Dear Ms. Behavior:
I hooked up with Tina last summer, when I was drinking a lot, still hurting from my last relationship, and just looking for recreational sex. We started out having great sex (everywhere!), and both continued hooking up with others.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve stopped drinking, and I’m trying to “cultivate self-esteem,” as my AA sponsor suggests, which for me involves desiring a stable relationship instead of acting on all my sexual impulses.
It turns out that Tina is a good person, and I’d like to be with her. She wants us to commit to our relationship, but also be “sexually wild.” The problem is that for me, commitment and wild sex don’t go together, especially without alcohol.
I don’t know how to explain to Tina that I no longer am into tying her up, having a lesbian sex-toy party, or doing it in public places. I’m afraid that Tina will think I’m boring, or that I misrepresented myself. I also fear that maybe I am boring when I don’t drink.
How can I explain that I’m not the wild woman she thinks I am? Can our relationship still work?
—Liar Liar Pants On Fire
Dear Liar Liar Pants On Fire:
Your switch in behavior from Party Whore/Bondage Woman to Demure Girlfriend might be confusing at first, particularly as it’s not what Tina signed up for when she first started dating you.
It may take Tina some time to understand that shucking your panties at the Stop & Shop or the public library actually is related to tossing back too many vodka tonics. You have no way to know if she’ll accept that your slutty behavior is more about booze than it is about her.
At the same time, it’s too soon to tell how you’ll feel once you’re sober for a while. Some people assume they can’t sing, dance, or meet new people at parties without the benevolent assistance of alcohol, but often, after a period of sobriety, they find that they can do all those things and more.
Your relationship is far from doomed. Take it slowly. Let’s hope you soon discover an unknown talent for fucking like an uninhibited monkey when you’re stone cold sober.
If not, you at least will have an opportunity to work on your communication skills, as you explain to Tina why you’d rather cuddle on the couch than participate in the local lesbian golf team’s orgy on the ninth hole.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
I’ve been reading your column for many years, and I’m a big fan of your witty responses. Lately, I’ve noticed many of your letters are about issues that could pertain to anyone, even straight readers.
Frankly, I’d continue to read your column even if I had to pick up Car and Driver or Good Housekeeping, but here’s my question: Do you think we still need GLBT publications and advice columns?
If we’re all about getting the same rights as straight people, such as marriage, why should I read the GLBT publication that carries the column? I don’t mean this an insult. I think it’s a good publication, but I wonder why we need GLBT publications at all.
And, while we’re on the topic, why doesn’t your column appear in a mainstream publication?
Some 10 or 15 years ago, Rosie and Ellen were in with the mothballs. We didn’t have The L Word, Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, or the Logo television channel.
Gay people who needed answers to their everyday questions had nowhere to turn. It was from this drought that Ms. Behavior’s column was born.
Some issues still remain specific to gay and lesbian culture. Abigail Van Buren and Miss Manners probably don’t know much about felching or ecstasy, or why lesbians like to watch gay-boy porn, so Ms. Behavior still does have her special niche.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that Ms. Behavior couldn’t write about straight relationship issues, hetero muff-diving, or blowjobs for GQ and Sassy, but no one has asked yet.
Anyway, most queers aren’t Martians. Let’s hope it’s not too surprising that our issues aren’t dramatically different from those of our straight brethren.
But, when will there stop being a need for gay and lesbian publications?
Maybe when mainstream publications consistently and reliably cover issues of concern to GLBT readers.
Maybe when we have equal rights for marriage and health care, and don’t have to worry about getting harassed or bashed just for being queer.
If straight people ever catch up, and improve their taste in music, fashion, and theater, perhaps we no longer will need our own publications.
Until then, here we are.
© 2008 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.