Savage Love | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Savage Love 

My 14-year-old son just came out to me. He has a slightly older boyfriend, and they're going to the school dance on Saturday night. I am adjusting to a truth I had long suspected. I am worried, though, that my son will get hurt. We live in North Carolina, but our town has a gay community and an annual pride parade. When I asked him if the other students would be cool with him bringing a boy, he said, "Who cares?" Bullying is not a huge problem at his school.

We have had the sex talk several times, but I have always assumed a hetero approach. I think my son is too young for sleepovers with his boyfriend, and I would really like him to wait a couple more years before he gets seriously sexually active, though I expect petting and kissing are givens. Any advice?

Still My Son


Treat him just like you'd treat your 14-year-old straight kid. No responsible parent would allow his 14-year-old daughter -- and that's how you should think of him for now (more on that in a moment) -- to have sleepovers with her slightly older boyfriend, right? So no sleepovers for your gay kid. Remember: You can be supportive and be his advocate without signing off on stuff you wouldn't sign off on for a straight child. Indeed, it's the best way to show your support.

What else can you do? You can hover, scrutinize, interfere -- all the crap that parents typically do when their children begin to date. For instance, this boy your son is seeing? Have you met him? Meet him. How much older is he? Find out. Are they messing around? Ask them. Make sure your son understands that he doesn't have to engage in anal intercourse to be authentically gay, or all grown-up, or out. He can take things slow -- he should take things slow. Encourage your son to date, to hold hands, to make out. And as awkward as it's going to feel to say so out loud, you should encourage your son, when he does become sexually active, to stick with mutual masturbation and oral sex for a good, long time -- until he's sure he's ready for intercourse, not just anxious for it.

Getting back to the daughter business: You should regard your son, at least through his adolescence, as more of a daughter to you than a son. We tend to be more protective of our daughters -- our straight daughters -- than we are of our sons. Why? A sexist desire to keep our daughters "pure"? That's a part of it, but there's also this: Men are pigs, and people on the receiving end of male sexual desire/attention are in more danger than people on the receiving end of female sexual desire/attention. (In general -- individual results may vary.) Testosterone is the crystal meth of hormones, a badass drug, and men are more likely to be abusive and violent.

The prevalence of HIV among gay men makes the stakes higher for your son. So don't allow him to date anyone you don't approve of, and don't confuse "being supportive" with "letting him do whatever/whomever he wants." Be active, be engaged, and never stop being his meddling, interfering, hyper-suspicious parent.

Good luck. It sounds like your son lucked out having you as a parent.


I've been seeing this guy for about two years in August. We've been living together for six months, and it's been REALLY bumpy. We fight a lot, I cry a lot, and it just gets really messy. I'm tired of it. I work two jobs, and I never get any time to myself because he's moody and insecure. He always wants to know where I'm going or who I'm with. He doesn't like to do the same things I do, and I'm beginning to think this is all one big mistake. The problem is every time I try to leave, it always gets ugly. Ugly to the point that he's thrown my stuff in the front yard, broken things of mine, and even called me names. He's abusive.

As sad as this sounds, and as ridiculous as I feel, I want to make this work. I want us to be happy. When we're mad, it's like World War III over here. But when we're happy, it's so blissful that I know being with him is the only place I want to be. People tell me it's time to sever ties, but the people who usually tell me this are the ones who can't stand him. How can I make a completely unbiased decision? Am I stupid for believing in a love that feels destined to fail?

Hopelessly Devoted To Him


This is not a relationship, it's a hostage situation. He's a controlling, abusive piece of shit -- listen to your fucking friends. When your boyfriend breaks your shit, he's making an implicit threat: I can break your face just as easily, bitch, so don't even think about leaving. And of course things are great when they're great -- that's part of an abuser's MO. If abusers were abusive 24/7 -- if they weren't capable of doling out a little bliss now and then -- no abusive relationship would last longer than one date. Like all abusers, he parcels out the good times, doping you up with a little bliss now and then, because he knows these glimpses of how great things could be convince you to stick around against your better judgment.

The bliss is a con, a weapon that he uses against you. It's just as much a part of the cycle of abuse as his tantrums, fits, and threats of violence are. Think of the good times as rainbow sprinkles on a dog-shit sundae -- sprinkles or no sprinkles, you're still standing there with a bowl full of dog shit.

Get a couple of friends to come over when he's at work or out of town, box up your shit, and leave. You can't change him. Go.


Apropos of nothing, Savage, you fucking suck ass.

You And Your Column Both Suck


Have I ever claimed otherwise?

And apropos of nothing, I'm totally grooving on Garfunkel & Oates right now (, and everyone has to check them out. Perez Hilton was absolutely right about Miss California (she is a dumb bitch). Seattle-based artist Kim Graham ( is getting centaur fetishists halfway there. And I recently visited the University of Georgia in Athens, where the kids asked me to come up with a dirty meaning for "between the hedges," which is their football stadium's nickname.

Off the top of my head, I said, "The boy in a girl-boy-girl three-way could be described as being between the hedges." But upon further reflection, I think the term is a better description of going down on a woman with a particularly hairy bush -- and the tongue, not the boy/girl doing the tonguing, is "between the hedges."


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