Why you should care
OZY’s Eugene S. Robinson addresses queries from the love-weary in “Sex With Eugene.”
How Gay Is Gay?
EUGENE, SIR: I like having sex with other men, specifically heterosexual men. A friend has told me that if I’m having sex with heterosexual men, then they’re not heterosexual. I think if a man has never had sex with another man before, then he’s heterosexual. What do you think? — Joey
Dear Dr. J: I could get into the whole Masters and Johnson take on the sometimes fungible nature of sexual identification, but then I’d have to also get into their belief in the “science” of gay conversion therapy, as well as some of the more questionable narratives in their history as sex and medical researchers. So I won’t. Instead, I’ll bid them adieu while acknowledging that at the very least Masters and Johnson were responsible for some serious thought directed toward our most enduring and existential efforts to discuss coitus without snickering like 12-year-olds.
That being said, if there were fewer social sanctions against male homosexuality we’d probably see more of it as men developing sexual identities figured out the parameters of those identities. That’s leading me to sort of agree with you: If a man who has never slept with another man before sleeps with one once and then returns to exclusively having sex with women, that guy is very possibly “heterosexual.” Even if the fact of him having sex with a man argues against him being exclusively heterosexual.
If that strengthens your belief that, like Kurt Cobain once sang, “everyone is gay,” I’d have to say that that’s probably not correct. I mean, lots of people like lots of different things, but usually we find these generalities — gay, straight, bi, bi-curious — useful as identifiers because they’re shorthand that makes getting through the day a little easier.
You might also want to ask yourself whether your desire to have sex with men who are not “homosexual” is a product of some form of self-hate. Not for you to answer here, or for me to try to answer for you. Just something to think about. Which I guess is why you were asking me in the first place.
The Medical Community Bites Back
EUGENE, SIR: In last week’s column [“How Your Butt Is Touched vs. Who Touches It: Discuss”], your answer to the man asking about HPV wasn’t quite accurate. I know this because I’m a doctor. I also know you’re not a doctor. You do a good job of directing people to real ones, but I didn’t want to let this go without some information that could actually help folks.
HSV, or the herpes simplex virus, is what everybody excepting nuns and virgins could get. HPV, human papillomavirus, is sexually transmitted and is the cause of cervical cancer. Although as many as 25 percent of people test positive for HPV, many never have a visible manifestation of infection. I understand what led you to the belief that this was a nothing burger — the lack of symptoms — but as I loudly and annoyingly repeated during medical school, residency and private practice: Cervical carcinoma looks exactly like HPV infection under a microscope, and subsequently the cause of cervical cancer has been determined to be overwhelmingly HPV infection.
Sadly, this, like so many things in the sex game, turns out to be mostly a women’s problem since men don’t seem to die from HPV-related cancer. Men, however, do see their female loved ones die from cervical cancer. That reality is being increasingly stressed in the education of young people regarding the very safe and effective vaccine. Which everyone should get. Even nuns. — The Doc
Dear Wot’s Up: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Really.
EUGENE, SIR: My ex and my current boyfriend used to be friends. Fortunately, we don’t have to socialize with each other often, and when we do it’s in a professional context (we’re all in the same business). My ex and my current are physically very different, but rather than that making them more comfortable with how things turned out, they seem to be competing with each other sexually. This is weird and not cool. Outside of switching professions, is there any way you can think of to change this dynamic? — Name withheld by request
Dear Betwixt a Rock + a Hard Place: I have scant information outside of what you’ve told me, but like Pascal’s wager, let’s break it down. If the ex is more handsome than the current boyfriend, the current will assume a whole array of things that may not be correct. For example, that your ex was also better in bed. The current should process that it may not be so much that the ex was better in bed but rather that the ex himself was not good enough.
If the ex is less handsome than the current, the current will assume this is the natural order of things. Of course, this may also make him feel like he’s doing you a favor, which might be sexually destabilizing.
In the first case, to upend the dynamic? Dump the current, stop speaking to the ex, find someone sane. And sexy.
In the second case? Dump the current, stop speaking to the ex, find someone sane. And sexy.
While sane and sexy don’t aways go together, it’s a good sight better than being stuck in some version of 12th grade, which is where you seem to be now. Until then? Good luck finding an adult male who is perfectly comfortable in the here and now.