I began reading "Savage Love" at the young, impressionable age of 13. At the age of 13, I could comprehend the concept that humans are not only attracted to opposite-sex humans, but can and are attracted to a very broad spectrum that defies being limited to a fixed number of categories. Reading "Savage Love," I saw examples of normal heterosexual activity, alternative heterosexual activity, homosexual activity, alternative homosexual activity, very alternative homosexual activity, freaky and kinky heterosexual activity, transgender topics—pretty much everything on the large spectrum of sexual and romantic actions and attractions. It was an adventure to say the least.
I must concede however, I did not like your attitude or approach. Raised a Catholic, I had core values that you broke and encouraged other people to break. I had no disdain or judgement towards people not of heterosexual orientation; however, I was not fond of the idea that so many people did things against my core Catholic values, and was possibly angry but intrigued by what you said to these people who contacted you with their intimate stories of their love lives.
If you have continued reading at this point I thank you, because up until this line of text it seems as if I am telling you my life views and then expressing my distaste for your opinion, but really this is so much more.
Last weekend, I was at a party at my university. To preface this, I feel it appropriate to state that I consider myself straight, and have only been attracted to women for my whole romantically-active life. This last weekend, I met someone. A boy. I ran into him and struck up a conversation, about who knows what, and continued to talk through the night. He was perfect. His physical appearance, his personality, his mannerisms, his voice, everything made my heart melt. And with an instance of him close to my face, I blushed, and my heart stopped while I basked in the radiant glow of his face. We are currently still getting to know each other, but I now see him as the first guy to ever make me swoon, the first guy who I would love to hook up with (and lucky for me this boy is gay). I am not attracted to males. I do not find the idea of another male caressing my body and kissing me to be pleasant, it actually makes me cringe (however I am glad other men find solace in these actions). I have never looked at a male and thought that I would love to pull my sweater over my head to expose myself to him. But, for me, this boy does it.
The day after meeting him, I felt scared. I have no problem with homosexuality, but the fact that I was experiencing same-sex attraction was new and frightening. I didn't and am still not sure how to handle these feelings. All I want to do right now is get him into my bed (maybe just for cuddling), and the next party may be my chance. I have confided this in one friend so far, who has been very supportive, and has reassured me that these feelings are fine, and I am not crazy. (But I may be crazy about this boy.) And however scared or confused I may be about these feelings, I have to say this: Thank you, Dan. Thanks to you and the exposure I got on the Internet to diverse sorts of communities, I do not feel completely terrible. I understand sexuality as a continuum with no limiting barriers that can cast me into any label of straight, bi, gay, or anything else. That may be what I fear most. I just want to hook up with a guy and then resume my life and date women with no stigma attached to me and without any limits being put on the heterosexual dating game. Labels are necessary for the sake of discussion and consideration, but for the most part labels are bullshit. They mean nothing. I feel like I can explore my feelings without having to be labeled as gay or bisexual, and although I am indeed confused, I am okay with the idea of me liking this one boy. Thanks to you, I feel okay.
Thank you for making me feel normal and helping me know that liking this boy means nothing. I like this boy, and whether or not I, in the future, may come to have feelings for another guy is irrelevant. You helped me to never demonize sexuality and romance, and I feel like a better person for it. Continue to do the work you do, because I'm sure every other day there is another man, young or old, who may just find the perfect guy, even when they have only ever had heterosexual feelings. Thank you, and if you have advice, any is appreciated.
One Hot Boy, Oh Yes
Your letter was epic, OHBOY, my response will be less so. Because you didn't ask for advice and I don't have much to say to you—except "you're welcome," of course, and I'm glad my column helped you out. Also: I hope you have fun with this boy, please be safe, do send pics, etc.
But I'll add this: labels are not bullshit. Refusing to label yourself isn't a high-minded act of consciousness objection. You're not resisting a fascistic labeling regime here. You're not even not labeling yourself. Straight is the default label. A guy who refuses to actively apply the labels "gay" or "bi" to himself isn't avoiding labels. He's passively allowing the "straight" label to be applied to him. And that's clearly what you want. And, hey, you may actually be straight. This beautiful boy may be the lone exception, i.e. the one and only guy for whom you will ever wanna remove the shit out of your sweater. I'm not taking issue with your sexuality or your sexual identity here, OHBOY, I'm merely taking issue with your shallow take on the importance of labels to people who are not straight and do not wish to be perceived as straight.
It's like this: People who claim labels are unimportant are either straight, which makes the default label accurate, or they're gay or bi but wish to remain closeted (perhaps because of the "stigma"), which makes the default label convenient.
So rejecting labels isn't brave and it isn't interesting—it's not even a rejection of labels.