If You See a Prude Eating Ass In a Sex Club Are You Obligated To Keep Quiet About It?

Comments

1

At first read I was all "now THIS is vintage Savage Love" before I noticed this is literally vintage Savage Love.

2

The phrase is actually "derring-do", which I guess is a fossil word.

3

I will note that it is not clear what "uptight but openly gay prig" means. Is the man in question Mr. Uptight or Mr. Prig? His offense, if any, is rather different if he is exhibits "anxiety in an overtly controlled way" versus being "a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if they are superior to others."

Either way, BM's purpose in exposing this man was entirely about "dishing the dirt over cocktails." Even if the man in question is Mr. Prig, BM doesn't even claim to be relating the facts in question with the purpose of exposing him as a hypocrite, rather it was mere fodder for drunken gossip. As such, I think BM was in the wrong.

To the broader question: How much privacy can one reasonably expect while engaging in consensual sex in a sex club? At kink clubs in New York City, people would be very pissed about being outed, so people expect attendees to keep quite and be discrete about who they see there and the goings on. And in this part of Germany, people seem to do a fair bit of swinging, and appear to expect a high degree of discretion about that information.

5

"There is some kind of fag code of honor that nobody ever told me about that says that whatever deeds take place in these establishments stay there."

This is EVERYONE'S code of honor, dude. Seriously this kind of narcing should have been beaten out of you by 3rd grade. How you became an adult and not know this is baffling.

6

Wow - an 18 year old Savage Love. I am feeling nostalgic... Still love your stuff from the ol' "Hey Faggot" days, Dan (but that last made-up line probably wouldn't be included today.)

7

@1 you're welcome.

"If you don't want gay men gossiping about your sex life, don't have sex in front of a crowd of gay men." aka "If you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to worry about". I mean, you're eviscerating even the concept of the closet here, Dan. I get that you don't have respect for closet-cases, but people ought to have the right to keep their sex lives private. "If you didn't want your naked photos being published, dont take naked photos". Dan, does Terry have the right to discuss your sexual habits and activities? If you didn't want Terry to gossip about you, you shouldn't have had sex with him doesn't hold much water. You're a hair-width's away from re-legalizing revenge porn here.

Please tell me you've updated your opinion on this in the post-PATRIOT era.

8

@1 Oh wow. Hella vintage. It'd be fun to hear from Dan why he picks these. Does he think the advice still rings true or is this a "hey, look at how extra we all were in 2001" sort of deal?

For the record, even for 2001 Dan got it wrong. He passed judgement on Mr. Prig without knowing why Mr. Prig is a Mr. Prig. Most of the kinks I know with a slightly priggish persona are doing it for a reason, like professional obligations. And that would have been true x10 in 2001. Or they just don't want to gab with hets about gay behavior because who the fuck would want to?

And honestly, gabbing to his gf about the guy's "scandalous" behavior was really the most priggish and precious thing the OGLW could do.

So yea, he was wrong to do it. There's no fag code of honor. There's no general rules about discretion. There's just being a fucking adult. The ass-eater didn't have a right to privacy, but he still had a right to pissed that LW a gossipy little fuckwit.

And if memory serves, Dan was kind of priggish in 2001 too. About sucking a randos dick in a bar, 2001 Dan was worried about the other saliva on said dick. Like 2001 Dan was constantly worried about flu season.

9

Sex is a weird etiquette. We are all beings. We have strong desires, and we also have strong opinions of people who don't share our desires. I would like some discretion, if you see couple doing the act.

However, if one goes to a sex club, and is in an orgy in front of 30 other people, it is difficult to demand privacy or people gossiping about it. I don't see this as private, no matter if the Mr. Prig is literally getting his balls and cock rocked. (and rimmed)

Final Verdict: Gossip as much as you please on this event. If one is doing a sex act in open view of others, he or she is allowing consent to talk about it. (filming, that is a different matter)

10

Call me old-fashioned, but while I agree that one needs to own up to what one does in a place like a bathhouse, it's tacky of the gossiper to go tattling to everyone about it. I am extremely open-minded when it comes to sex, and there are many incidents that one could relate about me, but some drunk babbling to me about someone else's rim jobs just isn't my cup of tea.

11

"I shared this fact, she blabbed it"
Uh-huh. You also blabbed it. I'll give you that you're telling something you saw and she's telling something she was told, but otherwise you're both sharing and/or blabbing.

12

Perhaps it's a generational thing (I'm Gen X), but I also subscribe to a "what happens in the bathhouse, stays in the bathhouse" policy. I might talk to my partner about someone we both knew that I ran into / had sex with / watched swinging from the chandeliers. That would be it. I CERTAINLY would never talk to a straight woman, no matter how supportive, about anything whatsoever to do with a bathhouse. It is not her place or her space. It belongs to us gay and bi men. Period.

OP, I would ask you this question: do you tell this straight, female friend of yours about intimate details about your own sex life? No? Then why the heck would you tell her about someone else's? (And if you are the kind of person who shares that kind of thing with such a person, remind me never to date you, because you're violating the privacy of your own partners)

Finally, I would make this observation: the guy in question has some kinks. If he feels the need to act like a prig in public, clearly he is not comfortable with that side of himself. How do you think he felt when he discovered that you'd been blabbing about his sex life all over? More to the point, if he's got such issues, ask yourself, "Am I helping? Am I being a supportive friend?"

The answer here is clearly, "No." Prig may be a hypocrite, but you're a nasty, gossipy asshole, OP. Frankly, of the two of you, you come out looking worse.

13

I am a member of several sex/kink clubs. All of them emphasize that attendees should not discuss what they see there. Assuming that because someone engages in certain conduct at a sex club, everyone is entitled to gossip about it is far from the rule.

14

I agree it's tacky to gossip about consensual activities you saw at a sex party. Depending on the venue rules, it may get you banned. Or maybe the other attendees will arrange to block your view next time.

