Columns Jan 9, 2013 at 4:00 am

Gay Panic Attack

Joe Newton


M le Marquis - Well, let's look at the first two paragraphs.

1. You committed a Very Gay Act.
2. Freaking out badly = Another Very Gay Act.
3. Gay = "Cray"
4. #1 is not incontrovertible proof.
5. Relax, you're not gay.
6. Trans women are women.
7. Relax, you're not gay.
8. You're straight; alright, already?
9. So it wasn't a perfect encounter.
10. You're just having a panic - which is GAY.
11. You're not gay, so BE A MAN.
12. Straight dudes be HEROES.
13. You're straight; you can take it.

The rest of the answer I didn't mind. The only way one can take the first two paragraphs as not being homophobic or at least anti-gay is because one knows that Mr Savage likes to make this sort of in joke in order to convince the "str8" crowd what a Cool Homo he is. Though I've never seen it, I've heard enough about it to guess with some confidence that I can blame South Park.

But the thing about this sort of in joke, if overused, is that the people who really think like that just pick up the reinforcement of their prejudice. If I were to imagine two teenagers reading this column, say, perhaps, a gay potential suicide and someone who might enjoy bullying him into it, the bully would enjoy the first two paragraphs a lot more than the victim. My contention is that this was not necessary. The LW could still have been reassured *without* giving aid and comfort to the anti-gay crowd.

I can appreciate Mr Savage's intent. He perhaps thinks that by appealing to the subconscious of the anti-gay crowd that some of them can be converted. He's quite skillful; at times he almost reminds me of that malevolent but brilliant showman Derren Brown. Like most of those who overdo in jokes, Mr S just gives people too much credit and overestimates how many people really take the true point. And there could be an element mixed in that makes this similar to the way some women go out of their way to make sure people don't think they're feminists.

I am prepared to concede that it is possible that those who would take aid and comfort and be reassured in their anti-gay beliefs from the first two paragraphs of this answer might not constitute a large portion of Mr Savage's audience.

But to all the straight people who are so eager to defend the answer as neither containing nor feeding anti-gay prejudice, I close with a parallel. This answer did strike me, as it has struck others, as being reasonably trans correct, if not downright trans positive. Unless I missed it, there has been no trans person in this thread arguing to the contrary. However, if one did, I should be quite prepared to give such an argument (especially if it weren't contradicted by someone with equal standing) a good listen and a good think before replying (if I did at all, which I probably wouldn't). I am not as skillful as I'd like to be at being able to tell those less privileged than I why they're being over-sensitive.
I'm completely with #14 & others on "triad." (1) It's the common term I've heard among people I know who are in such relationships. (2) It's an actual English-language word, whereas the neologism "throuples" presumes "couples" are the norm, and triads a deviation which must be understood in terms of its relation to that norm.
Wsos is a douchebag. The transexual he objectified by hiring --instead of taking her on a nice date--should refuse to take his calls.

Wsos is so insecure about his own personhood that he globs his vey WORTH onto being "straight." God I hate people like that.

Wsos likes trans women but feels ENTITLED to consider himself superior.

Wsos is what's wrong with the world.

Why do I have trouble having ANY sympathy for wsos?!
What #38 said.

Shame on you, Dan Savage. Apparently you can't see that throwing your trans sisters under the bus is shameful!!

" "Are you F*CKING kidding me with this effeminophobic, essentializing, b*llsh*t? I guess it was in service of a joke, which means it's totally can the creator of "It's Get Better" not be critical about attaching negative attributes to the gay label? In case this comes as a surprise to you Dan, gay people are bullied much more for being gender atypical than they are for who they fuck. And you essentially just said "dude, stop being so gay"...REALLY? REALLY?! "
As my just-prior comments show... Dan's trans phobia is as entrenched as ever. He's just "modernized" it a little bit. What a hypocrite.
Why all the hating on WSOWS? He's 21 fer chrissakes, cut him some slack. I give him points for being brave enough to explore his kinks at such a tender age. It's stupid to say he shouldn't be concerned if he WERE gay -- it's a major identity thing that could be expected to rock his world a bit, doesn't mean he's a homophobe. He wrote to Dan asking to be educated and that's what he got. Be nice.
@109: What hating on WSOWS? I was only laughing (re: @19) because
WSOWS's letter reminded me of a series of screamingly fake-sounding letters to Savage Love that Dan calls "How'd That Happen?!?" or "HTH"
letters (for more on HTHs, read Dan's compilation of previously printed Savage Love reader mail in his book, Savage Love).

