A Note on ‘Curing’ Heterosexuality (Puppy Power Mystery Mix)

Puppy play. (Original photograph by The Stranger.)

There is a long, hard joke in there somewhere involving basic Freudian propositions of differentiation between polymorphous equivalence in pleasure seeking and genital focus. And with a setup like, that, well, right. But it did come about that in the wake of an embarrassing trial and subsequent, obvious verdict against a conversion therapy outfit called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a friend mused on the thought of whether or not humanity might achieve a cure for heterosexuality.

The unfortunately requisite disclaimer here is threefold; there is an obvious cure, it is an obvious joke, and there are still people in the world who would take such a joke as some manner of genuine threat. No, we’re not coming to apply anti-straight conversion therapy.

To the other ....

Last weekend, I was hanging out at the Cuff, the leather bar at 13th and Pine, when a man to my left pulled out a pink rubber ball.


Something about a setup like that goes here, but here’s another morbid joke, and this one almost worth recounting. In Oregon, some twenty-three years ago, we all argued and snarled and prepared to vote over whether or not to amend the state constitution in order to ostracize homosexuals. The effort was led by the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance. You’ll find all sorts of fun people in there, including the infamous Scott Lively. They failed in 1992, but that was also the year Colorado passed Amendment 2, leading to Romer v. Evans, and conservatives still aren’t finished muttering about judicial activism because they can’t simply vote to violate the constitution.

But there was also a man named Phillip Ramsdell, and his contribution to the Gay Fray in Oregon that year was beyond anything you might believe. The Voter’s Guide that year was huge, nearly two hundred pages owing to the number of interested parties sounding off on Measure 9.

Mr. Ramsdell’s contribution to the Voter’s Guide was an incredible list, an insane appeal about the perversity of homosexuals. And while it is true I knew certain sexual behaviors existed, it is also true I did not know the specific terms. Like coprophilia. Or a rimjob. Thus it is also true that it wasn’t all for naught; I learned something from the Christian activist Phillip Ramsdell. Watersports, I’d heard of. Infantilism. In truth I remember being surprised there wasn’t a better name for it than fisting.

Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nineteen. Nineteen.

Never mind. Okay, five points if you know what that joke means.

But this list was a gift that keeps on giving. Because not only was it excruciatingly hilarious to sit and try to read through, there was also the obvious punch line: You know, straight people can do this stuff, too.

But wait. There’s more.

There is a Puritan Pornography Punchline, as well: I wonder how many fine Oregon Christians just found a few ideas to spice up their marital romance.

But that’s the thing. It isn’t a matter of curing heterosexuality per se, and for reasons that seem rather quite obvious. But the basic conflict between purpose-driven genital-reproductive focus and the need to let one’s freak flag fly occasionally results in some perverse, even dangerous results. And, quite frankly, devising code words for sexual temptation under a pretense of morality―you know, tempting yourself in order to prove you’re not tempted, or something like that―or starting decades-long campaigns against homosexuals and transgendered people is actually more persistently and dangerously perverse than addressing your anal-retentive sexuality by actually putting on a diaper.

Seriously, heterosexuality will be cured―

Last weekend, I was hanging out at the Cuff, the leather bar at 13th and Pine, when a man to my left pulled out a pink rubber ball. He held it up in the air, and around the patio half a dozen guys suddenly dropped what they were doing and turned to stare. He swayed his arm a few times, the men in front of him following every move with their eyes—and then, with a quick flick, he tossed the ball into the middle of the crowd, provoking furious barks as they all clambered over each other, desperate to snatch the ball and return it to him, or maybe just retreat to a corner to blissfully chew on it.

This was the scene at the monthly mosh held by Seattle Pups and Handlers (SEA-PAH), our local puppy-play group. Surely you’ve heard of puppy play: It’s surging in popularity among the gays, and, if history is any guide, will be surging among the straights in five years when we’ve moved on to something else.

Let’s be clear about this. Puppy play means role-playing as a dog, down on all fours and barking, and yes, it’s weird. Of course it is. But I know you’re not the sort of person who uses “weird” as a pejorative term, because you’re reading The Stranger. You weirdo.

If you’re having trouble understanding the appeal of puppy play, just imagine how amazing it would be if there were a form of group relaxation where you could empty your mind of all your cares, forget all of your responsibilities, lower all of your defenses, and bypass small talk forever. Now imagine that vigorous cuddling and praise are key components of this relaxation technique. And did I mention snacks? You get snacks. Awesome. Why aren’t we pupping right now?

The rules are simple: There aren’t any.

“The entry level is so low and nonthreatening,” SEA-PAH vice president pup Amp told me. All a puppy has to do, he explained, is relax and switch their brain from that of a logical calculator to a reactive animal. When he’s in pup mode, he said, he has “no real inner monologue. Just me at my rawest form. Affectionate and loving and sharing myself.”

―you know, actually healthy, when it isn’t sublimated into a network of sick games. You know, like purity culture, or self-righteous, self-loathing obsession.

Just sayin’.


Image note: Puppy play ― via The Stranger.

Baume, Matt. “What Is Puppy Play and Why Is It So Popular?”. The Stranger. 24 June 2015.

Cassidy, Kyle. “God, Gays & Glasnost”. Willamette Week. 7 February 2007.

Kent, Le’a. “‘Abnormal, Wrong, Unnatural and Perverse’: Taking the Measure (9) of the Closet”. (n.d.)

Porter, David. “Jury Finds Promise of ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy Was a Fraud”. ABC News. 25 June 2015.

Ross, Alex. “Duggar Ladies Have Code Words For ‘Immodest Women,’ So Their Menfolk Can Avoid Sinful Temptation”. Cosmopolitan. 6 March 2014.

Shapiro, Lila. “‘Oranges, Baby Powder, Handcuffs And Duct Tape’: Inside The Trial That May End The Gay ‘Cure'”. The Huffington Post. 12 June 2015.

Savage, Dan. “Ted Haggard Puts His Penis In His Wife Way More Often Than You Put Your Penis In Your Wife”. Slog. 28 January 2009.

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