a 47-year-old man and my wife is 49. We got married four years
ago. Two days ago, she came back from the doctor and told
me she has genital herpes. I am floored. She said she just
found out. She said she must have contracted it years ago
and never had an outbreak until 10 days ago. She has been
to the doctor countless times over the last 20 years. I don’t
know what to think. Is it really possible she didn’t know?
I know she needs me to be a loving husband now, but it’s hard
when I can’t believe she just found out about this. If she
knew about it and lied to me, my trust is destroyed. Also,
how can our marriage survive when I can’t bring myself to
have sex with her? What do you think?
In Serious Trouble
think you’re being a douche, MIST.
But, hey, everyone’s entitled to a little douchebaggery now
and then. The wife’s got a sexually transmitted infection—that’s
upsetting and you’re freaked. Understandable. You’re also
overreacting and misinformed, MIST, and continued douchebaggery
on your part may end your marriage. So let’s set down the
douchebag and start getting informed, OK?
wife could have been exposed to the herpes virus decades ago,”
says Karen J. Pataky, a nurse practitioner and clinician at
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. Which means
it’s possible that your wife didn’t know, MIST—believe it.
Why would she suddenly have an outbreak? “Her immune system
could have kept it contained all this time,” says Pataky.
“As we near 50, our immune systems become a little less competent
to deal with certain things.”
As for all those trips to the doctor? “None of the medical
situations that MIST describes would lead a physician to check
for herpes antibodies; she would not know through routine
blood tests, either.” (MIST included some details about his
wife’s medical history that I shared with Pataky.)
And guess what, MIST? If your wife could have been infected
for years without knowing, then you could have been infected
for years without knowing. Pataky connects the suppurating
dots: “It’s possible that he is the one who infected
her and he has not had an outbreak. Or he had a small
outbreak and it went away quickly and he didn’t think twice
So what do you do now?
can get a blood test if he wants to know if he has antibodies
to herpes,” says Pataky. She adds that the presence of antibodies
only indicates that you’ve been exposed, not whether you will
develop symptoms. If it turns out that you’re not already
exposed, MIST, you can use condoms at all times to protect
yourself—but condoms don’t provide 100-percent protection
against herpes. So why not do the decent, loving thing and
just assume you’re already infected and refuse to let a piddling
thing like herpes destroy your marriage?
HIV, heart attacks—that’s horrible news,” says Pataky. “This
is not horrible news. Herpes is not something to ruin a marriage
over, medically speaking. It’s never life threatening and
it’s possible to go years without any outbreaks.”
So, MIST, do you love your wife more than you fear a relatively
mild STI that you’ve probably already been exposed to and
may have exposed your wife to in the first place? If the answer
to that question isn’t “yes,” MIST, you’re a bigger douche
than I thought.
I’m dating again after taking a break due to a spate
of bad relationships. Four weeks ago, I met a guy I felt a
genuine interest in and he let things develop. Then he told
me that he would be moving to Las Vegas at the end of July,
but wanted to date until he left. With Pride Weekend coming
up and plenty of opportunities to find someone who may actually
be living in Seattle for more than a few weeks, I declined.
After bouncing back, I met someone even more wonderful. We
share this electricity and he’s someone I could see myself
with long-term. Then he tells me that he, too, is moving at
the end of the month! Am I the goodbye committee for the gay
scene in Seattle? Any wise words to help a lost little ’mo?
LB: Stop whining. In four weeks, you’ve met two guys you could
see yourself with long-term. There are fags out there having
a hard time meeting guys they can see themselves with through
happy hour. Keep going out, keep meeting guys, and, again,
Oh, and speaking of lost little ’mos . . .
Tyler Whitney is an up-and-coming conservative activist. Just
18 years old, Whitney is working for the GOP’s most rabidly
antigay presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, as Webmaster;
he heads up a rabidly antigay political group on his college
campus; and he carried a “Go Back in the Closet!” sign at
an antigay protest. Which is odd, since Whitney is gay and
has recently been outed.
Well, not so much outed. Whitney had begun quietly
coming out to a few friends—presumably his more tolerant right-wing
buddies—when Between the Lines, a gay paper in Michigan
where Whitney goes to college, decided to hurry Whitney’s
coming-out process along.
Predictably, conservatives are rallying around their pet self-hating
homo. Bay Buchanan, senior adviser to Tancredo, says Whitney’s
“sexual preference is a personal matter” and that it should
have “nothing to do with the campaign.”
Sorry, Bay, but gay-bashing thugs—people like you, your horrible
brother Pat, your vile candidate—can’t have it both ways.
If Whitney’s sexual preference is a personal matter, then
so is mine. If Whitney’s sexual preference shouldn’t have
anything to do with the campaign, then neither should mine—nor
should the sexual preference of any other American. So zlong
as the GOP insists on attacking gay and lesbian Americans,
Whitney’s sexual orientation—to say nothing of his hypocrisy—is
relevant to a debate that the GOP started.
Some stupid homos, of course, are saying that we should feel
compassion for poor Tyler Whitney. Oh, he’s just a kid, too
young to be outed, have a little sympathy, blah blah blah.
Uh . . . nope.
Someone who’s 18 and gay is old enough to drive, join the
army, vote, and come out. Someone who’s 18 and gay and not
ready to come out is old enough to know better than to march
with assholes carrying “Straight Power” signs at antigay rallies.
And someone who’s 18 and gay and politically active,
as Whitney is, is politically savvy enough to know that working
for antigay politicians makes him a prime outing candidate.
I say this as someone who doesn’t support outing in all instances.
Hell, I recently talked someone out of outing a public
figure. A Savage Love reader was contemplating outing an innocuous
celeb back in April. I advised him against it because, as
I wrote to him privately, outing is brutal and it should be
reserved for brutes. Whitney more than qualifies.
Want to feel sorry for someone? Feel sorry for Sean William
Kennedy, a 20-year-old gay man who was beaten to death outside
a bar in South Carolina. If Kennedy was old enough to die
at the hands of a thug who, without a doubt, votes for the
same assholes Whitney does, then Whitney is old enough to
Thanks to Karen J. Pataky of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan
Washington for the excellent advice. When was the last time
you donated to Planned Parenthood? Give now at www.ppmw.org.
a new Savage Love podcast every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage.