Q: I have a problem with my happiness; he is a wonderful man who has a beauty that overwhelms me; we have a beautiful home; I am monogamous for the first time in a decade. But I just learned that I am the spitting image of a man in jail for raping my boyfriend.
He says he is not in a place to dig up his emotions about the subject and wants to hold off on sex — fine by me. I admire him and his courage to be with me despite my appearance. I still love him, but I feel like there is something I could do to help him, to help us. So I guess I am asking for suggestions. —Asking Not Beggin
A: First Impression: Verify his story.If you have a stunt double out there rotting in jail somewhere for raping your Wonder Boyfriend, ANB, then there are police reports and trial transcripts and a mug shot that looks just like you. Go find 'em.
I'm an asshole, of course, for casting doubt on your beautiful boyfriend's dramatic explanation for why his wonderfulness can't have sex with you right now — or ever, potentially, since he's "not in a place to dig up his emotions" and wants to "hold off" on sex. But cast I must, ANB, because one of two things is going on. Either your boyfriend is making this rape story up or he failed to share hugely pertinent info with you before moving in. Whichever it is, ANB, your boyfriend is at fault.
Why would he make it up? Well, it could be that he's not attracted to you, ANB, and manipulating you with a victim story allows him to reap the rewards of being with you while earning him a "Get Out of Fucking You Free" card.
If the story checks out — if you find that mug shot — then your boyfriend has my sympathies. But if he wasn't ready to resume his romantic and sexual life, ANB, he had no right to be out there dating anyone, least of all a man who looks exactly like his rapist. When we date, ANB, we're telling people that we're in a place where we're ready for love, romance and sex. If we're not, we have no business dating anyone seriously. Period. At the very least, the onus was on him to disclose this information — his rape, your resemblance to his rapist — before moving in, not after.
And finally: If you're not having sex with your boyfriend, or anyone else, and there's no sex in your foreseeable future, ANB, that's not monogamy — that's celibacy.
Q: I am a high-functioning regular heroin user (not quite an addict), and I feel constantly compelled to hide my drug use. I feel that there are similarities between being a drug user and having an alternate sexual orientation in the sense that both users and gays are constantly confronting judgmental opposition from an ill-informed and puritanical American public. I wonder whether you have any thoughts on this matter. Do you believe that drug users are deserving of the same kind of empowerment and liberation as gays, or do you view drug use as a "disease" that needs to be "cured" the same way that the Carrie Prejeans of the world believe gays need to be "cured"?
I realize that one significant difference between heroin use and sexual tastes is that heroin use is illegal, but of course gay relationships were illegal until relatively recently. Am I just rationalizing? Or could drug use be the next civil-rights frontier? —Dude Requests Understanding Gay Sensibility
A: Uu...gee.I don't believe that all drug use is abuse, and I believe that recreational drugs can be used responsibly. And I believe a person should be able to use a drug regularly without being labeled — by himself, by others, by court order — an "addict." I also wish that more people were open about their drug use — but, in the hypocritical fashion of most Americans, only when we're talking about drugs that I like and have used myself, e.g., caffeine, sugar, pot, and my boyfriend's pheromones.
Recreational heroin? Heroin seems kind of extreme, DRUGS, as recreational drugs go. I've known a few people who've self-medicated with heroin and functioned well enough to get by — just — and I think that all drugs should be legal, your drug of choice included. We need to end the war on drugs, a failure and a waste of money and lives. And the quickest way to end it is for successful drug users — people like you, me, Michael Phelps and the president of the United States of America — to be open about our past, present and future drug use. But I don't think "drug user" is an identity that's really comparable to sexual orientation. Using drugs is something you do, DRUGS, it's not something you are.
Look at it this way: If you stopped doing drugs today, DRUGS, you'd no longer be a drug user. If I stopped inhaling my boyfriend's pheromones — and cock — today, DRUGS, I'd still be a big homo. Because gay is like Cats ("now and forever"), while heroin is like Twitter (fun at first, sure, but you'll regret it one day). See the difference?
But, yeah, the freedom to use drugs can certainly be viewed as a civil rights issue: It's about the right to control what you do with your own body, and that argument resonates with others advanced by gay-rights advocates and advocates of reproductive choice. But different drugs carry different risks — risks of harm, risks of overdose, risks of death — and, legal or not, heroin is a highly dangerous drug. It's a drug that's made more dangerous by its prohibition, sure, but it's dangerous even when it's pure. But I think you have a right to use it, if you want to use it, and that you should have access to safe, medical-grade heroin and clean needles. But I don't think you should use it, not when there are other, better, safer drugs available.
Like my boyfriend's pheromones.
Q: I like that you told PILL, the teenage girl who didn't like the pill and whose boyfriend "doesn't like" condoms, to "enjoy outercourse — oral, masturbation, and sex toys — and tell your boyfriend that these aren't consolation prizes for teenagers, but honest-to-God sex acts that adults enjoy." But I wish that you had mentioned all the other kinds of birth control out there. There's the Depo-Provera shot, the patch, the implant, the ring (which is very low dose and which many women prefer to the pill), IUDs (both with and without hormones) and cervical caps that can be used with spermicide. Also, there are many kinds of pills (from low- to high-dose, mini-pills, various hormone combos, etc.), and PILL should talk to a professional about which pills she was on and the specific things she didn't like about them.
Some are much more effective than others, there are serious cost barriers to some of these if they're not covered by insurance, and there can be side effects to any sort of hormonal birth control, but it's good to be aware that they exist.
I also had awful experiences with hormonal pills, and it took years until I finally got a great doctor who took the time to explain all my options — and there are so many! I now have a nonhormonal IUD; it is fantastic, and I am grateful for my doctor's advice. There's a great "birth control effectiveness chart" at Planned Parenthood's website (plannedparenthood.org). —Been There, Done That
A: THANKS FOR sharing, BTDT.Download the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage. Send letters to email@example.com
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