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Do you have problems with your love life? Hate your job? Your social life lacking that certain zing? All questions can be answered through literature—or maybe at least by the people who create it. With that in mind, we here at The Lambda Literary Review have started our very own advice column called “Reader Meet Author.” Think of the column as sort of a “Dear Abby” for the LGBTQ literary set. You can send “Reader Meet Author” questions for publication to ReaderMeetAuthor@lambdaliterary.org.
Every month readers can submit questions to a chosen LGBTQ author about love, work, and life, and the author will answer them to the best of their ability.
This month’s column is handled by author Laurie Weeks.
Laurie Weeks’ fiction and other writings have been published in The Baffler, Vice, Nest, Index, LA Weekly, and Semiotext(e)’s The New Fuck You. Her critical acclaimed novel Zipper Mouth recently won the Lambda Literary Award for Debut Lesbian Fiction.
This guy I’m dating is very religious. He says his grace before his meals. He goes to church every Sunday. He celebrates Christmas. He honors all the holy holidays. He is constantly reading and underlining the bible on the subway. I, on the other hand, don’t believe in God, but my motto is “Hey… what ever gets you through the world and provides a modicum of solace is fine, and if you aren’t hurting anybody, you can believe in Santa Claus for all I care.”
When we first started dating he asked me point blank if I believed in God and I lied and said yes. (The sex was so good, I could not let a little thing like atheism get in the way of an almost perfect sexual union.)
So as we continue dating (and the sex is getting better and better, by the way) my thoughts are drifting towards my dishonesty. Do you think it is wrong that I am lying? It is not like him thinking I am Christian is really hurting anybody…in fact I know he is loving our time together (and the great sex too…Ahmeenn). I’m thinking I should just ride this relationship till the wheels come off. My friends disagree and think I am wrong wrong wrong for lying and that I should let him go so he can find a good Christian solider. My thoughts are, “Hey, he believes in me and Jesus, and that faith—probably misplaced—does not seem to be causing any harm.”
I want to get your thoughts on the whole situation. Do you think I should give up the ghost… as it were…and tell him the truth?
–Not So Righteous
Dear Not So Righteous,
It’s true there’s no god, but SATAN IS REAL. Your encounters with Mr. Pious are only going to get hotter because there’s a furnace in Hell with your names on them. Why? Because for starters, NSR, that laissez faire motto of yours, the “Hey, whatever provides solace as long as no one’s getting hurt” cliché is not only misguided, lazy, and wrong, it’s what I like to call “Sneaky Evil”—the kind of facile self-serving homily that’s destroying the world and all the magic creatures therein. So thanks to you and Satan, the pharmaceutical/corporate/military/entertainment/fundamentalist/ Bloodbath Complex can now complete its 3,000-year goosestep toward Armageddon according to schedule (cf Mayan Calendar). So whenever you’ve got some downtime between supernova asscrobatics with Mr. P, get your “affairs” in order by Dec. 21, 2012, because you and your pal, my friend, have a massive Date with Satan, at exactly 11:11 p.m.
Whoa, that was a bit harsh, NSR!
I’m an internationally best-selling author but I’m also a medical intuitive, and that was the voice of my “Gut Feeling Overview,” which makes diagnostic pronouncements regardless of whether they make any sense to slaves of Western rationalism. I totally support religious tolerance, but that’s not the real issue here, is it? Love, respect for others, and empathy are the issues, if I’m not mistaken.
My first response, based on the impression that you were just Fuck Buddies, was “That’s his criteria for a person’s worth and the privilege of sleeping with him? Belief in the one book he’s ever read?” That’s not very tolerant or respectful, is it? Not to worry, though. By asking about your religious views, he was just following the rules to assuage his own so-called conscience. And I gather he hasn’t interrogated you further since that first pro forma interview, so it’s not like he gives a damn, really, any more than you do, right? So who cares what you tell this guy. He’s not interested, except insofar as he doesn’t have to feel guilty about the sex if it’s with a Christian. I mean, I guess. At least he doesn’t seem to be “homophobic.”
