Hey, Faggot:

I am a 25-year-old fag. Recently, I’ve been experiencing “memories” from my childhood. They’re very disturbing, but I’m not sure if they’re real. I seem to remember an uncle (my mom’s brother) giving me a brownie when I was about four years old, and feeling kind of dizzy and confused afterward. It may have been laced with pot. Then I seem to remember him showing me sexually explicit comic books, and talking about sexual things with me. Sounds believable so far, but then I think I remember him discussing weird occult, metaphysical bullshit, and this is where I start to doubt myself.

Anyway, I think I told my mom about it even though I promised not to, and I kind of remember her getting very angry and confronting him, yelling and screaming. I don’t remember actually being molested, though. Maybe it never got that far, or maybe I just blocked it out. I only started “remembering” these things a year and a half ago. Today, I’m fairly well-adjusted. I have no sexual interest in children. I have been in a stable relationship with a wonderful boyfriend for about two years now, but these “memories” still puzzle me. I know you’ll probably tell me this is just internalized homophobia, but in the back of my mind, I wonder if I would’ve been heterosexual if this hadn’t happened to me.

I feel that if I knew the truth about what happened, then I could get on with my life. I think I deserve to know, but I don’t know where to turn. The only people I can think of who could give me some answers are my mom and my uncle, and I don’t want to confront either of them.

When I came out to my mom, she took it very hard, and the last thing I want to do is make her associate pedophilia with homosexuality. My uncle is mentally and emotionally disturbed. He’s always pissed off, muttering angry things to himself, and frankly, he scares me. I’m afraid if I confront him, he might snap. I’m thinking about therapy, but I’m suspicious about repressed memory therapies in general, and besides, I don’t have a very steady income right now, so I probably couldn’t afford it anyway. I don’t know what to do. –Looking for Answers

Hey, LFA:

The problem isn’t what did or didn’t happen to you when you were a child. The problem is, you guessed it, your own grown-up internalized homophobia. Childhood sexual abuse does not dictate adult sexual orientation. So the question isn’t “What happened?” but why, if you’re “fairly well-adjusted” and “in a stable relationship with a wonderful boyfriend,” you suddenly feel the need to lay the responsibility for your sexuality at the feet of your crazy, abusive old uncle? There is nothing wrong with being gay, so it can’t be anyone’s “fault,” and no one is to blame. You’re gay because you’re gay, not because you were (or may have been) molested, and not because your uncle fed you dope, showed you dirty pictures, and laid a metaphysical mindfuck on your four-year-old head.

You know, I can’t remember a single thing that happened to me when I was four years old, and according to my mother it was an eventful year: I had my tonsils out, and I was run over by a car. That you’re “remembering” conversations–to say nothing of conversations you had after eating hash brownies–at four seems a bit of a stretch. You’ll probably never know “the truth” of what happened that day, if anything beyond what you’ve already “remembered” happened at all, and “the truth” won’t change anything: “the truth” won’t make you straight.

I don’t doubt that the event you’re remembering could’ve taken place, but it sounds like you’re embellishing and perhaps adding details and weight to it in order to fill in the blanks. Not the blanks in the event, but the blanks in your own understanding of who you are and how you came to be who you are. It’s tempting to pin the sum of who we are as adults on some monumental childhood experience or trauma, but life is rarely so neat and tidy. You are the sum of countless good and bad experiences, genetic and biological imperatives; your entire life does not hinge on whether or not your uncle got you stoned and groped you 21 years ago. You need to see a shrink, but a “recovered memory” snake-oil peddler could do you serious damage. Find a shrink who can address what’s really going on: self-hatred and self-doubt, and who can help you let go of that half-formed memory, forgive your uncle, and get on with your adult gay life. Good luck.

Hey, Faggot:

I met this girl on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. We seemed to hit it off and enjoyed each other’s company. For various reasons, I decided to take things slow, but it still seemed like I was getting green light signals. Little things, like walking arm in arm, hand in hand on occasion, good-night kisses, the way she said things and looked at me, etc. I thought there was a real spark. I took her to nice restaurants and every time she came over there was a present of some sort (flowers, etc) waiting for her. Real old-fashioned dating rituals. Then on our Valentine’s celebration–by now our fifth date–she mentioned her boyfriend with whom she’s committed and has been for five years.

The friend who fixed us up had mentioned a boyfriend, but it was more to the effect that she was breaking up and trying to get rid of him. When I discussed this matter with my date, she said she thought we were just friends from the beginning and there were no romantic feelings from her side. But the presents, etc? She just thought I was a really nice guy. So, two questions: how could I have fucked up so bad in the interpretation of her signals–do I need to take a class or something? How should I confront the mutual friend?

The girl and I agreed we had enjoyed each other, but I told her I would need time to myself to adjust and maybe then we could start fresh and become good friends. –Crossed Wires

Hey, CW:

You weren’t misreading her signals–she was misleading you. She let you assume things that weren’t true–as good as lying–allowing you to believe she was single, available, and interested. And she did so with complete disregard for your feelings! You don’t need to “take a class”–she needs to get some. You have every right to be pissed off, and I suggest you exercise your rights. And it’s her you need to confront, not your mutual friend. This woman deceived you and could very well have deceived your friend. Check with the mutual friend, confront the “girlfriend.”

Friends, even good ones, do not buy us chocolate, send us flowers, walk arm in arm, or celebrate Valentine’s Day together, for Christ’s sake. And responsible adults do not allow people they’re not interested in to do those things for them. She didn’t think you were a “nice guy,” she thought you were a sucker, and she played you for one. Get mad.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.