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Green Friday

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: The Sub's Paradox

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Originally posted on December 28, 2011.

I am a 25-year-old gay man. Although I have always accepted my homosexuality and never really felt bad about it, recently I have been going through a hard time psychologically because I'm exposing myself to very graphic homophobic online content. There are blogs, online groups, and websites that cater to gay men who like to be abused and degraded by "straight" men. Some people write extensively about how all gay rights should be rolled back.

I am very disturbed because I am actually aroused by content that shows supposedly straight men degrading gay men. I always come away feeling disturbed, insecure, and unhappy. But when I'm horny, I go right back. The worst feeling comes from knowing that a lot of those people don't seem to recognize it as just a fantasy, but instead believe in the homophobic views they express.

I was never disturbed by BDSM-type fantasies or BDSM porn, as it never seemed to be related to homophobia at all. But this type of dom/sub thing is very disturbing, as people don't seem to be "just playing" and it is playing with a real-world violent and powerful hate ideology. Is it okay for me to just view this as another harmless fantasy or is this something I need to control or get help dealing with? Secondly, are the people who contribute, participate in, and produce such gay-bashing sexualized content just indulging in a version of acceptable BDSM/kink or is it dangerous to use a prevalent hate ideology in sex play?

Not An Inferior Faggot

P.S. Examples of these websites:,, and

My response after the jump...

You're not inferior, NAIF, and you're not alone.

In fact, you have lots of horny soul mates out there—think of strong feminist women with rape fantasies, think of faithful Jews with Nazi fetishes, think of empowered African Americans who get off on Master/slave role-play scenes. And think of all the gay men out there turned on by those vaguely threatening male archetypes. I mean, come on: All those cliché gay male sex symbols—truckers, skinheads, marines, cops, firemen, gangbangers—don't exactly represent the kinds of people or professions that have historically been associated with tolerance.

A person can safely explore degrading fantasies—even fantasies rooted in "hate ideology"—so long as he/she is capable of compartmentalizing this stuff. Basically, you have to build a firewall between your fantasies and your self-esteem. (And, just as importantly, between your fantasies and your politics.) Once you do that, NAIF, you'll be able to enjoy your "straight men abusing fags" fantasies without feeling devastated immediately after you come. In fact, successfully building that firewall and then enjoying your fantasies without shame can leave you feeling stronger and more empowered for having these fantasies in the first place. Call it the sub's paradox: A D/s sub who can enjoy his fantasies without being shredded by them is in control, not being controlled—regardless of how things might appear to a casual or misinformed observer.

But it doesn't sound like you've been able to build that firewall yet, NAIF, due to feelings of shame rooted in a perceived disconnect between the person you know yourself to be—a proud gay man—and the scenarios that make your dick hard. But there is no disconnect, NAIF. You don't really hate yourself any more than the feminist with rape fantasies really wants to be raped or the Jewish guy with Nazi fantasies really believes that Germans are the master race. (Could a people who routinely wear sandals with socks be the master race? No, they could not.) It might help if you reminded yourself of that before, during, and after you rub one out—it also might help if a sex-positive counselor reminded you of that during some regular sessions over a period of months.

You know what else might help? Finding a nice, out, proud gay man who gets off on this shit, too, NAIF, a guy who wants to explore these degradation fantasies with you in real time—safely, respectfully, and consensually. Cuddling after a hot, crazy, kinky D/s sex session with the "straight" guy who five minutes ago was "degrading" you for being a "worthless faggot"—and then getting dressed and going out to grab some fro-yo and chat about Glee—would go a long way toward helping you see your fantasies as something that brought intimacy, companionship, and connection into your life, instead of self-loathing and self-recrimination.

But don't start exploring your fantasies with a boyfriend until that firewall is well under construction, NAIF, okay?


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