15

@13. 14: This is another really important point. Sex clubs and parties work because people feel they are safe places to act in ways they can't in other places. If you start blabbing about whatever you see going on there, you are actively undermining the safety and privacy of that space.

OP's actions carry the potential to dissuade others from using this venue. Which obviously sucks for the venue. It also sucks for anyone who uses it.

16

Of course there's some social expectation of discretion at a sex club, no, Dan? Is the priggishness doing all the work here to override that, by an "out the hypocrite!" principle? Needs more than just tagging him as a "prig".

Like, generally you don't out people you saw being gay at a gay bar. Exceptions might be granted if they're a Republican Christian Senator who exercises power for bigotry. If the guy were just in the closet and "a prig" -- maybe he says loudly how the gay sex grosses him out so much with all its gross hard cocks -- that's not an outable offence.

Backing away from the analogy, I think you should ask Judith Martin for reals. She might very well answer (she certainly won't clutch any pearls) and I'd like to see what happens.

17

Boy, the following question in the 2001 column has not aged so well in the shock that this one lesbian turned out to be [italics]a man! Glad you've grown, Dan, and glad my dumb ideas from twenty years ago aren't flying in the breeze.

18

I don't see anything in the printed letter about The Prig that says his behavior was hypocritical. (Given this, this letter and response is insane.) As such, while one could gossip about his public behavior, a better person could also take the higher road and choose not to.

19

Now that I realize the letter is older than many readers, I see it's also weird that only 2 Comments are on the original (insane) letter.

20

Not only do I wish that the original poster would update us all when an older letter is rerun, but I wish Dan would tell us whether or not he'd answer the same way if he got that letter today. This information seems much easier to come by. I operate under the assumption that the tech-savvies or an intern picks the old rerun for the SLLOTD, and that choice is based on . . . and here's where I falter. I've been thinking that letters that generated a lot of responses was the main criterion, but now that's been dashed. I'm mystified. But most of us have shifted in our thinking about at least some things since 2001, and I'd be curious to see if Dan thinks his thinking has shifted.

Corydon@12 has nailed it.

21

Today's rerun really drives me crazy, since there is nothing in the printed letter upon which Dan could conclude:

"Mr. Prig is a hypocrite"

Because nothing in the definition of "prig" demonstrates that The Prig doesn't publicly support people who rim while being sucked.

And even if the LW neglected to mention that The Prig publicly opposes this (and thus is actually a hypocrite), it's only right to out him in cases such as being (now quoting Mtn. Beaver@16) "a [I infer closeted and anti-gay] Republican Christian Senator who exercises power for bigotry" (over others to prevent them from doing the same as he secretly does himself).

22

@20 nocutename
"I've been thinking that letters that generated a lot of responses was the main criterion, but now that's been dashed. I'm mystified."

They could also automate the selection based upon hits on the letter's webpage.

23

@22 p.s.
After all it is page hits rather than Comments that drive their ad revenue.

24

It is an obvious point, but if one doesn’t wish to be gossiped about, one should avoid at all costs being interesting, and instead cultivate dullness as assiduously as London cultivates drizzle. Mr Prig was on the way with his (presumably) dull adherence to bourgeois sexual mores, but couldn’t resist having an actually interesting sex life. Had he instead adopted an excitingly bohemian morality, or even a retro free-love vibe, his interesting sex life would be, ironically, far less interesting for being consistent. And nothing is more interesting than inconsistency. Finally, today Mr Prig could rim on the Broadway stage without fear - there are far worse things on the internet to talk about.

25

@24
"...if one doesn’t wish to be gossiped about, one should avoid at all costs being interesting..."

Very good advice for The Prig. But as for the LW...

"presumably"

I'm reluctant to presume anything not written by this LW, because even assuming unstated hypocrisy, the LW acted dishonorably. I just don't feel like making assumptions to reduce the blame deserved by someone who was was at best not honorable.

Though it's true that for all we know The Prig was a hypocrite. I wouldn't be surprised at all to discover that the LW simply wasn't a good enough communicator to state that.

26

Oh my gawd, Vera! So there I was at a sex club getting my knob polished by some random guy, and would you believe it! Right across the room Bob was eating some other guy’s ASS! You know, “Priggy Bob”! I was so dumbfounded, Vera, I damn near shot my wad right in my own ear! Fuck! His tongue would have made Gene Simmons blush, it was so long, and... Vera! Don’t tell anyone! Wink, wink. I wouldn’t even be telling you, but, damn! Bob is SUCH a PRIG!

Ok, Vera, pardon me, I gotta get back to my eighth grade study hall.

27

And to all the naysayers, do I really have to quote our beloved Oscar (he’s the gay Jesus, only wittier and without all the Plato plagiarism)? - “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” The defence rests.

28

What happens in a sex club stays in a sex club. Even I know that, I’ve seen the movie.

29

I'm just wondering if Ms. Manners ever followed up with her own advice.

30

@28, LavaGirl--I thought rule number one was to never even talk about Sex Club? You know what, that may or may not be the right movie...

...Agreeing with just about everyone here. All I can say is, if anyone is that eager to start naming names, pointing fingers, and spreading gossip, they better hope they're fully out and not having any affairs or anything. Karma is a REAL bitch...

@26, DonnyKlicious, I just about ruptured my own appendix, thanks for the mid-lunch pick-me-up, lol.

31

Agree entirely with posts @1 and @2. I don't know why the phrase is derring-do, I just know that it is. Looks like the phrase was first used with that particular spelling in Ivanhoe (1820). So I did learn something from this ancient, yet still entertaining, letter. Which wouldn't be relevant these days because Mr Prig would just use Grindr. Ho hum.

FWIW, I agree that Mr Prig should have expected that what happened in the sex club would stay in the sex club. Excusing it by saying "but gay men are notorious gossips" sounds suspiciously like claiming a young woman who got raped at a fraternity party has no right to complain because straight men are notorious rapists. Sure, there's the temptation of schadenfreude such as that when homophobic senators are caught with dicks in their mouths, but this man is not, as far as we know, a law-making public figure. People can still lose their jobs for stuff like this. BM should have kept this juicy gossip to himself.

