact that most crossdressers are straight men, she was more progressive than a lot of people gave her credit for. She didn't pressure women to stay in bad marriages, her position on homosexuality changed with the times, and she was pro gun control. Two years ago, Landers came out in favor of legalizing and regulating prostitution! Her column ran in 1,200 papers, and in some of those papers, her voice was the only progressive voice her readers were ever exposed to. Landers may not have entertained questions about shooting beer up your butt or fucking your sister, but she didn't have to. Landers made it possible for me to answer those questions.
Confidential to That Girl Riding Her Bike:
A friend of mine wants to meet you. He sent me this I Saw U ad, and I told him I would stick it at the bottom of my column. Here goes: "U were riding your bike & spotted my 'Ithaca is Gorges' T-shirt. Wanna reminisce over coffee? Liked your smile, wanna hear your laugh." If you, the Bike-Riding Girl, would like to meet my friend the T-Shirt-Wearing Boy, send me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch.