Q: There is a guy at my work who is into puppy play. I know this because I have some friends in the gay puppy community. I don't give two shits what anyone I work with does to get off. All well and good, except . . . he wants us to call him Spike, his puppy name. Isn't this a case of him involving everyone at work in his sex life, whether we want to be involved or not? —Disturbed Over Gratuitous Gratifications of Naming Experience
A: "It's important to note, firstly, that pup play isn't a sexual activity so much as it is a head space," said Amp, a puppy, a gamer, a porn performer, and the cohost of Watts the Safeword, a kink-friendly sex-education YouTube channel. "For DOGGONE's coworker, pup play may be a comfort thing, or a social thing, or even a way for him to redefine who he is as a person so that he can take control."
Amp, who is 26 and lives in Seattle, got into pup play about five years ago.
"A daddy and his pup joined a group of friends on a gay camping trip," said Amp. "Their bond just seemed to glow, and their relationship stuck with me as something I wanted in my life. For me, yes, pup play can get sexual with my Daddy, but Amp is just who I am when I'm out and about."
Like your coworker, DOGGONE, Amp goes by his puppy name socially and professionally. So I put this question to him: Does he get a secret thrill and/or a visible boner when a coworker, barista, casual friend, or rando calls him by his pup name?
"God no!" said Amp. "If someone calls me 'pup' in a really sexual way or an aggressive way, maybe, but not when someone is simply using your name. A pup name is essentially a nickname, and people use nicknames socially and professionally. So long as the kinkier aspects of pup play—tail wagging, barking, ball chasing—are kept out of the workplace, DOGGONE's coworker using his puppy name at work doesn't involve the office in his sex life.
"DOGGONE should always respect how someone identifies and asks to be named," said Amp, "and regard the sexual or kink aspects of someone's name choice as a separate detail."
A quick thought experiment, DOGGONE: Let's say a female coworker married a man—a really hot man—and later confided in you that she married him because the sex was great. And let's say she took her new husband's last name. Would using her new last name "involve" you in her sex life? Being married partly defines who she is, it led her to take a new name, and sex is an important part of her marriage. But her new name isn't just about sex—it's about identity, intimacy, connection, and sex.
Pup play isn't as serious a business as marriage, of course, but you should be able to extend the same courtesy to Spike that you wouldn't hesitate to extend to your hypothetical straight female coworker—that is, use the names you've been asked to use without obsessing over their respective sex lives.
Q: I recently synced my phone contacts to my Twitter account. When I was scrolling through the list of people who turned up from my contacts, I saw a user name that looked out of place. It was the account of a low-key traditional-guy friend of mine. To my surprise, on the account he was dressed as a woman in a few of the pictures and was with another Twitter user who is a popular dominatrix in the area where he lives.
I'm sex-positive and support people who are gender nonconforming, of course. I also work for a porn company, so I don't judge anyone who participates in BDSM. My concern is that I don't know if this person is aware that his account can be found via a regular old social media and phone sync. I don't want him to get outed for being a fetishist or possibly being gender questioning or transgender if he does not want to be out. Should I give him a heads-up? Should I keep my mouth shut? I want to be respectful. —Knowing Isn't Necessarily Knowledge, Yes?
A: Send that traditional guy a note, KINKY, but "bury the lead," as they say in the news biz. Open with the relevant facts about yourself: "You know work for a porn company. I'm not fazed by BDSM or sex work or any sort of gender-related sex play, and I'm a big supporter of gender-nonconforming people as well as the trans community." Then let him know what you found, how you stumbled across it, and how to adjust his privacy settings.
Q: My name is Peter and I'm a longtime fan. I've also been very involved with the Human Rights Campaign and its work in getting the Equality Act passed. I'm 21 and only recently out of the closet. I opened up about my sexuality after the passage of marriage equality last June and have since been a proud gay man. It seemed that since marriage equality, our community was only going up. Even North Carolina's passage of HB2 didn't make me cynical about the future. But this recent shooting has changed my world completely. Fighting for equality in housing, education, and employment seems like a joke after this massive act of violence in Orlando. I'm looking to someone in the community for guidance. —Peter
A: They don't win—the haters don't win—when they chase us, beat us, or kill us. They win when we stop fighting.
Please don't stop fighting.
And please don't despair.
Hundreds of thousands of us died in the 1980s and '90s when hate, fear, greed, racism, and negligence intersected with a deadly virus. A lot of us felt then the way you do now—that it was over, that it was hopeless, that the coming out and the organizing and the fighting had been for nothing, and that everything we had won up to that point was meaningless. And then we got up off our butts and we showed them—we showed those motherfuckers—that the fight in us was greater than the hate in them. We showed them that we were stronger and smarter than they were, we showed that fucking virus that we were stronger and smarter than it was, and we made it clear to them that we were not going to shut up and die quietly or go back into the closet and die alone.
And we had only each other for a while there—for a long while. For years we fought alone.
Look at who is on our side today—all good and decent people everywhere. The president of the United States and the next president of the United States. Look at the rallies, look at the vigils, look at the outpouring of love, sympathy, and support. Don't look at the killer. Don't look at the haters. Don't look at the vile comments left by shit people on Twitter and Facebook. Look at the good. Look at the love.
Look at the good and loving people inside and outside the LGBT community and take strength from their love and support.
Then get out there and fight. v
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