Dan Savage: Today's rant is about shapeshifter sex. Or, actually, it's about answering questions about shifter sex, especially ones from non-shifters. You may have noticed that we haven't had any on the show for a while. That's not because I wasn't getting any. I still get tons. It's because I'd done so many that I felt like that topic had been beaten to death. But my callers obviously don’t feel like they already knew everything there was to know about the subject. A lot of them are not shifters and are dating a shifter for the first time, and this is all totally new territory for them.
Now, in the time this show’s been running, a whole lot of shifters have called in about the implications of answering these questions. If you're a regular listener, you know what sort of questions I'm talking about:
“Is it bestiality to have sex when one person is human or in a human form and the other is in a shift form, is it bestiality if you're both shifted, is it okay regardless so long as everyone's a consenting adult, what if my human form is underage but my shift form is fully mature or vice versa, can having sex when one person's shifted and one isn't get someone pregnant or transmit diseases, is it okay to have sex while shifted with actual animals of the same species and is that bestiality, how do I tell my non-shifter partner I do or don't want to have sex with them in my shift form, how do I tell my shifter partner I do or don't want to have sex with them in their shift form, is it kinky for a prey shifter and a predator shifter to have shifted sex, if you've only had sex when you're shifted are you still a virgin, can a non-shifter make a male sea horse shifter pregnant and if so does the gender of the non-shifter partner matter, and does it count as shifted sex and possibly bestiality if I only shift a) my eyes, b) my ears, c) my dick, d) my tentacles?”
A lot of shifters have pointed out to me that all these issues have already been very thoroughly hashed out within their communities. Of course, just because something's been widely discussed doesn't mean there's a consensus or one correct answer for it. But that's why I try to bring in shifter guests to discuss these issues. However, I also get shifters calling in to say that not only is it offensive that non-shifters imagine that they’re the first person to ever wonder about these questions, but it's also offensive that I imply that their ignorance is okay by answering them rather than telling them to go educate themselves.
THIS IS A SEX-ED SHOW, PEOPLE. If you're calling in, you are educating yourself.
But back to non-shifters asking questions that are incredibly basic to shifters, yes, it's annoying. Yes, it's due to non-shifter privilege. But if you’re not from a community yourself, and especially if it’s a minority community, you do not automatically know these things. When I was a young gay man, I got all sorts of ignorant questions from straight friends. The big one was “Do all gay men have anal sex?” I got so sick of answering that question. But I did. Every fucking time. And answering that question led to me doing Savage Love, so it all worked out in the end.
Anyway, shifters, think of yourselves as today’s equivalent of all the gay men who had to answer the fucking question about ass fucking to all their straight friends who they couldn’t just tell to fuck off because, by and large, if you tell your friends to go fuck themselves they will stop being your friends. You can say it’s none of their business. You can tell them to look it up on the internet, or call Savage Love, or read a book, or find it out any way but asking some poor shifter who did not volunteer to be the Shifter Expert. All of that’s totally fine. But if you or someone else wants to answer, then answering is also fine.
In the wider picture, educating people is good. If you don’t want to do it, that is 100% your right. But don’t yell at the people who are doing it. All us gay men who were willing to educate kept saying, “No, not all gay men love ass (though lots of us do) and it’s okay if you do and it’s okay if you don’t.” For years. And years. And now most straight people who aren’t homophobic assholes get that. And I know young gay men who’ve never heard that question and hopefully never will. Because the older generation answered it fifty million times, until it finally sunk in.
So shifters, you don’t have to explain anything to anyone who’s not your sexual partner. But before you call up to yell at me for explaining, imagine a world in which you never have to hear the fucking “is this beasty” question again, because the people who didn't mind answering it answered and answered and answered until non-shifters finally fucking got it.
And now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s move on to a different sort of relationship problem between a shifter and a non-shifter.
Caller: Hi, Dan. I’m a 25-year-old gay non-shifter man with a sexual problem you’ve probably never come across before—
Dan Savage: I really doubt that, but hit me.
Caller: I’m in a relationship with my own butt.
Dan Savage: I don’t know how to break it to you, but lots and lots of people are in exclusive relationships with their own erogenous zones. In fact we pretty much all are at some point in our lives or another. When I was a teenager, my hand and my dick had been going steady for years.
Caller: No, I don’t mean like that. I’m in a relationship with a separate… sentient… flying… butt. My own separate sentient flying butt.
Dan Savage: Congratulations. That is new. How do you sit down?
Caller: Well, I still have my own butt. I mean the one that’s attached to my body. I just also have this other butt— actually, he's a clone of my own butt— that I’m having sex with. He just showed up one day and started pounding me in the butt.
Dan Savage: In your currently-attached-to-your-body, non-sentient, non-flying butt.
Dan Savage: Can we call them Flying Butt and Body Butt, to be clear?
Caller: Sure, Dan.
Dan Savage: And when you say pounding— I’m sorry, I’m having a little trouble visualizing this— Flying Butt is pounding Body Butt? Are you using "pounding" to just mean sex? Wait, let me get more specific. Are you putting your dick, which I hope to God is still attached to your body, inside Flying Butt?