Corydon @12, Dan is a GenXer too (just). And it's entirely possible BM does share details of his own sex life with friends. Some people have no filter that way. I agree completely that a hypocritical prig is amusing, but a nasty gossip is dangerous. Unless, for instance, Mr Prig is a city councillor who campaigned to have gay clubs shut down, BM is indeed the worse of the two.

NoCute @20, good point. Dan, do you agree with this advice?

32

And, yeah. Shuddering at the answer to the second letter in that column, too. Hope 2019 Dan is just as embarrassed at his 2001 self as the rest of us would be, if our thoughts from then were in print.

33

I thought Dan had his middle thirties tongue in cheek, with the last part of his answer. Maybe the etiquette Queens of the day were giving him curry. Or he was playing..

34

Eeh, I think there's a difference between "outing" and "gossip." Essentially, for a closeted queer, swinger, or kinkster, there is a pretty solid rule that you don't out them to people outside the community. Gossip within the community about your particular sexual attributes or inclinations, on the other hand, seems to be half* the enjoyment most people get from being in the community.

So, yeah. Expect gossip.

(* - seriously, it's 50% gossip/drama, 25% the specialty clothes, 5% miscellaneous social aspects, and about 20% the actual sex)

35

Something like this happened to me. My response was that my public persona and, erm, public behavior at the bathhouse (it was on the other coast) were entirely aligned. I was a fastidious, snooty, deprecatory, would-be erudite, largely self-chastening queer, but with breakouts. How could the gossipy guy not have seen this? If he thought I was a prude, I thought he was a twerp. Sure--he could say what he liked. What did he think of Butler's mediation of the ecole freudienne in this paragraph on infant sexuation? Actually, I think the activity I was gossiped about doing was in, fact, rimming.

Mr Prude is a Prude in thinking there is a fag code of honor in this context. He's a bit silly in this sense, and in no other sense. His line should be just to laugh in the face of straights and say, 'sure! Why not?'

36

Circa 2001 Dan: like cheese or wine, some get sharper as they age others mellow, Dan certainly has mellowed.

As for the advice, agree w/ many comments above the gossip / outing depends on the usage of prig: if the prude was just up tight, confidentiality should prevail. If the prude was moralistic / sex shaming and/or in a position of power shutting down clubs (a city councilor) - out him.

@31 Grindr has not supplanted gay sex clubs / parties, which are resurgent and an entirely different type of experience than an app. The apps have resulted in fewer bars where singles go to find hookups / love.

@26 @30 Yass!

37

Very tacky. In the active kink community, we all depend on the discretion of others.

38

@7. Sportlandia. Mr Prig is not in the closet. Everybody in the story knows he's out before they know he eats ass at a sex club. This includes the straight friend and her gossip buddies (presumably). There's not a world of difference here between this situation and an art-world snob seen reading Jack Reacher or Danielle Steel tucked in between the pages of Artforum. Or, rather, maximising this difference tends in the direction of homophobia.

@8. LukeJosef. You're suggesting the NYC liberal woman is a 'straight', rather than a NYC liberal woman--who, even in 2001, will have an insider line on gay affectation and self-drama, and will be able to make fun of Mr Prig's peccadilloes (the priggishness) without upsetting or inconveniencing him.

39

Given that the letter was written in 2001, it's worth comparing public norms back then (pre-social media) to today. On the one hand, we have much more knowledge about the "private" and public lives of our friends and acquaintances through social media than we did in 2001.

On the other hand (or perhaps in reaction) privacy as an intentional concept is more important in 2019. I regularly have discussions with partners about what I can tell to whom. Those discussions didn't exist in 2001.

40

Most people would assume that Mr. Prig is an exhibitionist, but if he's really that priggish, and conservative, couldn't he just have a public humiliation kink? And if so, here's hoping that being seen and talked about is a secret fantasy, and not a deep fear...

41

@39 +1. Why I spend so much time at The Stranger SLLOTD comments thread - thought provoking intelligent comments. People have such different standards of privacy though, while you respect your partners' wishes others may not respect yours and with so many platforms something that previously would have only been gossiped about, can now be blabbed online and be archived forever.* Hence school teachers fired for private, legal consensual behavior. Some corners of society still judge by circa 2001 values and attitudes.

*Or instagrammed. Have seen phones in use in backrooms at Brooklyn sex parties that are "no phone zones."

42

@11. Ankyl. Maybe she tells all her friends, even people who know Mr Prig slightly or distantly, while the lw only tells one person who knows and likes the prissy guy.

@12. Corydon. The takeway from some of the comments I think I'm getting is that, in 2001, gay men didn't care about being thought trans- or gynaephobic. What reason is there to think that this straight woman is talking about Mr Prig in any way different to how a non-priggish gay guy would talk about it? That he's uptight in public, that he (possibly) affects distaste for certain sex acts or for surrendering to lust, and that--hypocritically and funnily--it turns out he rims guys at sex clubs? It is merely part of the human comedy. A nonhomophobic straight person--certainly a metropolitan liberal--and nonhomophobic gay person would understand and relish the story in just the same way.

@16. Mt. Beaver. Good idea actually to ask the actual Judith Martin!

I'm getting the idea there would be a niche for sex clubs to be run by prudes for prudes only....

@20 nocute & 31. Bi. You want Dan to have no time off (from the column) ... which, in practice, will mean less time writing books and replying to individual help-seekers one-on-one. Let the commentariat just pick over the bones of what seems a bad answer or no-longer-current one...

