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Dan Savage 

Dan Savage says Bristol Palin can choose whatever her mom tells her to.

Q: I'm a middle-aged guy. My boyfriend has just left his teens. We originally got to know each other because I like to tie up muscular young guys and he's a muscular young guy who likes getting tied up. But he's a smart, funny kid and after a few months we started actually liking each other. Not to get all mushy on you, but at some point that "like" turned to love.

Here's the problem: My boyfriend's parents---who are a little younger than I am---were snooping around in his room and found video clips on his computer that clearly illustrated our activities. He still lives with his parents and they were, prior to this discovery, entirely ignorant of their son's sexual orientation and sexual interests. They're now threatening all the things asshole parents usually threaten: To kick him out, to stop paying for school, to disown him.

He's stayed at my place many times and my first reaction was, "Come live with me, you don't need that kind of crap in your life." But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it's the right thing to do. They are his family. Would I really be acting in his best interests if I helped him walk away from them, even as horrible as they're acting? I can put him up at my place. I can pay for his schooling. Heck, I'd be proud to do it. But I wonder if I'd be facilitating a decision he'd one day come to regret. Plus, we're in Boston and he isn't yet 21. On top of everything else, is there a chance the law could decide to bite me in the ass?

---Not The Bad Guy

A: I really can't do my best work, NTBG, without actually seeing those video clips. But let me give it a shot...Your boyfriend is of legal age, so I don't see how you could be in trouble with the law, unless those videos were made before he reached the age of consent. His parents might not like that their son is gay and a bondage freak, or that he's involved with an older man, but there's not a lot they can do.

Besides, of course, tossing him out, disowning him and refusing to pay for his education.

If they do toss him out and refuse to pay for his education, NTBG, you should take him in and pay for his education. Don't do anything---or anything else---that might antagonize your boyfriend's parents. No confrontations, no accusations, no scenes. Write them one polite letter. Tell them you appreciate how distressing it must have been for them to learn about their son's interests the way that they did, and tell them that, despite how they may have interpreted those video clips, you mean no harm, you love him and that you intend to look out for him and keep him in school. Close by telling them you're going to encourage your boyfriend to keep lines of communication open.

It could be emotionally tricky for a while, perhaps a long while, as his parents adjust to the big kinky news. But that's what happens when you snoop: Sometimes you find out things that you didn't want to know, didn't need to know or weren't ready to know.

As for the boyfriend, it's entirely possible that he may one day blame you for his estrangement from his parents. You can inoculate yourself against those charges by refusing to come between him and his parents, and making sure he sees you doing whatever you can to lay the groundwork for an eventual reconciliation.

Moving on, NTBG, you say you're in love, and that's swell. But just between us grown-ups: Very few people wind up with the person they met and fell in love with in their teens. At best, you'll have a few great years with this kid. But this can be a really successful relationship even if, as the song goes, "it's only for now," if you play your cards right. And unless his parents are seriously nuts and your boyfriend desperately needs the legal protections of marriage---he needs you to be his next of kin in case of a medical emergency, for instance---I wouldn't marry his hot and kinky 20-year-old ass if I were you. And if he does need the legal protections of marriage, make him sign a prenup.Speaking of hot teenagers and asshole parents and vows that you may come to regret...

The 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice-presidential nominee, is pregnant. The news was released by the McCain campaign during a busy news week---a major hurricane, the Republican National Convention, Dick Cheney getting us into a war with Russia---so it may not have received the coverage it deserved. So allow me to bring you up to date, gentle readers...

Seventeen-year-old Bristol got her ass knocked up five or so months ago by 18-year-old Levi Johnston. Among hobbies listed on Levi's since-yanked MySpace page---"fishing, shoot some shit, and just fuckin' chillin'"---was this revealing tidbit: "I don't want kids." But Bristol, says her mom, "made the decision on her own to keep the baby," and is now engaged to Levi "Shootin' Shit" Johnston.

As an adoptive parent of a child born to unwed teenagers, I'm not in favour of abortion in all circumstances. But it's a choice teenagers should be able to make---with input from their families whenever possible---and, so it seems, does the GOP's VP nominee. Sarah Palin is pleased that her daughter made the decision---on her own---to keep the baby.

But Sarah Palin doesn't believe that other girls should be able to make their own decisions. Sarah Palin believes abortion should be illegal in almost every instance---including rape and incest. So Bristol Palin is being celebrated for making a choice that Sarah Palin would like to take away from all other American women. Apparently, today's GOP believes that choice is a right reserved for the wayward daughters of Republican elected officials.Oh, and Sarah Palin also believes that birth control shouldn't be made available to teenagers, she opposes medically accurate sex education and she backs abstinence-until-marriage sex "education."Sigh. The GOP has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into abstinence "education" programs during the Bush years. I believe this enormous investment of public funds begs the obvious question: Are our children abstaining? Sarah Palin's aren't. Despite this expensive, tax-funded outlay and the example set by her Christian parents, Bristol became sexually active while still in high school. Excuse me, but if abstinence education can't keep the daughter of the evangelical governor of Alaska off the cock, what hope is there for the daughters---and some of the sons---of average Americans?

I'm a cad for even writing this, of course, because shortly before Bristol and Levi were paraded before cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention, the Palins asked the media to respect their daughter's privacy.Another special right: When it comes to respecting your family's privacy, Palin and the GOP see no need. They want to micromanage the most intimate aspects of your private life. And if their own kids fail to live up to the standards that Palin and the GOP seek to impose on your family, well, that's a private matter between the Palins, their daughter, their God and thousands of screaming imbeciles in elephant hats waving McCain/Palin signs on the floor of the Republican National Convention.

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