Q: I'm a single gay male in my late 20s. I've met a guy I really like. We chat all the time and we're attracted to each other. We haven't yet been sexually active with each other, but we're planning to get naked and sweaty (and break out the ropes and blindfolds) over Christmas break. Why do we have a date "scheduled" for the sex? Well, because he lives six hours away and that's when he's next coming to visit.
But here's the "problem" — he happens to be HIV-positive. Before you start yelling at me for calling his status a problem, let me elaborate. The problem isn't that he's HIV-positive, per se. The problem is with me. I've had sex with poz guys in the past, but the thing is, I didn't know it at the time. I've always been safe and sensible and yadda yadda yadda, and my last HIV test (two months ago) came back negative. So while I know the risk is no greater with this new guy than it was with any of the poz guys I've slept with before, I'm still nervous and I'm not sure how I'll react emotionally when we go to bed together.
So here's my question, Dan. Is it fair to him to warn him that I might feel a little nervous having sex with him despite the fact that he's smokin' hot and we really want to fuck each other's brains out? I feel like HIV isn't supposed to be a "deal breaker," and he's got it and can't change that fact, and I'd feel guilty putting another burden on him in the form of my own insecurities about it. What should I do? —Neg Kinkster In The Heartland
A: Unless HIV has been found to burn fat calories, repair damaged split ends and act as a natural male enhancement since the last time I Googled the virus, NKITH, your friend's HIV status is a problem. While HIV infection may not be the fatal illness it once was (so long as you have access to life-saving drugs, of course), it's still no fucking picnic. It's better to be neg than it is to be poz — and that's a fact, NKITH, not a thought crime.
Presumably you're aware of this guy's HIV status in advance of his visit because he had the decency and the courage to disclose his HIV status to you. The decent and courageous thing for you to do now, NKITH, is to disclose your nervousness to him. Before you break out the ropes and condoms, NKITH, he needs to acknowledge the risks you're taking on when you sleep with him and do all he can to minimize those risks.
Ask him if he's being treated. Inquire about his viral load. Impress on him — in a good-natured, matter-of-fact way — that you desire to remain negative. Emphasize the importance of condoms and tell him that you apologize in advance if nerves get the better of you the first time out. And if you don't know this guy well, I'd leave the bondage and blindfolds off the menu until you've established a real sense of trust. And guess what, kiddo? You can't establish that kind of trust during your first face-to-face/ass-to-face/cock-to-ass visit.
And finally, NKITH, you have to accept that you could get infected even if you do everything right. If you're going to have insertive sex with this man (or any man whose HIV status you're unaware of) — particularly if you plan to blow him without a condom or let him fuck you even with one — you can only minimize your risks, NKITH, not eliminate them. Condoms break, condoms leak — rarely, if they're used correctly, but it does happen. People get infected giving blow jobs — rarely, again, but it does happen. He shouldn't sleep with you if he can't promise to do his best to keep you negative, NKITH. But you shouldn't sleep with him if you can't promise not to hold it against him if, even after doing everything right, you wind up positive.
Q: I've been married to my husband for two years. We've been separated for a year now, as he's overseas dealing with family issues. Sex was never a focal point in our relationship prior to marriage, which was fine by me, since I was abused as a child and needed to address those issues. But since we've been married, whenever I want to talk about sex, he has become very evasive. Now he tells me that since he was so sexually active before meeting me, he feels it is time for him to leave sex behind. He says he doesn't even masturbate anymore, and when I last saw him in March while visiting I noticed that his penis seems to have shrunk in size.
Can a person become asexual after being so active? Can his penis atrophy from lack of use? He has (or had) a lovely, thick, 8-inch beauty. Can atrophy be reversed? Is it low testosterone? —Crazy Ol' Cock Kisser
A: There's only one thing I know of that can permanently shrink a man's dick, COCK, and that's a course of female hormones in advance of sex-reassignment surgery. Those 'mones will shrink a soon-to-be-ex-man's/never-was-a-man's junk, destroy his sex drive, make it difficult for him to maintain erections, and cause his balls and prostate to waste away. So ... uh ... gee. It may not just be sex that your husband intends to leave behind, COCK, but his sex. Or, hey, it could be something else. But when someone's being evasive and distant — emotionally, physically and geographically — it's usually something big.
Q: I am a young female currently in a relationship and I want to be honest with my boyfriend. A few years before I met my boyfriend, I met someone in my family. I guess he would be my second cousin. His mother is my father's first cousin. Anyway, we met one Christmas at a family get-together and ended up having sex. Would it be dishonest not to tell my current or any future lovers this detail about my sex life? —One Shameful Secret
A: You're not going to make the cut for the U.S. Incest Olympic Team doing your father's cousin's son, OSS. But don't take my word for it.
"They are second cousins," says K.C. "And second cousins can marry in every state of the U.S." K.C. is one of the editors of CousinCouples.com, a Web site that aims to destigmatize cousin couples whenever and wherever they're getting their three-headed-baby freak on. At CousinCouples.com, you'll learn that your kind can have single-headed babies like everyone else — and that first cousins can marry in 26 states, Mexico, Canada and all of Europe. Since first-cousin marriage is largely legal and second-cousin marriage is barely taboo, OSS, a one-night stand with a second cousin is nothing to be ashamed of.
Coming next week: What the fuck was I thinking? In last week's column, I told Hawt And Royally Depressed to be honest with his wife. She'd put on a few pounds — a few dozen — and he wasn't feeling it anymore. Some readers felt my suggested opening lines — "You have gotten fat and unattractive and my sex drive is nil, so can we do something about it before I bail on you?" "You are out of shape and it's killing our relationship." "Unless you take up jogging and lose 35 pounds, sweetie, I'm going to have a hard time being sexually excited about you." — weren't helpful. Rereading my advice now, I have to agree: That's terrible advice. We'll have a full accounting in next week's column.Download Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org