This country's tastes and values have been set by a money-hungry USDA -- the inventors of the four food groups we grew up with, which still dominate our thinking -- assigned (and paid with taxpayer dollars) to promote meat and dairy foods. The USDA knows -- and they knew in 1956, when those heinous, morbid four food groups debuted -- that the products they promote sicken us. This is not an impartial, consumer-friendly organization, Dan. You're brainwashed, my friend, and by the government, which subsidizes and promotes cattle ranchers and dairy farmers just as it promotes and protects tobacco farmers. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society don't take a stand because they're big and unwieldy, hence ruled by politics, and don't want to lose their funding. If you only knew the well-concealed facts (the American diet not only wreaks havoc on our bodies, it is also decimating the global environment), you'd be just as adamant about this scourge as you are about cigarette smoking. Further reading: Neal Barnard, M.D.; John McDougall, M.D.; Dean Ornish, M.D.; and the Pulitzer-nominated (albeit New Age prissy) John Robbins. Love,
Hey, Everybody: I got a lot of mail from angry vegans, but the above response was by far the best. That it was from my vegan proofreader had nothing to do with the decision to run it -- I ran Sara's letter because it was the least pathetic and most informed response to my vegan-baiting. Sara's threats to let my column go out with misspellings and grammatical errors intact had no impact on my decision whatsoever.
You all love it when I pick on people, until I get around to picking on you. Then, the angry letters pour in. I'm used to it; that's what makes this job so much fun. Yet I was caught completely off guard by the weepy responses my little vegan dig generated. Really, you guys, get a backbone. I poked you so you could poke me back, not so you could write -- and I could read -- tear-smudged, five-page letters (really!) about how betrayed and violated you felt, letters I would never in a million years run in my column. I mean, eesh, come on. But to set your minds at ease: I don't hate vegans -- how could I hate my proofreader? or the guy I'm seeing right now? -- nor do I think all vegans are ill-mannered, self-righteous, unwashed, malnourished crybabies. So dry your eyes, and eat your birdseed.
Hey, Faggot: Why is it that every time a bisexual, or someone experiencing same-sex fantasies, writes you a letter, you holler "closet case" and tenaciously maintain that they're really gay? You, of all people, should be able to understand the magnificent scope and diversity of human sexuality and the many fetishes, fantasies and desires contained therewith. Can't a person experience or think about a sexual happening that strays from their normal routine without having a label thrown at them? And why do there have to be labels for everything? I personally believe everyone to be ambisexual, to some degree, no matter how "straight" or "gay" they claim to be. I'm sure even you -- his royal gayness -- has had, at some moment in your life, a hint, a smidgen of a dash of a trace of curiosity of what sex would be like with -- eek, gasp, argh! -- a woman.
Hey, S.O.: When I called the bi guy in question a closet case, I didn't mean he was a closeted gay man, but a closeted bisexual. In his own words: "I am a straight-acting bi guy with a girlfriend that I love a lot ... My girlfriend doesn't know I'm bi." He is in the closet -- not about being a fag, you moron, but about being bi. Duh.
In defense of "labels": Most people are heterosexual; if gays and lesbians do not self-identify as gay and lesbian, we are, by default, identified as straight -- because, perhaps rightly, heterosexuality is assumed. The whole world wants to keep us from identifying as queer -- strives to deny us our "label." In breeder schools, churches and homes we internalize the lies told about us by our parents, preachers, teachers and classmates. We spend the first half of our lives in absolute terror of being labeled gay or lesbian! If we're lucky -- if we don't self-destruct, don't kill ourselves in our teens, aren't murdered by our "betters" or don't retreat into the closet to wither away and die there -- we begin to see through the lies, and come out. We spend the rest of our lives refuting the lies by our very existence: Happy, well-adjusted gay and lesbian people, and vibrant gay and lesbian ghettos, disprove every hateful, homophobic untruth propagated by bigots -- and it drives them crazy.
But without the label, without embracing our identity, we can never come out. The black person who never says, "I'm black," is still a black person in the eyes of the world; the woman who never says, "I am a woman," is still a woman. But the gay person who never says, "I am gay," is somehow, magically, not gay. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy (on queers in the armed services) is a perfect example: Everyone admits there are queers in the military, but so long as they don't say they're queer, Sam Nunn can go on pretending we have a queer-free military, and the straight boys among our brave, young troops can go on pretending no one ever sneaks a peek at their precious behinds in the shower. We must have the words -- the labels -- or we risk being swallowed up by the heterosexual-heterosexist assumption, made invisible and destroyed. If our label makes you uncomfortable, tough shit. We can't exist without it. Given a choice between your homophobic discomfort with labels and our existence, I'm afraid we're going to have to chose the latter.
P.S. I have had sex with women. It was fun. Smooshy, but fun.
Hey, Faggot: I've been married for 15 years, and my wife and I have a very boring sexual relationship. I would love it if she would be more adventurous, but it's not likely. I fantasize about light bondage and oral service on or with another couple. Is there juicy fruit out there to be savored?
Hey, O.R.: You bet there is. Why not take out a personal ad, try dance classes or invest in Isadora Alman's audiotape, "New Ways to Meet New People" (send $15, postage paid, to 3145 Geary #153, San Francisco, CA 94118).
Hey, readers: Dan wants to take the word "faggot" back from the bigots. But it's still explosive - if you use it as a hate epithet, you're a creep and should be reported to CUAV (333-HELP) or GLAAD/SFBA (861-4588).
Got problems? Oh yes you do. Write: Savage Love, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco,