I'm a gay man who has been seeing a devout Christian gay guy. We have many of the same interests and respect each other's feelings and beliefs. However, I am not that religious, and he is an Orthodox Christian.
Some of his friends oppose gay marriage and think that being gay is immoral. Since I am not a devout Christian, his friends say we should not get married. Other friends say God does not love him because he is gay.
Sadly, he sometimes thinks that God really does hate him. I try to reassure him, but he feels this way because of what his "good friends" say. I think he should dump these assholes.
Is our relationship going to work? Should he dump these bigots?
Devoutly Gay Washingtonian
We've had all sorts of guest experts in the column over the years: sex researchers, sex workers, medical doctors, academics, marriage activists, trans activists and on and on. But this week's guest expert is a first.
"As a Bishop of the Church, first let me say that I am convinced that God loves DGW's boyfriend, loves DGW, loves me, loves all of us beyond our wildest imagining," said the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop (Retired) of New Hampshire, the first openly gay priest to be elected bishop in a major Christian denomination. (Bishop Robinson is the first member of the historical episcopate — the first in the Apostolic Succession stretching back to Saint Peter — to appear as a guest expert here.) I asked Bishop Robinson to look at your question, because I thought the advice of a fellow believer might carry more weight with your boyfriend than the advice of an atheistic twatsquat like me.
"This young man faces a couple of problems — one that touches on religion and one that touches on what it means to be in a healthy relationship," said Bishop Robinson. "His boyfriend seems wed to a religion and to friends who espouse the Church's traditional teaching condemning homosexuality. The most alarming thing he said is that his boyfriend is listening to them. Surely this must cause him a great deal of pain."
But it's pain your boyfriend no longer has to endure.
"The Church has gotten things wrong before — support for slavery, and using scripture to denigrate and subjugate women — and we are living in a time when the Church is realizing it has also gotten it wrong about LGBT people," said Bishop Robinson. "Today, there are oases of acceptance and inclusion even in the most oppressive and condemning churches. If DGW's boyfriend wants to understand how one can read the Scriptures and believe that homosexuality is part of God's wonderful plan of diversity, he can find such a church, even in a faith that officially condemns LGBT people. But this is work he needs to do for himself. DGW can't do it for him."
As for your relationship, DGW, Bishop Robinson agrees that your boyfriend's inability to break from his friends is a bad sign.
"If DGW's boyfriend is listening to the condemnation of his Church and his friends, it makes me wonder how much joy he can take in their relationship," said Bishop Robinson. "How free is he to be the gay man he knows himself to be if that is accompanied by guilt and shame? It sounds like DGW's boyfriend needs to deal with his own internalized homophobia before he can commit to anyone."
In other words, you may need to tell your boyfriend that he can have you or he can have his orthodoxy, his awful friends, and a lot of self-inflicted spiritual wounds. If your boyfriend can't break away from these people, if he refuses to find a church that welcomes him (and you!), then you may need to DTMFA.
Bishop Robinson's latest book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, is in bookstores now. Follow him on Twitter: @BishopGRobinson.
I'm a 22-year-old straight girl with a lovely boyfriend of four years. My problem: I'm bored with our sex life, and I don't know why. He's a generous lover, he always makes sure I come (which is not always an easy task), and he isn't insecure when I have to use my own fingers or a vibrator to get off. I know I'm lucky, but even after I come, I feel unsatisfied. I don't have any kinky fantasies, but the lack of passion and interest in our vanilla sex is killing me. I'm only 22! My sex life shouldn't be boring already!
He's voiced concerns about how I don't initiate sex with him often enough. It's just that I don't want the hassle of waiting for him to make me come when I can do it faster — and doing it myself means I don't have to worry about him getting tired or bored. Our sex drives are probably around the same, frequency-wise. I just need to know how to make things more interesting.
Bored In Bed
Having a partner who focuses like a laser beam on our pleasure sounds ideal. But always being the focus of sex, always being expected to come first, always being expected to come — that gets exhausting after a while. So order your boyfriend to focus a little more on his own pleasure and a little less on yours. If he worries about being selfish, you can tell him that a study conducted at Kwantlen Polytechnic University found that people with selfish sex partners reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction. ("Emerging Adulthood: An Age of Sexual Experimentation or Sexual Self-Focus?" (2010), by Hayley Leveque and Cory Pederson.)
I suspect that once the focus is off you — once you no longer have to live in fear of a forced march to orgasm every time you have sex — you'll be able to relax and enjoy sex more. You might even initiate once in a while.
Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.