/break/
I think the different answers may turn on what is meant by a 'sex club'. If it's something akin to a private dungeon, I would expect the gatekeeper to be clear with any new participants what the rules of engagement are--e.g. everything inside the club stays private; consent must be verbally sought; people are understood to be voyeurs and exhibitionists, and it's incumbent, then, on anyone uncomfortable with seeing anything they're uncomfortable with to move away themselves. And so on. 'Privacy' may well be one such rule e.g. 'one of the people you may see having sex is closeted. He is the heir to a billion-dollar fortune he intends to disburse to gay-rights, public education, girls' education, sanitation and environmental causes; but a break clause in the will diverts the money to the Koch Brothers is he's a known homosexual'. Alternatively, the 'sex club' could be a commercial venue where you simply pay to get in--like a gay-scene nightclub. Given that Mr Prig was out and that he was disporting himself in public, it seems unreasonable for him not to concede that his acts would always have this public dimension.

43

Delta @36, what I meant was that someone like Mr Prig, who does not want to be outed as a pervert, could use Grindr nowadays. Someone like BM, who enjoys public sex and doesn't care who knows it, is probably still going to sex parties. Hope that clarifies my comment.

Harriet @42, no, I do not "want Dan to have no time off from the column." Where did you get that from my post @31? My only complaint about Dan's reruns is that the tagline identifying it as a rerun is at the bottom, rather than the top, of the letter. But, now that Dan has announced his one-rerun-each-week policy, when I do spot something that seems like such "vintage" Savage Love, I immediately scroll to the bottom to look for that tagline before reading the letter and response. Works for me.

44

@5 Narcing to authorities is beaten out of you by third grade but you've lost touch with the past if you think that gossiping is beaten out of you. I looked at a grade school reunion facebook thing (I didn't go, fuck grade school bullying) and immediately thought "Oh yeah Courtney, she gave a blowjob in 5th grade" and "Oh Mike, yeah, he slept with Meredith in 7th grade because his brother bought them beer" and "Oh Andrew, he wore tighty whities into 8th grade so people pantsed him on the daily". It's been 25 years, I was out of the main gossip stream, and I still know that shit.

In any work or social setting, privacy and discretion are the exception, not the rule. If you're going to do something, you should know people will talk about it. The larger question that should be asked is why does the PRIG have a different public and private persona, particularly when that private persona isn't all that private.

45

@43. Bi. I thought you were 'second[ing]' the suggestion that Dan say whether or not he endorses his original advice. It's a very good suggestion, morally--but it may not always be a practicable suggestion.

As for the indication it's a rerun being at the top ... of course it should. Maybe this is an opportunity for the brilliant artist (I can only remember the name 'Joe') to design a new 'vintage SL' font or header?

46

Regarding the move of the Rerun Indication to the bottom of the page, my theory is that it's about ad revenue. On the bottom people are probably more likely to spend time on the page and click the ads. (Not that I actually know where the ads are, since I run an ad blocker [uBlock Origin].)

47

Am i the only straight woman who was offended of the gay-guys-shouldnt-talk-with-straight-women-about-their-sex-lives rule?
Doesn't that sound to any of you as sexist and segregational and women-phobic?

48

Sex clubs are fun, but eating a strange man's ass there? Wow. Just wow.

49

@42: Harriet, I don't "want Dan to have no time off from the column"--how did you get that from my saying that I wish Dan would say whether or not he'd still give the same response to a letter from 18 years ago. I haven't objected to the re-runs (although I find it a bit of a let-down when he runs a SLLOTD as the main letter in the weekly column, as we've already discussed it, often to death--and even then, I haven't been one to criticize the rerun); I understand that we aren't owed every minute of his life.

And my suggestion wasn't meant "morally" as you decided @45. It was just based on the fact that my opinions, based on my life experience, general cultural attitudes, and further education, my often be very different today from what they were in 2001. Anyway, it wasn't a directive and I hardly expect Dan to follow it. I just thought that that kind of follow-up would be easier to obtain.

50

Harriet @45, I'll second Nocute @49 once again in stating that wondering whether Dan would write a similar reply today is not the same thing as believing he should be required to write a fresh column every day. Who knows why these particular letters are selected, or indeed who selects them. Aren't you curious?

Curious @46, I'm sure you're correct as to the reason the rerun tagline is at the bottom -- so our eyes will stay on the page longer, which will make advertisers happy. Many of us made this suggestion, and the Stranger staff haven't implemented it, so we non-paying readers have to deal.

Kat @47, I'm not straight, but as a woman I'm not offended at all by the suggestion that sharing gossip about (other) gay men outside of gay-men-world is inappropriate. In fact, if we're going there, your sense of entitlement to gay-men space strikes me as homophobic. Gay men may of course talk about their own sex lives with whomever they wish, but that's not what's happened here.

51

“ and if you don't know how recently your companion has showered, rimming is in terribly poor taste.“

Bwaahaahah...pun intended?

52

I have a good word to go with derring-do, which I shall use presently. I've had three ideas about four works of fiction.

My first thought was that LW presumably derived deep enjoyment from making this revelation. This brought to mind a contrasting pair of examples from Miss Austen and Dame Agatha. Ms Cute and some others will recall Elinor Dashwood's chastising Marianne for going all over the house at Allenham in Willoughby's company while the owner, Mrs Smith, was present and entirely unknown to Marianne. Marianne's response was that she never spent a pleasanter morning in her life. "I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety." Marianne countered that she would have known and suffered in her conscience had she been doing wrong, but a couple of exchanges later conceded that it might have been ill-judged of her. Then we go to The Hollow, and a little scene in which the kitchenmaid was being scolded by the butler and cook for going to the police with a piece of evidence instead of consulting one or the other of themselves. The resolution came when Lady Angkatell swept in and said it was quite right of the girl to tell the police, adding a sympathetic comment about how difficult it was to know the right thing to do when doing the right thing was so enjoyable; so much easier when it was distasteful.

Then I wondered about Mr Savage in 2001 and how much he enjoyed the attribution to same-sexer men of the character cited in the letter, which made me think of A Fairly Honourable Defeat (published in 1970, noted for containing one of the first mainstream in-depth and non-sensationalist examination of an MM couple) and how, before settling down to True Love and a Serious Relationship with Axel, Simon had enjoyed the SS scene of the time (deplored by the privacy-valuing Axel) and being a Silly Young Thing, thinking back on how a previous partner had called him a flibbertigibbet as he'd hung his head coyly. Ms Cute's wanting Mr Savage to accompany these old columns with at least a brief comment about how his advice would or would not have changed struck me as quite pertinent; it would be similar to an episode of Antiques Road Show that brought back previously valued items and updated the valuations.

