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Last weekend I visited my second cousin. We’ve been close since childhood. We would spend two weeks a year together every year and those days constitute some of my happiest memories. During my visit to her home, we admitted that we had childhood crushes on each other. By the end of the night, we were making love and it was both emotionally and physically fulfilling. Although things were fine between us the next day, she said that what we had done must remain a secret. She doesn’t think she can handle telling our family that we are in love, although I could live with whatever judgment was passed on us. I miss her every minute and I want to convince her that we should be together. Give me some advice.

—Almost Incestuous Canadian Heartbreak

My advice? Read the friggin’ newspapers, AICH. The New York Fucking Times recently signed off on first cousins getting married and having babies: “Contrary to widely held beliefs and longstanding taboos in America,” Denise Grady wrote in the page-one story, “first cousins can have children together without a great risk of birth defects or genetic disease.” Grady cites a report in the The Journal of Genetic Counseling by Dr. Arno Motulsky of the University of Washington. After studying thousands of births to first cousins, Motulsky and his pals at National Society of Genetic Counselors concluded that there was little harm in first cousins getting married and having babies. Oh, and when I checked out a Web site that Grady mentioned——I learned that, “ . . . first cousin marriages are legal in every country in the Western Civilization, including Australia, Europe and South America, and Canada.” Since you and your childhood crush/adult lover are second cousins, I don’t see what the angst and secrecy are all about. And, I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get any sympathy from this cocksucker on the she-can’t-handle-telling-our-family-because-they-might-pass-judgement score. Boo fucking hoo! If it’s that kind of shit that worries her then your second cousin/future wife should get down on her knees and thank God she didn’t fall in love with a female first- or second-cousin.

I’m a 19-year-old gay male. I sometimes have sex with my straight male cousin, who is a year younger than me. To count the ways in which this is wrong, I would need more fingers and toes than I have. And I have 20. It started through childhood sex play. But then we got older. (My first orgasm prompted a conversation that began, “It was really salty that time.”) Now we’re adults. We get together under the pretense of drinking and looking at porn but wind up with my mouth around his dick. He has offered to reciprocate, but I declined because I knew he wouldn’t really enjoy it. I am torn. It’s wrong to have sex with your cousin. On the other hand, I like sucking dick, and he likes having his dick sucked . . .

—Sticky Oral Situation

If it’s OK for straight cousins to marry and make babies, it’s certainly OK for gay cousins to offer their not-getting-any straight cousins a little head now and then.

I was abused as a child and therefore sexualized at an early age. When I was about 11 or 12 and my brother was about 8 or 9 I encouraged him to do sexual things with me, such as kissing, exploring our bodies, and simulating sex. I “forgot” about these encounters until I took a human sexuality class in college. The professor said that sex play between siblings is a normal part of childhood, but that people often feel very guilty about this because they see it as incest. This brought back the memories of what I encouraged my brother to do. Now I can’t shake this feeling of guilt. My brother and I are close, but I don’t think this is something I could bring up. The funny thing is, my brother and cousin recently joked about how they used to play doctor. They feel no guilt or shame, yet I do. Is it truly normal for siblings to have such encounters?

—Twisted Sister

Your problem can be divided into What You Did, and Why You Did It. What you did wasn’t a big deal. Your professor was right: Sex play between siblings is a normal part of childhood—although not all siblings engage in sex play, and there’s nothing abnormal about people who didn’t engage in childhood sex play with their siblings. But, again, rest assured that what you did with your brother was no biggie.

Why you did it—or why you think you did it—is the biggie. You say that you were abused as a child, “sexualized at an early age,” and you believe that’s the reason you initiated sex play with your brother. Perhaps it is, but plenty of people who weren’t abused as children engage in sex play with their siblings. Still, you view your sexual abuse as the reason you initiated sex play with your brother, and since you view that sex play as an extension of your abuse, you regard yourself as the “aggressor” and your brother as the “victim.” But guess what? If your brother wasn’t traumatized by the sex play, then you have nothing to feel guilty about. Now guess what? You won’t feel better about what happened until you hear that from your brother. That means, of course, that you’re just going to have to get drunk and ask him if he remembers those times you messed around as kids.

So, Dan, where were you when you heard that Ann Landers was dead?

—Morbid Curiosity

I was afraid someone would ask me that. Intending no disrespect, I share the following information with my readers only because it’s God’s own truth: I was sitting on the toilet reading David Brock’s Blinded By the Right and listening to the radio. It’s fitting that I was—I’m avoiding the obvious rhyme out of respect—crapping when I heard the news. You see, for years I’ve been getting letters from people who wanted me to shit all over Ann Landers. It seems that a lot of people who read my column didn’t like Ann or her sister Abigail Van Buren much, and people would write me and ask me to rip into them. Here’s a letter from the fall of 2000: “Why do you spend so much time bashing Ralph Nader? Why don’t you stick to your field and bash Ann Landers, that conservative, tight-assed, reactionary bitch?”

Some people may not know that I dedicated my first book, a collection of Savage Love columns, to Ann Landers (as well as Abigail and Xaviera Hollander). Ann Landers invented the modern advice column, and while we third-generation advice-columnists may use language she wouldn’t approve of, all of our columns are modeled after hers. The conversational tone, the guest experts, debates with readers who disagree with you—that’s Ann Landers. While Ann Landers never could wrap her perm around the fact that most cross-dressers are straight men, she was more progressive than some of my readers were willing to give her credit for. She didn’t pressure women to stay in bad marriages, her position on homosexuality changed with the times, and she was pro-gun control. Two years ago, Landers came out in favor of legalizing prostitution!

Her column ran in 1,200 papers, and in some of those papers, her voice was the only progressive voice her readers ever heard. Landers may not have entertained questions about shooting beer up your butt, or fucking your sister, but she didn’t have to. She made it possible for a freak like me to answer those questions.

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