Q: Do you believe in “bucket lists”? I always thought they were kind of morbid (maybe even silly), but as someone who gives pretty frank and sound advice every month, I’d like your opinion. Joe F. via instinctmagazine.com
A: Bucket lists” bring up the concept of death. As Westerners, I think we’ve been taught way too much fear of death. So, dear readers, I want to give you not one but two empowering ways of looking at the fact we’re all headed for the boneyard. #1: Motivation. You can sit in the fear and do nothing until it’s too late and they put you in a “home” where you realize all the stuff you didn’t do, and die in regret—or…since you know that’s coming, you can use that to motivate your ass to get out there and go DO it! Now! #2: Freedom. Since you know the “worst” that can happen—death—is gonna happen no matter what, you may as well say “Screw it!” and embrace the freedom to dance full-on to that Lady Gaga hit when you hear it playing in the housewares section of Macy’s, to by-damn wail that old-school Cher classic on karaoke night or to buy that plane ticket to India so you can stand in front of the Taj Ma-fucking-hal in this lifetime! If bucket lists help people live bigger and bolder lives, I see nothing morbid or silly about them. I advise making peace with your mortality. When I’m on my deathbed and reviewing my life, the only thought I want in my head is the same thought I had the first time I made love to my partner: Holy fuck was that a great ride!
PRISON BITCH Q: An old prison queen once told me, “Honey, you don’t do your [prison] time in years, but in inches.” She wasn’t lying—hallelujah! The threat of violence, rape and death are ever-present, but what worries me is the possibility of becoming another old, bitter queen full of “woulda, shoulda, coulda”-type regrets. Yes, I regret doing what I did that made prison my new “home,” but I’m determined to make the most of it. So should I spend my remaining years of youth and beauty (I’ll soon be 30!) in a hedonistic fashion, or should I “settle down” with someone I love? There are so many men (and inches!) here, but so little time!
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Gilbert “Gigi” K. in Petersburg, VA
A: Darlin’, for the next few years you’ve got nothing but time. You’re also making the very common mistake of turning a complex issue into an either/or choice. While some life decisions are black-and-white (hello, you’re in prison), most—especially where relationships are concerned—are shades of gray (which, BTW, goes nicely with an orange jumpsuit). For instance, you could settle down with a nice smooth criminal and still be the total hedonistic slut just with him. And whomever he loans you out to. Alternatively, you could whore it up until you do your 12 (yes, I looked you up), and then hit the streets for a man on the outside. That way there’s no prison romance that has to end when one of you gets out before the other. In the end (no pun intended) (okay, it was intended), you’ll just have to follow your heart.
BIBLE THUMPED Q: I can’t stand living at home with my Bible-crazy parents anymore. They demand my sister and I go to church while they sit home on Sundays or go shopping or hang with their friends. They say this is just how things are. Mom also says that church will get rid of sinful homosexual thoughts. I don’t know what to do or where to go because I’m afraid of people learning I’m gay and beating me up or, worse, hurting my little sister. How do I get away from my parents and this dumb town if I’m only 16? Bradford C. in Knoxville, TN
A: I sincerely hate to tell you this, but since you’re still 16, it kinda is how things are. For now. In the meantime, Knoxville has a Gay Men’s Discussion Group on Monday nights where you might find support. Since Mom & Dad don’t go with you to church, you might try hitting the Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville which is both open and gay-affirming, and should also have resources that might help you. Check out the Greater Knoxville Chapter of PFLAG, too. (All of this is online.) To anyone out there who feels trapped, I urge you to go online and check out what’s available in your area. In the Internet age, no one should feel like they’re the only one out there in a difficult situation. Just be careful of online predators who might prey on your desperation. When you’re 18, Bradford, a lot of things change legally, so save up for that.