As for LW's actual course of conduct, it seemed as if he might have wasted an opportunity. It seems highly probable that Mr Prig would have provided LW with a golden opportunity to make an open or a veiled reference to sex club conduct. My example of choice might well be the scene from the opening of the Greek portion of Shirley Valentine. Shirley was sitting on the beach, talking to a rock instead of her kitchen wall, recounting how she was on her own because Jane met a man on the flight and accepted an invitation to visit his olive grove. Shirley had gotten back to an extent by pointedly telling Jane not to worry about her at all, throwing in for good measure that she knew how hard it had been for Jane ever since her hubby had run off with the milkman, all for the edification of the third passenger in their row.

Now for the letter. It seems fair to disclose that I have some natural sympathy for Mr Prig, given that I do not disclose the nature of my specialty tastes out of a certainty that I would be mocked relentlessly to the point of driving me away. (A big WANA to those who thought it great fun to suggest that my reluctance to disclose invited the inference of paedophilia.) But, as for Mr Prig himself, I don't have any cosmic vibrations in either direction. It's cross-examination time. As M? Delta puts it, is Mr Prig merely uptight, or does he moralize? Mr Curious catches the lack of evidence from LW.

From the mid-nineties through the mid-noughts I was particularly inactive and can't really address what things were like at the time of the letter. As for an unspoken code of discretion, this situation would seem to be at best a third in that category. Where to draw the line on outing the closeted has long been a point of discussion, and there seems to be something close enough to consensus at present that homophobic televangelists and FMA-backing legislators are acceptable as outees. I've never attended specialty parties in NYC, though I know they exist, and it would be considered very bad form to reveal the specialty to outsiders. I cannot recall whether Mr Prig's activities would in 2001 have risen to the level of being that far out of the norm. Then we have business culture, which I hope Mr Curious will succeed in changing but which I fear will never change that much. Here we have the inference that LW's frequenting the sex club in question was well known, or would not have constituted a harmful discovery. We cannot say so much for Mr Prig. Of the various takes already provided, if forced to take a side, perhaps I'd select M?? Harriet's literary comparison, though perhaps changing it to Barbara Cartland, who, one may recall, was a favourite of Hyacinth Bucket's for having been honoured by Her Majesty, or perhaps Ms Erica's that, at the least, it's tacky.

I have a good deal more sympathy with Mr Don's assertion (along the second line) that the doings at such clubs should remain among SS men. I'm not sure about how to resolve the question of bi men given their female partners' agreement to their attending on condition of telling them everything that happens. I have a vibration here that LW was quite pleased that WF spread the word all around, sparing him the trouble and letting him take the posture that he never meant it to go THAT far. It reminds me a little of AFHD and how, about a third of the way through, Simon told Morgan, his brother's sister-in-law, about how he and Axel met, separately abroad on holiday, when Simon took an obsessive interest in a statue of a kouros and Axel walked in on him. Morgan later made a rhymes-with-witchy remark to Axel about the incident, causing the beginning of something that almost killed the relationship, Axel bitterly reproaching Simon, "You told that foul woman about those sacred things." That's a little more severe than the example of the letter, but the lines are parallel. The may be something of the LG/OS Divide here, as some exclusive same-sexers would prefer our sex lives to be invisible to those of the other sex. I'm not sure where M?? Harriet gets the second half of #38, as WF clearly proved herself NOT capable of making fun of Mr Prig without upsetting or inconveniencing him.

As for LW's and Mr Savage's line, I like Ms Fan's take in the middle of #31, and think that we could at least be better than that.

If this came across as particularly sour, I'm still a bit put out after hearing a leftist take on the Q** Eye programmes. Removing the difference over the current cast's apparently having expressed dislike of Sen Sanders, it was not at all surprising that Mr Brooks, the founder of Ironic Ironic Homophobia, would dislike the cast's style of humour. Mr Lech made an interesting observation about the potential utility of makeover culture to alleviate the alienation so prevalent today. Ms Peck disliked the franchise for its "outsourcing of emotional labour onto feminized folks", clearly inviting the inference that a bunch of f***s (a word she has admitted to enjoying using) making over women would strike her as totally right and proper. Even allowing the possibly sketchy point that personal appearance is a question of emotional labour, this struck me as a little off. I am not that surprised that people would miss the problem of SS men's cheerfully embracing the role of sexless eunuchs only there to serve, but I don't like outsiders' taking it upon themselves to decide that we're all "feminized folks". Those of us who are by their own choice may well cheerfully accept the label, but at least that's their own doing and not some external decree.

53

@44 Nope, that falls under the "if you're gonna talk shit you'd better do it to my face" amendment. If the gossip comes back around to you, well then, it's gone too far - Authorities be damned. Are you going to ask Courtney about that blowjob? Do you think she appreciates that you know? Did anyone have any business knowing about that? or REPEATING IT?

54

@47 it's a stupid rule - all groups of people spread rumors. LW should have been a zillion times more discreet or preferably kept his mouth shut. He can share his own sex life all he wants - but he should not be sharing others sex lives without explicit written consent.

55

Thank you, Venn @52. Although I can't follow most of your literary references, any compliment from you I take as high praise indeed. I would quibble with your equation of "feminised folks" (only Mr Van Ness strikes me as feminine) with "sexless eunuchs." Many femmes are far from sexless, and indeed, of the Fab Five the most feminine of the bunch is also the most overtly sexual. I also do think Ms Peck (a reference to whom I admit I'm oblivious) has a point about outsourcing emotional labour. The straight men made over by the Fab Five are merely shifting the responsibility from one non-straight-male demographic -- the straight women in their lives -- to a different one, rather than taking it upon themselves to sort out their own stuff. Speaking of updates, I would love to see them return to their makeover-ees a few years later to see how much of their advice has stuck.

