Last week, I appeared at a “Savage Love Live” event at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. Questions are submitted on index cards at SLL events, which allows questioners to remain anonymous and forces them to be succinct. The crowd at Radford was large and inquisitive. The students submitted more questions than I could possibly hope to answer in two hours — and Radford students also managed to stump me. Twice. I promised the crowd that I would get answers for the two stumpers and answer as many of their other questions as I could in this week’s column. And here we go…
Can you get AIDS or an STI from a dead body? Just wondering.
This is one of the two questions that stumped me. I promised to get an answer, and here it is: “As long as this isn’t a thinly veiled necrophilia question, the answer is no,” says Caitlin Doughty, a mortician, founder of the Order of the Good Death, and the star of the popular, hilarious, and informative “Ask a Mortician” YouTube video series. “When the AIDS epidemic first hit in the ’80s, there were terrible stories about funeral homes that would charge more for bodies with HIV/AIDS or flat out tell the family the body was a threat and needed to be cremated immediately. Thankfully, that’s now considered wildly unethical and incorrect. Unless you’re an embalmer or coroner and dealing closely with all manner of fresh corpse fluids, there should be almost zero risk to you.”
Is it okay to want to be single for 15 more years?
More and more people are delaying marriage or remaining single — you might want to read Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men and Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone — so yeah, it’s okay. It’s generally okay to make your own choices and live your own life.
Do you have any advice for non-openly-gay people at a school where gays are almost nonexistent?
Recognize that you’re part of the problem. The non-openly-gay people at your school — you and the other closeted gays — create a negative nonexistence feedback loop. You don’t come out because no one’s out, and no one comes out because you’re not out. My advice: If you’re in a position to come out, come out. If you’re not in a position to come out, make plans to get to a place where you can come out. And in the meantime, refrain from whining about a problem that your choices and/or limitations contribute to creating.
Can you get a yeast infection from licking a yeast infection?
Another stumper, another guest expert: “Wet folds are a great place for yeast to grow,” says Dr. Anna Kaminski, associate medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, “especially if other things are a little out of balance. For example, a woman might be more prone to yeast infections due to other things in the vagina — spermicide, blood, antibiotic-induced changes in vaginal pH balance, or hormonal changes. But mouths are really good at keeping yeast in check. So it would be unusual for a person to get a yeast infection orally — unless you suffer from something that predisposes you to oral yeast infections, e.g., you are on antibiotics, you are immunocompromised, you have bad oral hygiene.”
I’ve always considered myself a lesbian, but a few weeks ago, I got really drunk and slept with one of my male best friends. Am I not a lesbian?
Female sexuality is a lot more fluid, as they say, and many lesbian-identified women have slept with men. Your sexuality identity — the label you choose to apply to yourself — should communicate the essential truth about your sexual interests and partner preferences. So you’re free to identify as a lesbian even if you slip and fall on the occasional dick.
Okay, Radford, that was fun, but we’re out of room. Thanks for the invite and the great event!
Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.