You guys seem to have been going out for a while but I don’t get the impression that you have far-ranging, nuanced post-coital conversations that challenge one another’s “spiritual” assumptions, such as they are, which suggests to me that this is nothing more than a sex thing that’ll “peter out”–sorry. Obviously, if you respected the guy, you should’ve told him the second or third time or 10th time you hung out. First few times: no problem. We all have a Get-Out-of-Jail Free card for those initial consenting encounters, since overwhelming physical desire makes everyone clinically insane, which is fantastic.
Listen, has this guy wondered why YOU don’t go to church? I’m dying to know what passages he’s underlining in the Bible. Do YOU know? Does the issue just not come up between you? Lots of people go to church on Christmas and celebrate the other holy holidays like Easter Egg hunts and so forth, but does the guy notice you don’t seem to be participating in all of this? No one gets hurt? DUDE! If you really love this guy, YOU’RE going to get hurt, because he’s self-delusional, and if he loves you, HE’s going to get hurt.
You know what? Both of you could be using your powers for good not evil, rather than wasting your lives on pretend concern with ethics. He should expand his reading repertory to include some non-religious based text and perhaps exit the subway at some USA poverty pocket to help impoverished people get food or something, and you should consider the feelings of others, because even though no one seems to be getting harmed by the situation, what if this guy’s really in love with you; and what about the invisible harm you’re causing yourself with your dishonesty?
My good girlfriend does not believe in deodorant. She is funny, intelligent, and just really a great friend, but she is also a really “natural” girl. No chemical products, only Tom’s of Maine soaps etc… etc. The problem is that she stinks. Her B.O is so bad sometimes it is hard to be around her. I think she needs something a little stronger than those natural crystals you rub under your armpits. Is there a way to break the news to her gently that her naturalness is making it hard for other folks to be around her?
— My friend is Stinky
Jesus. Bodies. When aliens genetically engineered hominids into modern humans 6,000 years ago, how hard could it’ve been to install sweet-smelling substances into the glandular system? Ah, well, water under the bridge. But your friend’s concern about introducing substances generally reserved for chemical warfare into her system is entirely reasonable. Commercial antiperspirants and deodorants alike contain not only aluminum—which as everyone knows turns you into a giant decomposing insect leaking milky fluids from every orifice, much like the fly played by Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, David Cronenberg’s classic 80s film—but other carcinogens and neurotoxins like seemingly benign substances such as paraben and talc, many forms of which contain asbestos-like fibers. Even those crystal rock things contain dangerous silica fibers. So that option is strictly reserved for emergency situations; for example when people around her begin carrying syringes of adrenalin and/or oxygen tanks/masks for their life-threatening asthma attacks.
Look, MFS, you’re a considerate person and Stinky is lucky to have a friend like you. She’s lucky to have a friend at all at this point, and you’re correct in thinking it’s time to step in now so she can have a fulfilling social life in addition to spectacular sex with someone who’s not wearing a full Hazmat suit, except for fun.
Forget gentleness; just tell her straight out. I mean, be nice about it and everything: Perhaps invite her over for cocktails and a garlic-free dinner, and later, when she asks why you’ve emerged from the bathroom wearing that mask over your nose, pretend to cry, then tell her that her armpits smell.
You might want to do this as an intervention-type thing, with a group of friends, but that kind of humiliation is the nuclear option, to be used only as a last resort, unless of course it ends up as a festive clean-an-armpit-thon/orgy, but I’m not sure who that would appeal to.
Then, barring some crazy hormonal imbalance, all she needs to do is use 100% herbal deodorants. Different ones work for different people. Except for anything by Tom’s of Maine, which works for no one. Who is that lying bastard, by the way? Some Monsanto exec laughing his way to the bank? At any rate, Weleda makes a nice Sage thing, and I’m holding in my hand a 100% chemical-free, organic device (basically a tossed salad in a tube) called “Nourish,” which works fine for me. Bathing is always a plus, too, of course, and there are natural oils like Geranium etc,. that you can dab gently around the now nest-free area. But for god’s sake, get on this. Would you or would you not kill yourself if a supposed good friend didn’t tell you something was hanging out of your nose while you flirted with, say— Pia Zadora? Answer: You’d Kill yourself. And remember my motto: Just because Nature made it doesn’t mean it’s good. Let me know what happens.