56

I support the nocute initiative. A current updated response to an old letter would make an interesting read and likely to generate more responses as well.

Kat @ 47, BDF @ 50
The “Telling a straight woman, for example, would be out of bounds” clause in section (2) stood up for me as well. Being 2001 I assume it was based on a woman’s response, and she may not be the “straight-but-gay-friendly” LW refers to.
Being 2001 I find it condescending in the old-fashioned way, possibly sexist yet not necessarily “segregational and women-phobic.”
This could have been another interesting comparison of attitudes had we ever got an updated response.

As for disclosure in general, I don’t see a reason why one can’t talk about such experiences in a general manner with close, trusted friends. One may still describe action/s, once again- trusted friends only, yet not giving any information of any of the participants.

57

I enjoyed seeing Mr. vennominon taking a longer jaunt than usual! What an interesting mind he has; I imagine time flying bantering with him.

And yet I only have this tangent:

@52 vennominon
"business culture, which I hope Mr Curious will succeed in changing but which I fear will never change that much."

I retired this year, but even before that I never imagined I could change anything as a middle manager but by shielding those I supervised from the culture above me in every possible way I could devise. Recall that my previous discussion of this area(1) was about constraints from above; specifically the legal system. (And even the top of organizations are also constrained stockholders or voters [though usually not unfortunately by consumers]. Performance is demanded, and the market demands profit in any way not made illegal; and legislators fail pathetically in establishing a healthy playing field for the market to operate upon in the interests of society.)

(1) I imagine venn is recalling the gay manager in that letter early in the year who saw a subordinate at a club.

In this context, I think within the greater culture, business culture must be expected to lag far behind, only accepting when to not do so becomes unacceptable to judges and societal consensus. In part because the system places unhealthily amoral people at the top of organizations.

In other words, I gave it everything I had through activism inside and outside unions, but I never really thought it would change that much either.

58

I find it interesting that the only people who are saying it was fine to blab seem to be (some of the) gay men.
Since I of course have never been to a gay male sex club, the only similar experience I have to draw on is, what if I went out to the FemDom night and ran into a senior colleague who makes a big public show of his assertiveness? No doubt the temptation would be there to spill the beans. But I'd be a shitty person if I didn't resist, or at most told someone who didn't personally know my colleague, and kept his identity to myself. BM is quite hypocritical when he refers to the childish squabbling that's resulted over his extremely childish decision to share the information in the first place, and presumably not swear his confidante to secrecy -- why wouldn't she have dished this dirt with as much gusto as he did? I agree with CMD: If BM had kept this guy's identity secret, he would have done nothing wrong in talking to his (gasp! straight! gasp! female!) friend about what he saw at the sex club.

59

Some time has elapsed since this was first published. I wonder if Miss Manners was ever courteous enough to have replied to Dan.

60

Cdm @ 56, BDF @ 50
Ok, lets hear how another phrase sounds: "telling a black man, for example, would be out of bounds".
Does that sound good to you?
Do you feel that its just entitlement if that black man feels excluded and offended?
Would you accuse him of being white-phobic?

61

@47. kat. I said just the same thing in comment 42, but as I am neither straight nor a ciswoman, you may not have picked it up. If the blabbering woman friend is talking to people who could cause the priggish guy serious distress--harm his career, threaten his source of income, shame him with older relatives--then she should have kept her mouth shut. Otherwise you're right.

The counterclaim--that women have no part of gay-only spaces--overlooks the female-identified, transfeminine and en femme queers, looking for gay sex, that have always been part of such spaces. It wasn't such a quantum leap for me (in the previous century) to go from presenting as effeminate to going partly or creatively en femme to gay haunts. Anyone there who thought I was e.g. 'pretending to be a woman', rather than in some fuller sense female-identified, would have been mildly gynaephobic.

@49. Nocute. By 'morally' I just meant you could be right in principle but have proposed something unworkable in practice. (Which I guess might be so). The whole rationale for reruns is surely to have a stopgap which does not require Dan's attention to any degree.

62

Kat @ 60
I would consider the not telling straight women line as something they would rather not here in the first place. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also suggested by a woman back then.
I can see it as patronizing, though probably not racist nor phobic.

For good or bad, bringing up the club activity nowadays can come across as way TMI, possibly also causing trouble in the work place.

63

here, HEAR

64

@47. kat. I said just the same thing in comment 42, but as I am neither straight nor a ciswoman, you may not have picked it up. If the blabbering woman friend is talking to people who could cause the priggish guy serious distress--harm his career, threaten his source of income, shame him with older relatives--then she should have kept her mouth shut. Otherwise you're right.

The counterclaim--that women have no part of gay-only spaces--overlooks the female-identified, transfeminine and en femme queers, looking for gay sex, that have always been part of such spaces. It wasn't such a quantum leap for me (in the previous century) to go from presenting as effeminate to going partly or creatively en femme to gay haunts. Anyone there who thought I was e.g. 'pretending to be a woman', rather than in some fuller sense female-identified, would have been mildly gynaephobic.

@49. Nocute. By 'morally' I just meant you could be right in principle but have proposed something unworkable in practice. (Which I guess might be so). The whole rationale for reruns is surely to have a stopgap which does not require Dan's attention to any degree.

65

I did an essay in a sociology class at uni about forms of gossip, and how important they can be to the social group.
This was malicious gossip though from the LW, so his motivation was to be nasty. And look where it got him and his friends.

66

Whatever happened to saying "sorry I hurt your feelings" when you piss a friend off? People can't help how they feel, and I don't see why LW can't promise to keep his friend's sex life discreet in the future. It's not wrong to talk about the interesting things you notice, but I think it's wrong to act uncaring that a friend is in some sort of distress, esp something so easy to alleviate. Calling him a prig and insensitive and unreasonable instead of trying to get along with his friend seems to be the mistake, to me.

Trying to make up new etiquette rules just to impose them on other people also seems to be a mistake.

