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November 2, 2000
I have a health question that I am uncomfortable discussing with my family doctor. I am gay, 22 years old, and have only been sexually active for about two years. Whenever I have an orgasm, my semen is a creamy, off-yellow color. Guys I've been with thus far all seem to shoot milky white; in fact, one or two have remarked to me that something seems amiss with my stuff. Is this indicative of anything? This problem has plagued me for as long as I can remember.
P.S. I am really and truly 22 years old. I honestly do not want to bring this up with my family doctor, whom I would have to go to before I could be referred to a specialist.
"Men are lucky in that when they have genital infections, they almost always have pain with urination or a lot of discharge from their penis, not just off-color semen," says Dr. Barak Gaster, Savage Love's crack medical adviser. So what's up with your spunk? "If it's been present for that long, and he has no other symptoms, it's less likely to be due to a serious infection," says Dr. Barak. It's possible that your semen simply is and always will be off-yellow. Not every man's semen is milky white, and slightly tinted spunk (yellow to gray) isn't that unusual. In time you will come across other men whose spunk resembles your own.
That said, while Dr. Barak doesn't want you to worry, he does want you to see a doctor. "This could still be due to an infection, possibly of the prostate," he says. "Diagnosing and treating an infection like this is simple, so a primary-care doctor will be able to handle it, without referring to a specialist." Sorry, SS, but that means you'll hafta work up the nerve to talk to your family doctor about this. If you really and truly are 22 years old--which I didn't doubt until I read your strangely defensive postscript--that means you're all grown up now. Having sex is something grownups are free to do, so there's no need to feel ashamed about sharing your concerns with your doctor.
What exactly differentiates "lesbian bed death," recently discussed in your column, from "heterosexual marital boredom?"
Lover of Lexicon
"Well, it's a game of numbers," says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the sociologist who introduced the phrase in her book, American Couples. "Conceptually, 'bed death' and 'marital boredom' are pretty similar. The difference is that when lesbian couples stop making love a lot, they don't usually make love even a little. Lesbian relationships can get so sibling-like that sex just drops off the chart entirely. That happens less often to heterosexual couples. When it does happen to heterosexual couples, it usually means that the couple really don't like each other very much anymore. In the lesbian case, the couple could really be doing fine on all other criteria--and still be very much in love--but they're totally out of lust."
I'm a married man with the usual three-way fantasies. My wife wouldn't go for it, so I got a couple of hookers and did it in a motel room. The results were much less exciting than Penthouse letters would have you believe, and now I have to live with the guilt. Many straight men have fantasies they can't act on, like getting involved with teenage girls, and when they do act on them, most find that the real thing isn't anything near as fun as the fantasy. Being married involves making some sacrifices. WBS' wife shouldn't have lied, but WBS should let his three-way fantasy go.
Provided WBS isn't with a couple of hookers right now, I would urge him to take your been-there-fucked-that, living-with-the-guilt perspective into consideration. However, I still think WBS should hire a couple of hookers and have that three-way. While you weren't happy with the hookers you hired, WT, I'll betcha the hookers where WBS lives are a cut above the hookers in Waco, Texas. Just a hunch.
Personally, if I were in WBS' shoes--i.e., if I agreed to marry and have kids on the condition that my future wife explore my sexual fantasies with me, and then she backed out after the wedding and the kids--I would rather live with the guilt of cheating than with the anger I'd feel at having been cheated. But, hey, my perspective could be warped; I'm Catholic and already live with guilt, so a little more isn't gonna kill me. WBS may feel differently.
I'm always disappointed when your column doesn't deal with bizarre sexual practices. But I was even more disappointed that someone with the creativity to run as a pro-gay Republican delegate would fall into the same old arguments about the presidential election. In most parts of the country, one can vote for Ralph Nader without voting for George Bush. That's because we're not having a national presidential election, we're having 50 statewide elections, with the winner in each state getting all of that state's electoral votes. If you live in a state where Gore is way ahead (California, New York) or Bush is way ahead (Texas), you can safely vote for Nader without altering the outcome of the election. In truly contested states (Oregon, Ohio, Illinois, Washington), obviously a potential Nader voter has to think harder about the consequences of his/her vote.
Political Nerd in Berkeley
I've been swamped by e-mail messages on the Nader issue. (My personal favorite is a form letter that a hundred or more people have sent, which begins, "What gives you the right to dismiss Ralph Nader as a vanity candidate?" Uh, the First Amendment?) I didn't mention the electoral college in my first Nader column not because I'm ignorant of it, as some Nader supporters have suggested, but because I have a limited amount of space to work with here. Polls are given in national percentages, not state-by-state breakdowns, and that's how I wrote about the race. But PNIB is right: People who live in states that are solidly for Bush or Gore can safely vote for Nader.
In the interest of giving equal time to the pro-Nader side, I'm going to end this week's column with some thoughts from Ani DiFranco, a high-profile Nader supporter. In a prepared statement, DiFranco echoes some of the points that PNIB brings up. "I'm voting for Ralph Nader," says DiFranco, who then goes on to note that she lives in New York, a "safe" Gore state. DiFranco doesn't have to worry about her vote "aiding and abetting" a Bush victory. "But in the swing states, a Green Party vote really does mean that Bush comes one vote closer to winning," says DiFranco. "If I found myself in a swing state, I'd remember the record number of executions Governor Bush has authorized in the state of Texas, for instance, and I'd think long and hard about the bleak future of women's reproductive rights in a Republican-controlled White House. And my vote would go to Al Gore."
Okay, no more on Nader, I promise. It's all bizarre sexual practices from here on out--well, almost all. A national election has been called in Canada, which is a large country somewhere to the north of the United States. I'm not sure I'll be able to resist writing at least one column about that goddam Stockwell Day.