To me, WSOWS's letter sounded a little over-reactionary (see the HTH letter to Dan from the "200% Straight Guy"). WSOWS can be gay, heterosexual, bi, tranny, or a pin-striped unicorn.
Whatever. That's his choice to make at age 21.

WSOWS: don't freak out---you've got the rest of your life to discover what turns you on.
Of course "throuples" are odd. Obviously. Same with qiuntoples and septouples. And single people, for that matter.
In the words of a gay friend of mine, "Being gay has nothing to do with your butt."
As a confused/traumatized participant of this outercourse phenomenon, my friends nicknamed it both hotdogging (meat between two buns) and crackerjacking (jacking off with my crack).

Can we add those to the Savage Love dictionary?

I'd say, "Being gay is about what goes on between your ears, not between your ass cheeks."
@109: because wsos needs to learn--and better at a tender age--that he should show respect to trans women too. Dan failed to teach him that. Instead, Dan and wsos had a frat-boy-type conversation above--both exuding effemmaphobia and trans phobia. The never-humanized OTHER throughout is the trans woman prostitute. Wsos is as complicit as Dan in this.

See also my above comments before I registered.
@93 - I think it's probably a bit difficult to be raped by a hooker. Doesn't one pay in advance? And specifics are hashed out?
@93 con't - Not that he couldn't have withdrawn consent in the middle of it, but he didn't indicate that in any way. It does get into that substance use gray area I suppose - but if he felt he was capable of consent in all other areas it seems unlikely he considers this one portion of the evening (I imagine he wasn't consuming alcohol or hash during sex) as rape.
@115: Both WSOWS and Dan refer to the trans sex worker as "she" and "her; both describe her respectfully; both acknowledge and appreciate her conscientious behaviour around practicing safer sex. I see nothing disrepectful or dehumanizing in how she is treated in this letter or its response.

If you are referring to what you said in your first unregistered comment @106, where you described "the transexual he objectified by hiring --instead of taking her on a nice date," you may want to look up the definition of sex worker.

Am I objectifying my plumber when I hire him to clear my drains instead of taking him on a nice date?
The first guy. Whatever, Dan. You spent way too much column space on this kid. He's not gay. Itโ€™s all about the โ€œwhoโ€ not the โ€œwhatโ€ and by the way, there are many really dude crazy, total homo gay guys who also don't like anal. Done.

Speaking of anal; I think Dan pulled "throuple" out of his butt. WTF? I've never heard that. Triad maybe. Threesome (even for committed triads)but never heard of throuple. That's not even easy to say without sounding kind of lame.
I'm sorry, Hunter78. That's a sad story. May she rest in peace, my friend.

Does your story incidentally illustrate that ambient attitudes re trans women were--and remain--troubling in ways that don't always have an obvious answer?. Ways far deeper than using the proper pronouns--or labeling a hooker a hooker, or not. Ways even sex columnist dsavage has a prominent history (and continuing record) of simply getting wrong.

Love vibes to all those who don't fit the cis binary--and those who love them, in whatever still-totally-real-and-worthwhile way. My gut is that it will take large, influential swaths of straights to see trans women as sisters they can love as individuals, even if just platonic best friends sometimes--for much progress to occur for many trans women. Lg folk have seen progress in this regard--to be seen as people first. But here's a full column that considers a trans woman as merely a sexual toy that you don't want to let yourself get too involved with. How dehumanizing. From someone like Dan: sad, shortsighted.

Maybe Dan is just blind to trans issues; a lot of straights are blind to lgb issues. I'm only a soul here figuring it out for me, in my own private way. Out.
@Hunter78: Nice riff.
@121: But here's a full column that considers a trans woman as merely a sexual toy

This column was about a boy who got more than he bargained for from a transsexual sex worker. Perhaps you're confusing it with something else you read or heard?
@121 "My gut is that it will take large, influential swaths of straights to see trans women as sisters they can love [and befriend] as individuals"

Yes, and this is starting to happen in the younger generation. Brings to mind this saying:
"People don't change their minds. They die, and are replaced by people with different opinions."
@124 EricaP

Yep, and I'm raising the next generation. Three of them. All of them LGBT-friendly before puberty - my biggest achievement.

I can't know in advance what they're going to be, right ? So whatever they discover they are when puberty hits, they already have had years knowing that it will be normal and nothing to be ashamed of. And what they're raised to consider as normal in themselves, they'll find obviously all right in others. And they'll tell their friends.

Knowledge is power. Thanks Dan for making it available to us parents, so that we raise considerate humans instead of jerks.

Has any other parent out there remarked how spontaneously little kids will describe the whole spectrum of orientations when they talk of their future ? I've heard kindergarten girls saying they would get married together, or form a trio with a boy, and boys saying they would grow up to be women.