I hope Dan feels better soon. And happy birthday, it's somewhere around here..

67

@67: "the gay-guys-shouldnt-talk-with-straight-women-about-their-sex-lives rule"

It's not really that, but more of a "gay guys shouldn't talk with OUTSIDERS about EACH OTHER'S sex lives" rule. The way you formulate it makes it sound like the LW warned against discussing one's own sex life with a straight woman, which isn't so. This is about whether it's appropriate to discuss what happens at a specifically gay male sex club with people who can't/shouldn't/don't go to that club.

It's not hard to see why a straight woman is the go-to example, because -- sticking to cisgendered, non-bi folks to keep things simple -- the reality is that a straight woman is more likely to be a confidant to the average gay man than a straight man is, and probably more likely than a lesbian woman is (if only because there are more straight women).

And yeah, gay men are allowed to have gay-male-only spaces, discussions, whatever they want. They're every bit as entitled to do that as lesbian women are, and have a right to ask that what goes on in those spaces is kept within the community.

Whether it's realistic to expect that request to be honored -- or whether they can meaningfully claim injury if it's not -- is another thing entirely. But at least the blabbermouth can be excluded from future events.

68

Ugh, I meant @47, of course...

69

@66~ According to our friend, Google,
Daniel Keenan Savage (born October 7, 1964) is an American author, media pundit, journalist, and LGBT community activist. He writes Savage Love, an internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column.
Happy belated birthday, Dan!

70

As a straight cis woman, I take no offence in being left off the gossip tree.
Not a visual that grabs me, and then Dan brought attention to the image perhaps including an unwashed arse.

71

Kat @60, the issue is that you are analoguing yourself to the black man in this challenge, when really you are analogous to the white man. You're seeing it as (privileged) men versus (non-privileged) women rather than (non-privileged) queers versus (privileged) straights. You're the white guy here. And you're the one who asked the question, are other women offended; the answer seems to be no, which should settle this issue. Straight people don't get to be included by default in everything. Get over it.

Lava @65/Philo @66, agree. This guy no doubt revels in the "catty queen" stereotype and does not see that he has hurt someone with his malicious gossip. If karma exists, it surely came back to bite him on the ass.

72

@55. Venn. Barbara Cartland is better than what I said. I couldn't think of something ripe, ridiculous yet plausible for a gay intellectual round the turn of the century.

My concern (almost an obsessive or overriding concern) with any 'Medicare for All' is with the basis on which it makes gender-confirmation surgery available. Will it--that is, will the socialists make it, will the people urge it to--be as available (as universally) as IVF for ciswomen looking to conceive? As quality-of-life medication for chronic cancer patients? I'd think there is less of a guarantee with 'the people' as arbiters than with experts. This, it seems to me, is comparable to things you've said about a relatively undifferentiated, rather than a coalitional, socialism. I agree about Queer Eye and the acceptability of its 'helpful eunuchs'.

73

Thanks Donny. I guess better late than never.

Hi BDF, yes it's as sad to me as an bulimic woman. It's not about what other people think, it's about what you feel, and some compassion for others' pain and happiness.

Harriet, whether health insurance is private or state run, the standards will change over time. I'm not sure privately run insurance involves very direct competition or would change standards faster, as people generally take what their employer offers.

74

I just say, you are either not allowed to discuss who you saw in a sex-club with anyone who wasn't there, or a regular member, OR you are allowed to discuss it with friends regardless of their gender and sexual affiliations.

The club is described as semi-private (and that means limited expectations of privacy) and that's the only reason i can understand Dan's advice.
If the club was private the advice would be offensively wrong too.

In a private club unless there is a real strong reason that Prigs hypocrisy trumps his privacy (for example if he is a politician advocating strict morals and passing laws) i say keep his privacy.

@ harriet
you are right, somehow i didn't even see your comment

@yutteby
I dont necessarily disagree with you

@bdf at 72
You keep missing the point. ANY group excluded as a whole from anything is highly problematic.

75

@ yuterby
sorry for messing your name up. not on purpose.

76

Kat @74, you can't agree with Ytterby @67 (third time's a charm) and not agree with me. Ytterby said it better, is all.

77

Mr Curious - I'm sorry I wasn't able to lead your thoughts in a happier direction.

I think, even before I saw the serious advice that everyone have a scrupulously bland social media presence for public consumption presented as sound corporate strategy, I'd already decided that having been drummed out of corporate culture was surely a personal net plus, but that may well have been the final nail in the coffin.

78

Ms Fan - Ms Kat makes my point for me that the LG are largely incompatible with the modern left, or at least the modern uberleft. We're way too discriminatory. It might be entertaining to see if she would be equally distressed by the exclusion of straight men from SS women's spaces or how she'd wriggle around that gate (Ms Cute will recall Henry Crawford and the Miss Bertrams when Mr Rushworth forgot to bring the key), but I'm a little too concerned about [ANY group excluded as a whole from anything is highly problematic.] and its ramifications if that sort of thinking gains majority influence in the corridors of power to care much for entertainment. The black man analogy doesn't work for another reason as well as yours; even if a particular exclusive same-sexer white male would rule out a black partner, he would know that that would not apply to all or even (I write this hopefully) most of the others.

M?? Harriet - If you were female-identified, you might have been looking for MM-coded sex, but even Mr Savage wouldn't call what you were seeking gay. And the "en femmes" were far more common in mixed spaces (and certainly not omnipresent) in my experience, but you appear to have lived a far more cosmopolitan existence than I. At least you aren't making me feel like Fanny Price.

Ms Phile - Assuming facts not in evidence? LW calls Ms Blabber straight-but-gay-friendly, but the word "friend" does not appear in the letter. Perhaps that's rather the point.

