Dear Readers: Just in time for Gay Pride, advice for 15-year-old fags and dykes from grown-up gays and lesbians:
Three words: high school ends. No matter how much life sucks right now, it will get better. It’ll never be all rainbows and happiness, but some day you’ll know, your family will know, your friends will know. The people who really care about you will stay with you, and you won’t think twice about putting your name at the end of an e-mail like this.
When I was a baby dyke, I would hang around the Gay & Lesbian and Women’s Studies sections of the local Barnes & Noble. If you’re afraid of people staring at you (as I was), you can always just turn around and look at whatever shelf is behind it. —Karyn
Don’t be ashamed of being sexually inexperienced. It’s way hotter than being prematurely slutty. —K.
My advice to young lesbians (and gay boys) would be to join a local theater group. If you have no thespian tendencies, paint sets or take tickets. The cast party is what matters anyway. Most actors/actresses are at the very least bisexual by the closing night of any play. The downside: Actresses cry a lot, which can be exhausting. —Small Town Diva
I wish someone had told me at 15 that I could go for anything in life. In my loneliness I assumed that all kinds of things were off-limits to me: sports, fraternities, genuine friendships, the possibility of raising kids. I shied away from potential friends and mentors, and wrote off professions and cities where I thought I wouldn’t be wanted. I missed so many opportunities. Don’t assume that doors are closed to you just because you’re queer. And when you come across the occasional one that really is locked, kick the fucker down. It’s your world.
If you live in a little town: Get the fuck out. Move to a big city where there’re lots of people who are gay. You’ll have more dating options, and people will treat you with more respect. —Mark F.
I wish I’d known that I could someday grow up, fall in love, get married (civilly united, whatever!) with my family in attendance, and have kids with the woman of my dreams.
—Dyke in the Desert
When I was 15 I regularly got my dick sucked by men in the bathroom of our mall in Christian suburbia. At the time I was like a kid in a candy shop, shocked at my good fortune. I can only imagine today, with the advent of the Internet and even easier anonymous sex, that horny teenage boys have a virtual smorgasbord of sex with strangers awaiting them at any time. But I implore you not to do it. The resulting sexual compulsions, secretiveness, double life, shame, inappropriate sexual boundaries, and so forth that were created in my teens haunt me today at 36. —R.P.
I’m a 45-year-old black gay man, and I hope not to come off preachy: Please don’t imitate thugs and hard-heads. They’re not real. (I was lost like that and spent years incarcerated. Talk about some bad-hair days.) Learn to enjoy reading at night, because there will be many nights when you will be alone. Being alone and lonely are two totally different things. Neither one requires that you go out and have sex with the first man who says “What up?” —G.R.X.
Once I was a very closeted and very kinky 15-year-old gay boy. I came out as gay at 18, but not as kinky. I wasted years having sex I didn’t enjoy because I was afraid of what my friends would think. Three years ago, at age 26, I discovered that one of the hottest guys I knew was just as kinky as I was. If we had been more open we would’ve started dating—and tying each other up!—a lot sooner. Now everyone knows we’re kinky, no one cares, and some of our hottest friends have come over to get tied up and see what the fuss is about!
—Our Second Bedroom
Is a Dungeon
P.S. And being kinky doesn’t mean you can’t find love! I did!
Tell your friends you’re gay. I never lost a friend because I was gay, but I did hurt a few of my closest friends by keeping it a secret from them. Not only do you need their support, they need to feel that you trust them. —Brian
Stay away from older guys—no matter how lonely you feel, how horny you get, or how hot they make you feel. It’s not hot; it’s not a compliment. You’re not mature and sophisticated. If you’re 15 and they’re over 20, they are just fucked up.
My advice for 15-year-old gay boys: Make friends with gay men of all ages. You can learn a lot from guys who’ve lived a bit, whether it’s about sex, relationships, cooking, motorcycles, or decorating your apartment. And unless you ask, the answer is already no.
If you’re 15 and questioning, save yourself some angst and don’t rule out “bi” and “none of the above” as options. I drove myself crazy going back and forth between “I can’t be gay because I think girls are totally hot” and “But if I’m straight, why do I want to make out with that guy?”
—Loving the View From the Fence
Stay away from “questioning” guys. Their only question is this: How can I get a blowjob without having to reciprocate? These boys show up 15 years later with the same question. —Bi Means Bye-Bye
Don’t date straight girls who claim to be bi! My first two relationships were with straight girls, and I gave them orgasm after orgasm but never once received one in return. By the time I dated another real lesbian, I had serious problems allowing myself to be pleasured. Be warned: That straight girl is never going to want to eat pussy, so don’t waste your time.
—Should Have Known Better
My advice for young bi girls: Don’t bother with lesbians. Find other bi girls. It is no fun to be accused of being out screwing some guy because you’re 15 minutes late. Find a nice bi girl who can comprehend that just because you are capable of being attracted to either sex doesn’t mean you’re incapable of monogamy. —Lisa D.
The best strategy for a teenage lesbian: Study hard and get good grades, and apply to a good liberal-arts college. Good grades can open doors to a world of smart, fun, open-minded women (read: action like you can’t imagine). Four years at Wellesley were worth the debt. —Smart, Sexy & Solvent
If you think a boy might be gay, there is a very good chance that your gaydar has kicked in, and you should consider the possibility of making a move if you’re sure the guy isn’t going to go apeshit and beat you up. And condoms condoms condoms!
—Contentedly Queer at 25
There’s more terrific advice for young queers at link.thestranger.com/1149.
Dan Savage’s Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (Dutton) is available at bookstores nationwide. Send your Savage Love questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.