A fetish that takes balls

Q: I know this is a little late, but I want to complain about watching Brokeback Mountain in a theater full of gay people.

My wife and I went to a screening in L.A. The place was packed. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the other people there were gay men. They laughed throughout the whole movie! The more poignant parts of the movie absolutely brought the house down. Especially the scene where Jake and Ennis first reunite and are caught kissing by Michelle Williams. The whole theater just thought that was fucking hilarious. They couldn't stop laughing as Ennis rushed around gathering up clothes and his wife choked back tears.

As you know, the whole movie is about these two guys who are repressed homosexuals. Every time one of the actors allowed that tension to show on his face, the queers in the audience found it hysterical. My hypothesis is that these incidents remind gay people of their own coming-out process, and therefore struck them as ridiculous and childish, since they themselves had gotten over those hang-ups long ago. Nevertheless, they seemed to display a real lack of empathy for the characters.

Or maybe it was nervous laughter, because the effect of the movie was more pronounced on the gay audience members than it likely was on me? —Anonymous Straight Into Film

A: Or maybe, ASIF, Jack and Ennis' predicament seems faintly ridiculous to liberated gay men who, naturally enough, regard the Tortured Homo Routine — from Giovanni's Room to Fame to Brokeback Mountain — as more laughable than tragic. Or maybe you had the misfortune of seeing Brokeback in a room full of vapid L.A. faggots who wouldn't know an honest emotion if it blew a three-day load down their throats.

Oh, and speaking of tortured homos ...

I've been getting a lot of mail about a disturbing news story out of the American South. Three men were arrested last week in rural North Carolina and charged with castrating willing victims in their dungeon. "Richard Sciara, 61, Danny Reeves, 49, and Michael Mendez, 60," according to one report, "admitted performing at least eight surgeries, including castrations and testicle replacements, on six consenting clients over the past year. None of the three is licensed to practice medicine, officials said. ... Each man faces 10 felony counts — five each of castration without malice and conspiracy to commit castration without malice — as well as eight misdemeanor counts of performing medical acts without a license."

Yeesh. While I'm constantly coming to the defense of BDSMers in Savage Love — "so long as everything's safe, sane and consensual, it's nobody's business," "they're not hurting anyone that doesn't want to be hurt" and, um, "some of my best friends are ..." — I can't defend castration, whether it's being done with malice or the best of intentions.

For the record: There are some men out there who want to have their balls cut off. Some of these men are into BDSM, some aren't. For a guy turned on by castration, offering up his nuts is the ultimate act of sexual surrender. The vast majority of men turned on by castration don't go through with it, as they get their kicks by anticipating and fearing castration. They may act out castration scenarios with partners who threaten to cut their balls off, but these men are aware that they have to keep their balls if they want to continue enjoying their extreme fantasies.

There are also men who want to be castrated because they are tormented by sexual desires that repulse them. Men who are pedophiles or rapists, for instance, have opted for surgical castration. These men are not castration fetishists but castration realists who have taken radical steps to "solve" their sexual problems.

But some castration fetishists, as we've seen in North Carolina, actually do have their balls cut off. While I believe that folks have a right to do what they like with their own bodies, I don't think a castration fetish is a desire that should be indulged — and certainly not by a non-medical professional winging it in a dungeon in Bumfuck, N.C. Castration cannot be regarded as safe or sane, and even if someone agrees to it — heck, even if they long for it — castration is so extreme that consent to castration has to be regarded as evidence of a man being of unsound mind, and therefore incapable of giving his consent, at least until a qualified shrink and licensed doc determine otherwise.


Q: I have a hard time believing that a cynical guy like you doesn't occasionally see some actor on TV yammering about his politics and think, "Stick to what you're good at and shut the fuck up about politics." You're becoming that actor. I don't give a fuck about your politics, and I don't want to read about them every time I look at Savage Love. —Keep It To Yourself

A: You can't write about sex and avoid politics — not in America, at any rate, and now, thanks to Steven Harper's minority government, not in Canada either. Believe me, KITY, I would love to see sex and politics decoupled, but your fellow conservatives — actually, wait. Why should I come to my own defense when a genuine New York Jew wants to do the job?


Q: I have a comment for these people who write in to tell you to keep out of politics and "stick with dicks." Basically, fuck them. How can one possibly separate politics from sexuality today? There is a battle being waged for the heart and soul of this country and this conflict involves issues on which you are something of an expert: young people and safer sex; the prevention of disease; homosexuality; and the incredibly important question of reproductive rights. So, keep up the good work, Dan. And let me say once again: Fuck them! —New York Jew Commie Bastard

A: Thank you, NYJCB. And to close this week's column, a little bidness to attend to ...

Some trannies, she-males, lady-boys, ex-men and the men who love them were upset about last week's column. You can read their thoughts by going to www.metrotimes.com/savage.


Straight Rights Update: Black Jack, Mo., is currently deciding whether or not it will issue an occupancy permit to an unmarried straight couple with three kids. Currently the couple does meet Black Jack's definition of "family," and they've already been denied their occupancy permit once. If the city decides to deny them an occupancy permit, the couple will have to move or marry under duress. So let's just add forced marriages to that long list of right-wing assaults on heterosexual freedom, shall we?

And to Mike C., who wrote in a few weeks ago to tell me that he was glad that conservatives he voted for were running the world and not perverts like me: Brian J. Doyle, deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was arrested last week for soliciting sex from someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. Hm ... is a malicious castration in order?

And, finally: Over at itmfa.com — a Web site I created specifically to keep my latest political obsession from taking over Savage Love, KITY — we've sold more than $8,000 worth of ITMFA buttons and pins in the last week and a half. I'd like to break $10,000 (all profits go to the ACLU), and I can with your help — and with the help of President Bush who, as it turns out, "authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq," according to the Associated Press. To which I say, ITMFA!

Send comments to [email protected]

About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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