Dear Dan: I have a fun little labeling question. I’m a non-binary person who was assigned male at birth (AMAB). I gravitate toward femininity in life and in love. My question is about the inclusiveness of the label “lesbian.” Is this a label only for women? Or is it inclusive of everyone who is feminine and is attracted to femininity? My goal is to label myself appropriately without infringing on others. —All Loves Labeled Inclusively
As labels go, ALLI, “lesbian” seems pretty darn binary to me. Now, the meaning of any given word evolves and changes over time, of course, and meaning follows use. But lesbian currently means — and is currently used to mean and will most likely continue to mean — a woman who is exclusively attracted to other women romantically and sexually.* So frankly, ALLI, I’m confused about why someone who’s your brand of non-binary (AMAB, femme and into femmes) would even want to identify as a lesbian. Since you’re neither a woman nor a man, ALLI, why would you want to use such a gendered label? (Why you might feel entitled to use it is another subject, one I’ll leave that for commenters to discuss.)
That said, no one can stop you from using the term lesbian to describe yourself. You know how they say in anti-anti-cancel-culture discourse that there’s no such thing as cancel culture, only accountability? Well, ALLI, there’s no such thing as gatekeeping or gatekeepers; there are no identity cops out there with the power to make arrests or issue fines. There are only people who might find your shit annoying. In the case of your specific shit, ALLI, some lesbians are gonna find it annoying — extremely annoying — but annoyed lesbians can’t prevent you from self-identifying as a lesbian any more than annoyed Slate writers can prevent Louis C.K. from selling out stadiums. No one can cancel him; no one can gatekeep you.
Dear Dan: I’ve been flirting with this guy from my class. He’s four years older and seems very into drugs and certain subcultures, but he also maintains an active social media persona. We’re planning on going out, but I already know that he would fit into an unhealthy pattern of mine: guys who aren’t sure what they want and are reluctant to make commitments. Do I just enjoy the sex that could occur? Or do I steer clear to protect myself?
—Should I Fuck This Intriguing New Guy?
Depends, SIFTING. After identifying this unhealthy pattern — your propensity for getting attached to guys who aren’t sure what they want and/or can’t commit — have you been able to enjoy sex without allowing yourself to get attached to guys with commitment issues? If the answer is yes, if you can trust yourself not to catch feelings for someone, then go ahead and fuck this guy. But if the answer is no — if you can’t fuck a guy without catching feelings — then don’t fuck this guy.
Zooming way out — and this is not a comment on your situation or your dating history — but sometimes we tell ourselves a man has “commitment issues” when he just doesn’t want to commit to us. And sometimes we tell ourselves a woman “doesn’t know what she wants” when she just doesn’t want us. And that’s fine. We’re just protecting our own egos. But if we believe that shit without reservation — if we buy our own hype — we’ll be devastated when the ex who couldn’t commit to us because “he doesn’t know what he wants” suddenly knows what he wants. And it’s someone else.
Dear Dan: I’m a 31-year-old cis woman living in the South. Dating here is a nightmare. It feels like everyone got married at 22 and is super into Jesus. I just broke up with someone and got back on the apps, and the first date I went on was amazing. Really cool, liberal, age-appropriate dude with a similar sense of humor. I had so much fun, and we exchanged numbers. And then … nothing. I bit the bullet and followed up and still haven’t heard anything. At what point do I write this guy off as a ghost? And how do I deal with the utter disappointment of being ghosted by a dude I really connected with?
—Ghosts Are Horrible
GAH: I took a call on the Savage Lovecast last week from a woman who was angry about being ghosted by a man — a neighbor whose front door she had to walk past every day — and then she saw the coroner wheeling the guy’s dead body out of his apartment on a gurney. Like the meme says, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” As for your battle, GAH, look on the bright side. The first date you went on after getting back on the apps went pretty well! There was no second date, and that’s too bad, and assuming he isn’t dead, it was rude of him to ghost on you like that. But if there was one guy in your area you could have an amazing first date with (even if it went nowhere), GAH, it’s not unreasonable to assume there are other guys in your area you could have equally amazing first dates with (dates that might go somewhere).
I WENT DOWN ON A FRIEND THIS WEEK AND I NOTICED SHE HAD A GROWTH ON HER LABIA I AM SURE IT IS FINE BUT ANY IDEA WHAT IT WAS? —WHAT WAS THAT
I HAVE NO IDEA BUT IF THE GROWTH WAS IN A SPOT YOUR FRIEND MIGHT HAVE DIFFICULTY SEEING YOU SHOULD SAY SOMETHING TO HER SO SHE CAN GET IT CHECKED OUT BY A DOCTOR.
Dear Dan: I dated someone recently for a few weeks and had sex, it was unprotected, and I found out immediately after that he had herpes. I was annoyed because I had condoms next to the bed. But I also felt partly responsible since we didn’t have a discussion first. He wound up having a breakout a few days later. We continued dating and used condoms after that until one night when I was high on edibles, and he didn’t use a condom. This was after he asked me earlier if I felt comfy going without condoms again and I explicitly requested condoms. We aren’t together now, but it feels really fucked up. He seemed like the nicest person.
—What The Fuck Was That
What that was, WTFWT, was fucked up. And that guy wasn’t nice. There’s not a lot you can do about it now besides learning from the experience. First, don’t drop hints. Don’t put condoms on the nightstand and hope the other person takes the hint and uses a condom. Tell the other person the condoms are there to be used and that if there isn’t one on his dick, his dick isn’t getting anywhere near your hole/holes — and if his dick gets near your hole without a condom on it, or if the condom should magically disappear after his dick is in your hole, you’ll be filing a police report. And second, don’t make requests, explicit or otherwise. From here on out, make demands. Unambiguous, unequivocal demands. And go get tested.
Dear Dan: Cis, married, straight man here. You’re my gay crush. Given the chance, how would you seduce me? I’ve never had man-sex before, because I really like pussy and the way women feel, but I think I could do it for you. You’ve always been my celeb “man-pass.” How can we get this started? I’m just a straight guy writing to a gay guy, asking him to fuck him.
—Lusting After Dan
Dear LAD: Straight guys who make passes at gay men assume we’re all going think, “OMG, this is my one chance to sleep with a real man!” In reality, LAD, what most gay men are thinking when a straight guy hits on us is, “Jesus Christ, this dude is gonna shit all over my dick.” Now, that thought doesn’t stop some gay men from sleeping with straight-identified guys who are bi or gay and closeted, LAD, nor does it stop some gay men from sleeping with the rare straight-but-situationally-heteroflexible guy with a very specific crush on one of us. But it’s always annoying when a straight guy assumes his straightness is an aphrodisiac that drives gay men wild and asks questions like, “Given the chance, how would you seduce me?” That framing assumes I would try, or would want to try, if I had the chance.
So, you could say, I’m just a gay guy responding to a straight guy, asking him to get over himself.
* A shout out to all the asexual lesbians, who are attracted to other women romantically but not sexually, and to all the aromantic lesbians, who are attracted to other women sexually but not romantically. I see you and your pride flags, I am familiar with your anime avatars, and I affirm the validity of your lesbianism.