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They want our sex. (letter from the editor in chief).

Every summer The Advocate publishes a special double issue with a theme. We've been doing it for years. But you haven't quite lived until you've experienced the staff of the nation's leading gay and lesbian newsmagazine putting together a "sex issue" in just two weeks. It's very intense. You have the creative staff (just people, really) flailing around in a heated state over the subject matter--which, let's face facts, is everybody's hot-button issue, regardless of sexual orientation.

Since we knew that the sex issue would have to hit a lot of marks and please a lot of different people, including our readers, the editorial meetings were very Advocateish. By that I mean nerve-racking, cooperative, argumentative, exciting, fun, and productive. "What's really appropriate to say or show?" "What's sexy, and to whom?" "What's hot, and what's sleazy?" "What's going too far, and who decides?" "What are we really trying to say with the sex issue?" "Why is the sex issue different from any other Advocate issue? After all, wasn't our pride issue (Young & Gay in the USA) pretty sexy? Wasn't our gay priest issue really about gay priests, the church, and sex?"

Actually, isn't being gay really about sex when it all shakes out? If you analyze it, no one cares who we go to dinner with or who we go to the movies with or who we create feminist theory with or who we go dancing with or even who we room with. They care who we sleep with. That's the defining activity that costs us our safety and our human rights. Insane but true. You gotta wonder why anyone would care. Why are people stuck on this part of our lives? Is it because they're stuck on that part of their lives?

From the promiscuous to the monogamous and everything in between, we all experience some level of discomfort about sex. It's in our genes--not the gay ones. It's been passed on and passed on by our forefathers and foremothers throughout time. Sex drives every thing around us and sells anything in the entertainment business. You can add romance or mystery or violence, but if it's selling, look closely: It's sex. (Fantasizing back to our presexual days with movies like ET or Dumbo doesn't count in this discussion.)

So let's say that into this complex soup of anxiety and human desire we drop a tiny pearl of difference called homosexuality--look out! People are already freaked-out enough about hetero sex. Now they have to think about sex between people of the same sex? They can't. Then they can't stop. And if they're insecure enough, they turn into loons like Fred Phelps and attack us, hoping to make it go away.

Immediately the word gay becomes interchangeable with the word sex. That's what makes us different from the mainstream, so that's what we are to them. A lot of people are stuck on our sex, and--let's be truthful--so are a lot of us.

Why then would The Advocate, a serious newsmagazine, dive headfirst into this sizzling subject matter? Isn't it enough that people dwell on our sexuality anyway? Must we offer up more writings, photos, news stories, drawings, columns, and interviews for far-right fodder?

Well, yes. Obviously, that's not our purpose, but why should we dodge this part (note part, not all) of our rich and loving lives? We are not ashamed. We know sex is a huge subject, and we have a lot of respect for it. That's what we hope to accomplish in this issue.

Bruce Steele's interview with Robert Gant, from TV's sexiest show ever, Queer as Folk, is primarily a strong coming-out story--Gant is the first gay actor playing a gay character to come out while his show is still on the air since Ellen DeGeneres. What's more, the interview sits beautifully in our sex issue because sexuality is something Gant has spent years dealing with himself.

And how are everyday gay people of all ages and backgrounds dealing with sex these days? The answers to our special Sex Poll will surprise many of you. Additionally, we have put together portraits of all kinds of gay people living in all corners of America. It's a strong sign of the times that they have a lot to say about sex and that they're willing to say it.
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Author:Wieder, Judy
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Aug 20, 2002
Previous Article:Watching the watchers. (last word).
Next Article:Pro Bono. (reader forum).

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