Caller [laughs]: My penis is definitely not detachable. And no, my flying butt is pounding me in the butt— I mean, in my body butt— day and night. I’m getting pounded into the floor. Into the mattress. Into the wall.
Dan Savage: But by pounding, do you mean humping you? Sorry to keep harping on the mechanics, but the clone butt is just a butt, it doesn’t have a dick, right? Or is it using a dildo, like gripped between its cheeks or up its asshole?
Caller: No, he has a cock. He’s a butt with wings— he was made of DNA from my butt, my brain, and a bald eagle— but he’s also a very hot gay man.
Dan Savage: Oh, you mean he's a shifter. A flying butt shifter.
Caller: Yeah, but he's not the usual sort of shifter. Instead of transforming from one form to the other, or having attributes of two forms, he’s both forms simultaneously. Like, he’s a winged butt, but at the same time, he’s a wild and horny gay man. It’s a little hard to explain.
Dan Savage: Yeah, to be honest I’m still having a tough time picturing this, but let’s skip that for now. So you’ve got a hot gay flying butt— your hot gay butt— pounding you. What’s the problem?
Caller: His buddies.
Dan Savage: Ah.
Caller: Yeah, I’m totally happy with being pounded in the butt by my own butt. But he keeps bringing over his friends, and then they pound me in the butt too.
Dan Savage: Okay, let me stop you right there. Is Flying Butt asking you in advance if you want to be pounded by his pals?
Caller: Oh, yeah, I don’t want to imply that this is non-consensual or not negotiated.
Dan Savage: Well, good.
Caller: We’re in an open relationship. I have a very open butt. His buddies are all hot, horny hard buds who love pounding me in the butt. And I love being pounded in the butt.
Dan Savage: I’m still not seeing the problem here…
Caller: His buddies are all like him: they’re simultaneously sizzling hot, hard-bodied gay men and anthropomorphized creatures or objects or concepts. Like a firm of T-Rex lawyers—
Dan Savage: Okay.
Caller: And jet planes. And the color-changing dress that was an internet meme. And leftover pad Thai from my favorite restaurant around the corner that I need to remember to eat before it goes bad.
Dan Savage: That’s a little unusual, but…
Caller: And my own concept of linear time.
Dan Savage: You’re getting pounded in the butt by your own concept of linear time.
Dan Savage: What is that like?
Caller: Well, Dan, it’s kind of confusing. On the one hand, it’s fucking amazing hardcore gay action. On the other hand, last month I was double-teamed by the sociopolitical implications of Putin influencing the American Presidential election in order to install a tiny-handed fascist Cheeto in the White House, and by the historical precedents of Trump’s demagogic takeover of America for the purposes of personal profit and destroying all the best ideals of our nation.
Dan Savage: That only sounds fucking amazing in the sense of amazingly fucked up.
Caller: You'd think, but it was surprisingly hot in a dirtybadwrong way. But afterward I felt really gross. So I put my foot down on all sex with embodiments of evil.
Dan Savage: Did Flying Butt respect that?
Caller: Yes, he did. We had a great conversation, and he totally understood and won’t invite those sorts of personifications again. But he’s still inviting non-evil abstract concepts, like my annoyance at Facebook friend requests from people who seem vaguely familiar without me being sure exactly who they are or how I know them, or my eerie existential worry that I'm in a Savage Love/Tingleverse crossover Yuletide story, to come pound me in the butt.
Dan Savage: Have you said, “No inviting any abstract concepts?”
Caller: Well… No. See, they’re just so hot. But it’s also weird and confusing. I can’t bring myself to say no, and I enjoy the sex, but afterward I feel unsettled and like my sense of reality is shaken.
Dan Savage: Have you told Flying Butt how you feel?
Caller: Well… No. I’m afraid if I do, he’ll stop inviting them. And I’m not sure I want him to stop.
Dan Savage: Got it. You know, it’s interesting how a lot of people’s problems have freaky-sounding trappings, like butts with wings and worry that you're a fictional character in surreal self-published Amazon erotica and having anal sex with the personification of your sneaking suspicion that your discomfort with Tumblr gender identity headcanons for anime characters means you're an old man yelling at clouds. But when you look past the freak flags— and I admit, they are flying high on this one— the problem turns out to not actually be about the weird shit.
You do not have a problem with the fact that you’re having sex with a disembodied winged butt. You do not have a problem with his conceptual ass-pounding friend network. You do not have a problem with your butt— with either of your butts. You have a problem with your head.
You’re feeling conflicted about something, and you’re not telling your partner about this, and so he keeps doing the thing that’s bothering you because he has no idea that it’s even an issue. This is the world’s most common relationship problem, and it has the world’s most obvious solution. It's irrelevant that your partner happens to be a flying butt. The important part is that he cannot know how you feel unless you tell him. So FUCKING TELL HIM. You may also want to see a therapist about this. A lot of people find that counseling can be very helpful in sorting out complicated mixed feelings.
But first… talk to the butt.