Pre-teen role-play conforms a lot more to the hetero model - I guess because adults have had time to fill them with heteronormative talks.
Ms Erica - You may have hit on something here. If the saying were to hold particular aptness regarding trans issues, I can see where Mr Savage might be at odds, so much of his philosophy on coming out being that people can and do change their minds all the time.
@EricaP, @vennominon: People don't change their minds. They die...

The second part is certainly true, but the first part is a self-fulfilling prophecy that sells people short.
I think WSOWS is a good lad, he just went too far in regards to his sexual boundaries and doesn't know how to deal with it.

I mean, for a straight kid, that's a big fucking deal, but he was obviously in a wierd state of mind. It happens, and it happens to a lot of dudes who shack up with other dudes not ts girls.

And I don't think he's homophobic, or transphobic. He called the worker a she, an asked Dan of all people.

Kudos to the kid for discovering himself, and knowing what's right and wrong for him sexually. Eventually he'll get over it.
@127, if you want another fight, seandr... Your post @123 is what made me think of the saying. You think you're on the side of the angels, and all you can do is be mean to Maybe-bigendered @121. Criminey. Maybe-bigendered was criticizing Dan; ya think maybe Dan's a big boy who knows how to take criticism and turn it into publicity? Maybe you could try to post with a little more compassion and less snark for people who are clearly facing a harder slog in life than most of us do?
@127, in other words: if you want to change my mind about whether old people like us can change their minds, then change your mind about whether it's appropriate to be snarky to transpeople and the genderqueer.
I'm sorry. I don't believe being straight is "better", but I do believe it's a helluva lot easier.
I cop to not having read all previous comments, so please forgive me if someone has said this before, but if a two-person relationship grouping is called a "couple," should not a three-person one be called a "few?"
Dan, did you just want to make TRIOS embarrass himself in public by using the word "throuple" instead of "triad"? The linguistic equivalent of giving someone Kalteen bars to lose weight, eh?
One thing about which I have changed my mind is that, on a reread, I shall agree with the objection to "Wanting to be with a woman who has a dick is an almost exclusively straight male kink/obsession/wild side." I took it at first in context with the rest of the paragraph and am prepared to accept the evidence of the mailbag, but at best it's ugly phrasing.

I was hoping that Ms Erica, who seems perhaps the most just judge in this area, would opine on the "objectification vs nice date" idea that originated in #106, as I really don't know what to make of that.
vennominon@134: Personally, I don't find the debate about "X is objectifying" to be helpful. I believe we objectify other people all the time, even our colleagues and friends and lovers, and so I don't think it's a good way to decide whether one is behaving badly or not.

I'd rather focus on whether we are being useful and kind. Hiring a sex worker is useful to the sex worker, obviously. We have no reason to think WSOWS was unkind during the evening, so I give him the benefit of the doubt there.

But when people in the trans or genderqueer community complain that others only see them as freaks who are unsuitable for real relationships, I don't argue with them. I try to listen and learn. (Apologies for the sanctimony.)
PS, thanks, vennominon, for demonstrating that it is possible for us old people to change our minds. I learn something new every day :-)
Maybe 70% of gay men are bottoms, and enjoying it has to do with how it feels, one doesn't even have to be attracted to the guy fucking you. As for straight men, they have all the same nerve endings down there, and I've heard there are some straight bottoms out there who are not particularly attracted to men, but like how it feels. Among Latinos, if you are a bottom that makes you gay -- while you can top a guy and still consider yourself straight. In a way, that is ridiculous. In order to top a guy you have to be attracted enough to be able to "get it up." But the way guys are, they will adhere to any convention that allows them to have the kind of sex they want while preserving their sense of masculinity. As far as I'm concerned -- let them.
It didn't strike me as sanctimony. That's a sound approach.
@16 I'm giggling over here. Now, I'm seeing them, too!
I've been in a triple for the past 15 years. Add me to the list of people who have never heard the term "throuple" (which gets a mere 5000 hits on google, ore evidence that it's not the usual term).
@138 thanks :-)
Okay. it must be the steak and red wine of a new diet for 2013 talking, in addition to my staggering off topic once again, but what IS it about the
red meat penis in the Smitten Kitten ad?
Is it SUPPOSED to be hypnotic (to sell red meat penises)?

