I recently met an ambitious, attractive, charming, talented, and terrific young woman. One major problem, though: it turns out this close friend, whom I felt so strongly about, is a racist. Although she has never explicitly voiced her racism, it’s apparent in some subtle comments she’s made. Learning my friend harbored these feelings hurt me. Apparently it wasn’t obvious to her that I come from a multiracial background. I’m saddened and upset. Do you have any idea how one goes about healing from this kind of experience? –Wounded

If you met this ambitious, attractive, charming, talented, and terrific young racist “recently,” just how close a friend could she possibly be? Not all that close, I would argue, and therefore your “wounded” routine seems a bit overblown. Yes, W, it’s always disappointing–upsetting even–when someone whose acquaintance we’ve recently made turns out to be a flaming asshole, whether they’re racist or sexist or monarchist or whateverist. That’s why you should allow for plenty of time to get to know someone before making yourself too vulnerable. If you’d waited to learn more about this woman before you decided she was all that and the now proverbial bag of chips, you wouldn’t have been hurt when she proved to be none of that and wholly lacking in chips.

How do you go about healing from this traumatic experience? You make up your mind to get over it–stop that pathetic wallowing right now, dammit!–and resolve to take things a bit slower next time you meet someone. And finally, W, whatever the color of your skin–and I suspect it’s as white or whiter than my own–you might want to think about thickening it a bit.

I’m a film student at Columbia University, and for our senior project my friends and I have decided to make a porn movie. We’re not sure yet if it will be an actual porn film or a semidocumentary. We want this to be a serious work of art. How do we get people to act in this movie? How do we convince people to have sex on-screen?

–Uneasy Director

Here’s how you convince people to have sex on-screen: you pay them lots of money, half in advance and half when you (and your performers) are finished shooting. Most people who’ll agree to have sex on-screen don’t give a shit whether it’s an actual porn film or a semidocumentary. They’re in movies for the money, UD, just as you hope to be one day.

My girlfriend and I moved in together a few months ago, and I occasionally find myself waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds and motions of her masturbating in bed. She vehemently denies that she’s doing this. She’s an open-minded, liberated woman, and I can’t imagine that she would be ashamed of masturbating. Is she doing it in her sleep? Is this even possible? If so, what are some of the theories explaining why? –Wondering

It’s entirely possible that your liberated girlfriend masturbates in her sleep: women have wet dreams, just like guys, though they do leave less evidence behind. As for theories, well, it could be that she’s going to bed horny, or she’s having erotic dreams about Orrin Hatch, or she’s just really excited about her new sheets. To convince your girlfriend that she’s a late-night masturbator I suggest you purchase a camcorder and hide it under the bed. The next time she has a go at herself in the middle of the night, retrieve your camcorder and make a “semidocumentary.”

Shame on you, Dan Savage! In response to Woman Into Guys you said, “women willing to tolerate men who cross-dress are few and far between.” When I’m out in drag and I tell women I meet that I’m not gay their eyes light up! Right now I have the most understanding, sweet, and wonderful girlfriend in the world, and like my last five girlfriends she knew I wore dresses before we went out! She thinks I look hot in “uniform” and also thinks I look hot in a suit. WIG’s boyfriend could easily find women into cross-dressing by simply being dressed up when he meets them. (It would help, though, if he lived in NYC or SF.) If WIG’s boyfriend should “feel like he won the lottery” because he found someone who tolerates his cross-dressing, then apparently I win the lottery all the time!

–Won the Lottery

Thanks for writing, WTL, but I stand by my advice. Since you’re primarily meeting women at cross-dressing parties–which is a good strategy–you’re not exactly meeting a random sample. Women at the parties you go to have preselected themselves as drag-positive by turning up at these functions in the first place. Which is all good for you, but since most male cross-dressers don’t live in New York City or San Francisco (statistics show most live in Calgary and Nashville), most meet women the old-fashioned way, i.e., wearing gender-appropriate clothing. Again, I say cross-dressers who find themselves with women who tolerate or, better still, thrill to the sight of men in dresses should count themselves lucky indeed.

I just wanted to say that TranZGrrlla is full of shit. She said that women shouldn’t date men who cross-dress because these guys will want sex-change operations at some point. I am a 30-year-old cross-dresser who enjoys the occasional fantasy role reversals in bed and I am perfectly happy being a male! I have no desire to grow breasts or cut off my dick! I do not think of myself as a lesbian! There is a difference between transsexuals who feel that they are women and transvestites who just get off on wearing the clothes. Most of us are very happy being men! –Happy Male in Panties

But if you ever do get a sex change, HMIP, do me this small favor: don’t run around dressed up like my grandmother. Most of the women-born-women I know dress in jeans, T-shirts, and boots and wear little if any makeup. Why is it that most of the male-to-female transsexuals I know dress in matronly skirts and blouses in Peter Pan collars, have complicated “hairdos,” and wear lots and lots of makeup? What gives?

I’m a 24-year-old straight male with a girlfriend. I’ve always had a thing for wearing women’s underwear, starting from when I was 12. I wear them around my apartment and masturbate in them. My GF would freak out if she knew. When I put a pair on I know I’m going to have to come in them, but I just can’t seem to stop myself from wearing them. Any advice on how to kick this habit? –Wants Out of Panties

Sorry, no advice for you. No matter how much time you spend rationalizing your fetish–however long you overthink your kink–you can’t make it go away. For as long as you live panties will turn you on, and like HMIP and WTL you’ll just have to accept and celebrate your harmless fetish. If beating off in panties is something you enjoy doing alone, then there’s no need to tell the GF. If you fantasize about wearing panties in front of other people, then tell the GF or dump her and move to SF or NYC, where you can hang out in bars with WTL.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to letters@savagelove.net