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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 brought the house down. Especially the scene where Jack 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 movie is about two 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, since they themselves had gotten over those hang-ups long ago. Nevertheless, they seemed to display a real lack of empathy.

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

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 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. Michael Mendez, 60, Danny Reeves, 49, and Richard Sciara, 61, 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….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 who doesn’t want to be hurt,” and, um, “some of my best friends are…”—I can’t defend castration, whether it’s malicious or, you know, festive.

For the record: There are some men out there who want to have their balls cut off. Some are into BDSM, some are not. 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—and keep having erections, orgasms, children, male hormones, and so on.

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 old, creepy, nonmedical professionals winging it in a dungeon in Bumfuck, N.C. Castration cannot be regarded as safe or sane, and even if someone consents to it—heck, even if they beg for it—castration is so extreme that consent has to be regarded as evidence of a man’s being of unsound mind and therefore incapable of giving his consent, at least until a qualified shrink and a licensed doc determine otherwise. (Dr. Phil doesn’t count—he’s never met an American male whom he didn’t want to see castrated.)—Dan

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

You can’t write about sex and avoid politics—not in America, at any rate, and now, thanks to Stephen 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?—Dan

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

Thank you, NYJCB. And to close this week’s column, a little bidness to attend to…

Some trannies, she-males, lady-boys, X-Men, and the men who love them were upset about last week’s column. You can read their thoughts by going to thestranger.com/savage/shemale.

Straight Rights Update: Black Jack, Mo., is currently deciding whether it will issue an occupancy permit to an unmarried straight couple with three kids. (Occupancy permit? Who’d guess you need one to move to Black Jack, Mo.? Black Jack should be begging people to move there.) Currently, the couple does not 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. Hmm. 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 over $8,000 worth of ITMFA buttons and lapel pins in the last week and a half. I’d like to break $10,000 (all profits go to the ACLU), and I can do it 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 AP. To which I say, ITMFA!—Dan Savage

Dan Savage’s new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, is on sale now. Send your Savage Love questions to mail@savagelove.net.