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Savage Love: Bad or Bi 

I'm a cis woman and recently came out as a lesbian after identifying as bisexual for three years. After having sexual encounters with men and women, I finally admitted to myself that I am gay. Now that I'm finally out, I don't want to do anything that would make me feel like denying it again. My question is, am I a bad lesbian if I sleep with a guy? I'm currently working 50 hours a week and going to school. I don't have time for a relationship, and finding casual hookups with women is difficult. A male friend I know and trust recently propositioned me. At first I said no, but now I'm rethinking it. Sex with men doesn't compare at all to sex with women for me. But my mind says, "It's still sex!" and I would enjoy it to a point. I feel like I'd definitely have to hide this from my friends. And if I feel guilty enough to hide it, maybe I shouldn't do it? Finally identifying as a lesbian was like breathing out for me. But I worry that even being willing to consider this makes me seem bi. I guess I'm looking for permission and absolution. Would this make me a "bad" lesbian? Or would it mean I should identify as bi?

— Girl Asking You

I've often been accused of having a pro-dick-sitting bias, GAY, so I decided to recuse myself and pass your question on to a couple of lesbians.

"She is way too concerned with labels," said Lesbian #1. "I used to slip on a dick once every few years — before I quit drinking tequila —and that didn't make me any less of a raging, homo-romantic dyke. And if her friends give that much of a fuck about who she bones, she needs friends with more interesting hobbies."

"I don't think there is anything wrong with her or any lesbian wanting to sleep with a guy," said Lesbian #2. "I wouldn't sleep with a guy, but I do agree that women trying to casually hook up with other women is much more difficult than men with men or even men with women. Women instantly want to be your long-term partner after one hookup — the U-Haul jokes are fucking real. But if identifying as something is important to her, I think identifying as queer might be a better option for now rather than struggling to figure out if she is only bi or only lesbian and only those forever."

I'm a 32-year-old English guy, and this morning I was diagnosed as HIV-positive. I'm in a bit of a state. I haven't told anyone, and I needed to get it out. I'm in a long-term, mostly monogamous relationship, but my boyfriend is overseas for work at the moment, so I can't really talk to him about it. So I'm talking to you.

— Diagnosed And Dazed And Confused

I'm so sorry, DADAC. I hope you have a friend you can confide in, because you need a shoulder to cry on and I can't provide that for you here.

What I can provide is some perspective. I'm just a little older than you — okay, I'm a whole lot older than you. I came out in the summer of 1981 — and two years later, healthy, young gay men started to sicken and die. During the 1980s and most of the 1990s, learning you were HIV-positive meant you had a year or two to live. Today, a person with HIV is expected to live a normal life span — so long as they have access to treatment and they're taking their meds. And once you're on meds, DADAC, your viral load will fall to undetectable levels and you won't be able to pass HIV on to anyone else (undetectable = uninfectious).

I don't mean to minimize your distress, DADAC. The news you just received is distressing and life changing. But it's not as distressing as it was three decades ago, and it doesn't mean your life is over. I remember holding a boyfriend on the day he was diagnosed as HIV-positive more than 25 years ago, both of us weeping uncontrollably. His diagnosis meant he was going to die soon. Yours doesn't. You have a lot of time left, and if you get into treatment and take your meds, DADAC, you will live a long and healthy life, a life filled with love, connection, and intimacy. Spend some time feeling sorry for yourself, feel the fuck out of those feelings, and then go live your life — live it for all the guys who didn't get to celebrate their 33rd birthdays.

P.S. Don't wait until your boyfriend returns to tell him. He needs to get tested right away.

Arguably, your boyfriend and your other sex partners are safer now that you know than they were before you were diagnosed. Because it's not HIV-positive men on meds who are infecting people, it's men who aren't on meds because they don't know they're HIV-positive.

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