Is it all right to date someone for money? I have been seeing someone for the last couple of months and while I don’t find them physically attractive they are very rich and very generous. I enjoy her personality but honestly, deep inside, I know I am dating her because she is rich and she takes good care of me. My friends say I should only date for love blah blah blah…but it’s a drag being broke (I am broke).
I never thought I was this materialistic —but I guess I am. I have seen how the other half live and I LIKE IT!
I wanted to get your opinion on the whole dating for money thing. Is dating for comfort really such a bad thing?
Dear Material Girl,
Look, I understand your dilemma, I really do. Anyone who’s ever been broke for an extended period of time has experienced the sudden shock of understanding the formerly incomprehensible archetype of girls who marry for money and security.
Extended periods of poverty suck; they can take a terrible toll on your psyche, your health, your drive, your optimism. However, I don’t know why you’re broke nor how long you’ve been broke. Are you an artist? It takes tremendous nerve to buck the system and face down the inevitable poverty to pursue your vision, but if you’re an artist there’s the issue of ethics to deal with, or why be an artist? If you’re not an artist, you have to consider the karma caused by your dishonesty. Are you thinking of the feelings of your benefactor? Are you able to fake feelings of love? Is she in love with you or is she using money to control you and keep you on a leash, in which case it’s a mutually beneficial situation…Are you getting work done or just lolling around being a Selfish Taker concerned with no one’s feelings but your own? Is she a nice person who’s in love with you, and, if so, how is it that it’s so easy for you to fake being in love with her. That’s not so easy if you’re repulsed by someone physically–are you setting this girl up for a big crash? I can’t know these things, and again, I understand completely the allure and fun of having money to do the fun and inspiring things you’ve dreamed of without the chronic anxiety of impending doom that comes with being broke all the time, especially if you’re working your ass off on a soul-crushing day job. Nonetheless, deep in your psyche, you’re being dishonest and not taking another person’s feelings into account. It matters not what her motives are. Deep down your higher self knows what you’re doing and on some level you have to be disgusted with yourself. Some day that will boomerang on you, and it might happen only after a humiliating fall when she catches on to the fact that you’re using her.
Can you imagine the anguish this will cause her? What if you were in the position where you trusted someone you deeply loved only to find out they were just using you. That kind of betrayal is very damaging to the heart and psyche and can take a long time for someone to get over. What will the consequence be for her future relationships, her ability to trust, to enter love with an open heart as opposed to anxious suspicion? And the consequences to you can be devastating in ways you can’t at the moment foresee. You may be getting what you want on a superficial level, and it’s very seductive, but on a spiritual level you’re doing great damage to you and her. If you don’t care about that then you’re a total narcissist and I feel sorry not only for you but for anyone who gets involved with you, including me. Rich people have to contend with users like you all the time and after a while it wears them down.
Right now you’re not much better than some grifter on the Lifetime Channel who convinces vulnerable women that he loves them, only to destroy their lives. You have reduced her from a human being with real feelings—which she has taken the risk of entrusting to you—to an abstraction, a dollar sign. I’m sorry you’re broke but this is no way to get out of it. If you find a rich girl whom you’re truly in love with, fine, no harm in that, but you’ve got to stop this madness now. It’s bound to get out of control and unless you handle this with honor and ethics right now, you’re going to have a mess on your hands and your conscience, if you have one. You will have knowingly misled another person who is generous with you out of trust and you repay her with manipulations and lies for petty pleasures. We all want them, but this is no way to go about it. If you really are using her, you need to end it. I’m not sure how you should handle breaking it off, but you should do it with maximum kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy for her feelings so you don’t damage her ability to trust for all time. Maybe just say You’re not feeling the way you used to, you need to take some time, you’re feeling confused about relationships, you really love her–don’t say you’re just using her. There’s no point, really, in that.