Letters to the Editor

Week of January 29, 2003

Fun With Syphilis

But what about the poetry man?:I find it odd that your article on syphilis researcher Deborah Hayden discussed Lou Salomé and Friedrich Nietzsche without so much as a passing reference to Rainer Maria Rilke ["Disease Detective," Jan. 15]. The poet, Salomé, and Nietzsche comprised one of the most torrid love triangles of the age. Salomé also knew Freud.

Lee Doolan
Potrero Hill

Another creepy disease:Diagnostic detective work is also needed for a spirochetal cousin of syphilis that occurs right here in California and worldwide. That is Lyme disease and its co-infections. Ticks in California are also infected with not only the spirochete Borrelia that causes Lyme disease, but also Bartonella, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis -- all of which can cause similar symptoms.

In fact Lyme, known as the "New Great Imitator," often remains undiagnosed and misdiagnosed, shockingly often mistaken for multiple sclerosis, among other things. (The gamut of signs is similar to syphilis, from brain to the soles of the feet.)

Lee Lull
Marin County Lyme Disease Support Group Coordinator
Corte Madera

Just Call Me a Hag Fag

It's as good as any other dumb sexual "category": Dan Savage's column of Nov. 27, 2002, is still rattling around in my head. In it, he called an 18-year-old guy who says he loves his girlfriend but confesses that he likes dick "a HUGE fag."

I dated women until I was 27. Then I came out and openly and sometimes militantly identified myself as gay for 18 years. About a year ago, I met a remarkable woman and quite unexpectedly fell in love. I'm now sublimely happy and fulfilled -- sexually and emotionally -- in a relationship I never saw coming.

What does this make me? What label shall we apply?

Looking back, I wish that 18 years ago I could have allowed myself to think beyond easy labels and social stigma and realize that sexual feelings are complicated and varied, and that sexual attraction to men does not necessarily make someone "a HUGE fag" -- that sexuality doesn't need to be either-or.

It's hard to see now why I accepted that label for myself, but at the time it seemed the reasonable conclusion. I had no role models for bisexuality. To straight men, homo sex is strictly taboo; to gay men, attraction to women is suspect. Though I'd enjoyed dating (and fucking) women, once I crossed the line I figured that was it -- if I was attracted to men it could only mean one thing, and women would no longer be interested, even if I allowed myself to feel attracted to them (I wouldn't seem "man" enough, I would be disqualified for fear of AIDS).

I can recognize this now as internalized homophobia, and it's given me (and friends and family) a lot to re-evaluate in the past year. When I told gay friends I was dating a woman, one screamed at me and called me a traitor; others flatly told me they "don't believe in bisexuality." One said, "No matter how many women you date, I'll always think of you as gay."

"Straight Guy Who Likes Dick" sounds like he has unresolved issues about his sexuality, and he may be in denial about elements of it. Maybe he actually is gay. But I think his feelings warrant a more thoughtful response than a glib appropriation of an epithet that's been used to shame and damage so many people.

I'd hope that at this point in history -- especially here on the allegedly enlightened West Coast -- we might begin to allow people real sexual freedom. It's easy to yuk it up and admit this guy to the club with a knowing wink and a smack on the ass. But what if he's actually not applying for membership? And what if some young bisexual is reading these columns trying to figure out where (s)he fits in?

Peter Cieply
Oakland

Manning a "Chick Flick"

Dude, did we see the same movie?:Regarding Gregory Weinkauf's review of The Hours: If it was truly a "men's movie," then why didn't he understand what was wrong with the characters' lives ["Sour Hours," Film, Dec. 24, 2002]?

I would think that a man would understand a "men's movie." As a woman, I had a clear sense of what was so troubling for Virginia, Laura, and Clarissa. And I didn't read the book.

Weinkauf's "solutions" were ridiculous and insulting -- Kitty never would have gotten it on with Laura, and taking an art class was not going to make her marriage any better. Clarissa was clearly overworked and overloaded and so focused on everyone else that she hasn't experienced true happiness for the past 20 years. There was no dancing around this issue.

I'm surprised that SF Weeklywould send a man to a "chick flick" in the first place. This review does not do the film justice and I suggest that Weinkauf stick to true men's movies in the future.

Alisha Eisert
Lower Haight

Speaking Seuss to Power

Your boy's got a nice touch:It happens that in my past (from ages 4-5 to 45 or so) I was quite a fan of Dr. Seuss, and I can say with great authority that Dan Siegler has honored his style very well indeed ["How Saddam Stole Christmas," Dog Bites, Dec. 18, 2002].

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