Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would Dan Savage Say?

When I'm not being regaled by them as the greatest blogger in the history of Las Vegas blogging, I still religiously pick up Las Vegas CityLife because in the back, buried with all the naughty adverts, is the sex advice column of Dan Savage. It's always brutally obscene, often weird and usually bitingly funny. I've also known Dan, a frequent TV talking head on gay stuff and editor of Seattle's alt-weekly, The Stranger, for a long time through the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Anyhow, there's this sleepy little column in the Review-Journal written by Steven Kalas who is a local "behavioral health consultant." He takes on people's problems and answers them, usually, in the dullest way imaginable. I rarely read it, although his piece last week ago defining porn and declaring it "a waste of a man's time" and "ridiculous" was pretty amusing.

But this week, the headline was: "Too early to worry about son's sexuality at age 12." And here's the problem Mr. Kalas considered:

My husband recently ran across some Web sites our 12-year-old son had been viewing. There were YouTube videos of Zac Efron in (the) shower, boys romping on (the) bed in underwear, cartoon characters with big pecs. While he wasn't actually viewing nudity, he was looking up all these male sites.

My question is, does this mean our son is gay? He does not have characteristics of being gay. I've always been worried since both our boys were little because their father's brother is gay.

My husband (the boy's father) is the complete opposite of his gay brother. He has manly traits, but his brother is very feminine. I don't see the gay brother's traits in my 12-year-old. But after seeing that he's been viewing these sites, I'm very concerned.

Do you feel like it would do damage to our son if my husband spoke to him about if he was gay or not? My husband said he doesn't want him to feel like his brother did (where he didn't feel accepted) and wanted to let our son know that we accepted him. I feel like this could really hurt my son's feelings if it's just maybe a case of curiosity. -- C.M., Austin, Texas

Kalas' long-winded answer is: No, it doesn't mean you're kid's gay and no, you shouldn't scare the shit out of your kid by talking to him about your findings. The columnist properly confronts the mom on her implicit homophobia but doesn't disabuse her of the notion that being gay is a sickness or "an inherent wickedness," both of which he suggests could be her motive. He does, in fact, suggests that a "good" reason for her to hope her kid's not queer is that it will deprive her of grandchildren.

I kept wondering how Savage, whose best-selling book "The Kid" is all about him becoming a dad, might react because this advice is really pretty clueless.

What should have Kalas said to this mother?

How about: Any 12-year-old boy who is consistently checking out images of Zac Efron in the shower and "all these male sites" wants dick. Period. It's as natural to him as it is for the many 12-year-old girls who view the same material. Kalas backs up his assertion that 12-year-olds really don't have a clue what they are or want with the non sequitur that a 12-year-old Kalas thought he'd marry some girl he crushed on back then. For this to be an apt analogy, though, Kalas would now be happily depriving his parents of grandbabies (his quaint word) by sharing his life with a dude. Otherwise, he thought he was straight back then and, lo and behold, he still is.

Should the parents talk to the kid about what he's looking at online? Uh, yeah. And if they do it in the right tone, the kid won't be freaked out any more than if he were a straight kid looking at pictures of big jugs. Then the kid will know that if someday he decides he wants to take a boy to the prom, you won't throw his ass out on the street like poor Derrick Martin in Bleckley County, Ga.

Oh, and since I know you're curious, here's Zac Efron in the shower. Not my taste, but I'm also not 12 anymore.

And just to be fair to all my straight male readers, I'd say the same thing if the question was a 12-year-old girl who was looking at this:

You're welcome. Especially you, Mr. Kalas. Aren't yummy pictures of sexy people just ridiculous?