79

@73. Philophile. With gender-confirmation surgery, you have little choice but to take what your HMO gives you. Or take it or leave it. It's sometimes a short-notice phallectomy--and if you're not going to do that, you're not going to get help with top surgery or a tracheal shave, say. It's the commercial version of what the DSM gave us in the 60s and 70s--gender dysphoria has to be total; it has to be thoroughly self-hating and miserable; only the most drastic surgical interventions can make people viable; there are no in-between states, there's no genderqueer. And there are still people who think those without the 100-150k to spend on confirmation aren't women.

In principle I believe in socialised medicine, like in Britain. I don't think coverage is consistent there, because of differences in how efficiently local hospital trusts are run. The system should also maybe be supplemented by private insurance for richer people who want to take out more preventative care.

80

@78. Venn. As I recall, you dressed for the scene you were going to. Much as I like leathermen, my ordinary demeanor wouldn't have been a fit for those events--and in this way, cultural and subcultural gaps spring up between members of subgroups. At the same time, there always tends to be a direction to one's self-presentation--mine being to wear more vintage prints etc., and this tends to be irrepressible, even if it leads to people sticking out or flouting dress codes.

81

But did you ever hear from Miss Manners?!?!

82

M?? Harriet - You're making me think of The Body in the Library, and Miss Marple's certainty that the victim's dress didn't fit the narrative of the murder (a young dance hostess would not wear an old dress if she went sneaking away from her duties to meet a man).

Lucky me, I missed almost all the dress code bit.

83

Assuming the LW himself wasn't indiscriminately spreading this gossip, LW's mistake was not to share a confidence with a straight (woman) friend. We all should have intimate friends with whom we can share this kind of observation, and their gender or orientation should not matter. The mistake was to share it with a blabbermouth friend. Having shared confidences with "friends" who turned out to be blabbermouths, I have some sympathy for the LW's dilemma. The right answer (which Dan missed somehow) is to Dump The Motherfucking Friend.

84

Mr Balls - That would be the answer if the blabbing were a bug rather than a feature.

85

Wow - that was Dan at his prissyest. As a gay man who's been around a few decades, no, it's not cool to gossip to outsiders about someone else's activities at a gay safe space, no matter how obnoxious that person may be socially. No, you don't talk about your gay friends and acquaintances' sex lives with non-gay people.

The only exception is the hypocrisy rule, but the LW does not say what he means when he calls the guy an "uptight gay prig". Does he sound like Dan when he's talking about men who like casual sex? Or is he just quiet about his own sex life? If you're vocally anti-sex-club, for example, and you vocally trash other people for going to sex clubs - you can legitimately be challenged with your own sex-club habits when you get on your soap box.

If Dan, for example, has ever gone to a sex club and gotten off, his remarks on this letter could be legitimately challenged with that fact.

86

With the facts (or "facts") in evidence:

1) Mr. Prig had no reason to expect privacy at a club open to the public where literally anyone (over age 18/21?) could, in theory, walk in and see him (and a particular someone whom he didn't want seeing him, or at least didn't want sharing his, LW's, own experience of seeing him, Mr. Prig, with anyone else, did so). Indeed, it sounds like part of the point is that the sex Mr. Prig was having was semi-public, else he could presumably have recruited some men at a bar or even that very club to have a PRIVATE sex party that LW would not have been able to stumble upon. So, no reasonable expectation of privacy means no reasonable expectation of discretion. You can't eat your cake then reasonably expect to still have it (at least not in an appetizing cake-like form).

2) LW was deriving malicious joy from gossipping; he's an asshole, but not the only one in this story.

3) Ms. Straight demonstrated less discretion than LW; LW told one person, while she told many.

4) Mr. Reagan did little to help the gays and much to harm the gays, to put it mildly, but one particular gay man might have been aided by his English translation of the Russian maxim, "Trust, but verify," had he applied it to his assumption that his fellow sex club patrons subscribed to his preferred norms of discretion.

5) Assume that, at the very least, people with whom you have sex talk about that sex with other people. Your partnered sex life is not private; if everyone is exercising good judgment, details will only be known by a small web of mutually trusted people, and many details will only be known by those invoved, but, sadly all people don't exercise good judgment all the time. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as privacy regarding behavior that involves another person, and the degree of privacy drops exponentially for every additional person who is involved or otherwise witnesses the behavior. So, fuck with that in mind if you care about others knowing the specifics of your fucking.

The problem for humans is that we have competing desires. We* want (to an extent that feels like a life-or-death need; this is a powerful evolved cooperation incentive) social vidation from other humans, and the necessary sociality requires sacrificing privacy (which we want because other humans are dangerous monsters who might harm us and are therefore not to be trusted). So we have to work out a balance as best we can, which we generally do haphazardly and implicitly based on strategies that are personally more or less successful as we have more and more social interactions in our early lives. If you can understand and make peace with your competing impulses, it might help you be more intentional about your own balance between sociality and privacy, it might help you form more realistic expectations of other people's preferences and behaviors, and it might help you be more forgiving in cases where people don't meet your expections, or at least figure out more successful strategies for mitigating possible harm (e.g. it's difficult to convince someone else that zir preferences and norms are WRONG and yours are RIGHT in order to have that person automagically do what you want all the time; instead, things like boundaries and explicit community norms - rules and laws to which everyone knowingly agrees - are more helpful).

*Excepting some minority neurotypes and brain damage, which often result in sociopathic behavior due to the failure to incentivize cooperation. It IS possible to derive objective reasons that cooperation is beneficial in human societies from observation, without the intrinsic motivators, it's just difficult to avoid ostracism until one's reasoning abilities have developed enough and one has sufficient experience to do so, and it's still difficult to curb impulsive antisocial behavior, which isn't reasoned behavior by definition and relies on equally impulsive, unreasoned pro-social motivators to counteract it, which are lacking in this example. The social brain structures also shut down when a human experiences high levels of stress (blood flow is directed to other areas; this functions to allow structures concerned with the immediate survival of the individual organism to use more energy until the threat triggering the stress response is gone), which is why people are more irritable and selfish and impulsive (thus more prone to violence) when threatened or steessed - our brains are temporarily more like those of psychopaths, and it's physiologically more difficult to exercise empathy and self control.