I'm getting enough red meat at home, however carnivorous!
The ad is for people like me who find it strangely sexy....
@142/143 The fingernail polish on the model's hand is a nice touch.
I think I'm going red meat crazy due to my new no-carb, gluten-free, no sugar diet. I can eat all the red meat, cheese, eggs, and dairy products (except whipped cream and ice cream, of course) and veggies (except carrots and potatoes) I want. No bread, pasta, or rice--largely because it's all processed. No fruit, either, because of fructose. Sadly, I have discovered that I have Type II Diabetes. The good news is that I'm 48, not 78, and can reverse my high blood sugar situation (I'm a walking industrial-sized can of Hershey's syrup right now). Hopefully one day I can enjoy chocolate again without threatening to accidentally kill myself.

@143: Okay. I'll buy that.
@144: I do have to admit, I like the fingernail polish. The red meat penis is quite the hypnotic distraction for me.
I think WSOWS just realized that in te end, the fantasies of being dominated weren't what he wanted realistically. Your life is a story, and when you make bad decisions you taint it. That's what I think happened here.
One experience don't make you gay.

Any straight dude in this experience would've done the same, and questioned it.
I don't think he thinks he's gay, he just thinks what he did was gay.

If you're straight and you end up on drugs and booze, (I've been high on coke and whiskey and done some strange things), you'll
Without a doubt question yourself. It's fucking normal. Not all men are going to be cool and open-minded enough to look back and say "yo, I took a dick in my ass! Awesome.". It's just not the way out society works. And on top
Of that many trans sex workers state that the men who visit the
Are usually straight men lookin for something new. All the people saying otherwise are gay men who have a lot of self-hatred issues.
Sydney Australia has a ultra conservative, anti-equality, looking the other way history with sex offenders in the church Cardinal: Cardinal George Pell. I'd love to get 'Cardinal George into common usage here.

Maybe a 'Dan goes Down Under' tour could help the campaign?
"Stop acting so crazy!"
Nice reference to Jimi Hendrix lyrics "Fire", released Sept. '69.

The kids, indeed.
Yeah, the common term (among poly and non-poly people who I've encountered) is "triad" -- I've only heard "throuple" (which makes me want to throw up a little -- it sounds like a bit of vomit in the mouth) from cutesy straight female writers who think they're being daring in discussing *OMG CONSENSUAL NONMONOGAMY" in a breathless tone like it's just been invented.

(I am a bi woman who is part of an FFM triad, fwiw.)

However, I'm not a gay man -- is this common parlance in your circles, Dan? I'm fairly active in the in-person and online poly circles, and "triad" and occasionally "trio/threesome" are the terms I see in use. "V/Vee" would be a 3-person relationship where one person is involved with 2 others, but they aren't involved with each other.

I use "triad" and think a threesome is something you DO, not something you ARE (it's 3 people fucking, but not necessarily 3 people dating -- and plenty of triads aren't into threesome sex.) With that said, if that's the term that someone else is happy/comfortable with, more power to 'em.

Gay male poly people -- is "triad" or "throuple" the term you use most?
Okay---for anyone interested, my high protein, high fat (within reason), no carbs / gluten and sugar-free diet is working wonders!! In addition, I am taking iron, B12 & Vitamin D supplements and thyroid medication along with my nightly blood pressure pill. Amazing!!! I think I might even be getting my sex drive back after all these years! YOWZA!!

WHY, however, did the VA LIE to me about nutrition over 19 years after I left the U.S. Navy? Processed foods, bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes were all killing me! At least I know now, and am doing something about it.
I don't know if I've actually lost any weight, but I certainly have lost inches that count--particularly around my former Buddha belly over the past two and a half weeks! One day, I can have dark chocolate again.
Best news of all: I recently dined out---and got carded---at age 48!
Our server got a good tip--it was a Kodak moment when she looked at my driver's license.
And I found my favorite Brad Pitt flick this weekend, too!!
p.s. I'm still working on my stand-up routine. More later.
As for WSOWS, there have been some great responses:

@12 @38 (slinky) pointed out very well that penetration can be a very emotional boundary and that being under the influence is a fast track to poor decisions.
As as shy person, drinking a bit (not too much) helps me be more social and assertive with women. However, it is a slipery slope to poor decision making.
For a guy, loosing the "anal virginity" is probably emotionaly much closer to a girl loosing her virginity. To have this happen with a sex worker is traumatically for sure.

@57 also distinguishes quite well the difference between being gay and liking anal penetration and being fucked.

I totally can relate to this. I'm not a dominant male and I like when girls are on top (pun intended).
I haven't tried pegging but is definitely something I want to try. First I need to get a girlfriend but that is difficult due to my shyness. I only tried masturbating with a finger in my ass and it feels great.
As for the trans-porn, I also find it very hot but I had a similar reaction for WSOWS when I discovered trans-porn and that I got really aroused with it.
In the end, the most exciting thing is the power dynamics and that only makes me a kinky straight guy.

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