I don’t usually read your interviews, but I was so enthralled by the conversation with Clarissa Smith [“Is This Desire?” by Staci Kleinmaier] in your March 2024 issue that I couldn’t put the magazine down. My own sexual journey is limited, but I’ve always viewed sex as a normal part of life. It is refreshing to see words like pornography and sexuality printed in a positive light—a clear rebellion against today’s blatant censorship of anything considered offensive.

Name Withheld

I’ve often wondered why depictions of sexual pleasure between two consenting adults (even if they are actors) are viewed as heinous and condemned, demonized, or forbidden by many religious conservatives, but depictions of stabbings and shootings are accepted by the same folks as innocent entertainment. What happened to “Thou shalt not kill”?

Greg Wooster Ithaca, New York

At last, an issue addressing sexuality! I have subscribed to The Sun for over fifteen years. It is great to see such an important and vital aspect of our lives talked about. I look forward to more.

Michael E. Kerosky Anchorage, Alaska

I have read The Sun since the late 1980s, and I’m no prude. Your March 2024 issue is the first I would have been embarrassed to share with my mother.

Ray Kenny Ponte Vedra, Florida

I felt a throb of recognition as I read Cameron Dezen Hammon’s essay “Kissing Strangers in the Street” [March 2024]. Even before puberty and certainly long before I found out my desires had a name, let alone a community, I fantasized about BDSM. I was raised in an evangelical end-times cult, and I found myself in an arranged marriage, and then with a child at the age of twenty-two. My sexual fantasies were a tightly locked, “evil” secret.

When I escaped the suffocating grip of the cult, I dove headfirst into the BDSM scene, absolutely starving for the physical sensations my imagination had conjured. I experimented heavily in role-play and discovered what I liked and disliked.

Alone at a dungeon party in New York City one evening, I was seeking out my ultimate play partner—a dominant older paternal figure—when submissive men started following me around, begging to be “topped.” As a tall woman dressed all in black, I was easily taken for a dom. On a lark and having had no luck in procuring a “daddy,” I decided to indulge the men. I borrowed a cat-o’-nine-tails and got to work. The rush I felt as they worshipped me was intense.

I began marketing my services and made a pretty penny for a brief time in the mid-nineties. I was eminently discreet, and my services stopped short of intercourse. I was strictly a purveyor of fantasy. None of it met my emotional needs, though, and it all came to an end when I placed a personal ad that was answered by just the sort of man I’d been longing for. After three years of primal passion, I got pregnant, and we married. Life became extraordinarily complicated, and we eventually separated but continued to play with each other. He said he liked it better when it seemed illicit.

He and I remain friendly, and I’m a grandmother now. I’ve been celibate for the last ten years. Menopause has all but completely stalled my libido, but occasionally a stray fantasy creeps in. In them I am a submissive, searching young woman who wants to be cherished and desired—and spanked. But mostly I want to be loved.

L.G. Carmel, New York

I was amazed to see a photo of a house I recognized accompanying your interview of Wade Graham on the challenges of the modern city [“Tangled Avenues,” by Dash Lewis, photo by Michael Galinsky, February 2024]. I lived near that house for more than forty years and as a child delivered newspapers all through those streets by bicycle. It has always been an economically diverse area. Some people live in walk-up apartments above retail stores and others in large houses with nice backyards on tree-lined streets. The houses date back to the beginning of the last century and are sometimes too expensive to restore or maintain. Neither of my parents had a high-school education, but they could afford a house there on my father’s salary. I have much more education than they did, but I can barely afford a two-bedroom apartment in that neighborhood.

Kevin A. Jones New York, New York

I neither like Metallica nor have obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet I found Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s essay “The Beast in Your Head” [News & Notes; February 22, 2024] compelling. It’s a validation that life and perspectives change. The author’s descriptive prose swept me away and allowed me to see from another perspective.

Diana Connor Olympia, Washington

“The Beast in Your Head” will appear in a future print issue of The Sun, but you can read it now at thesunmagazine.org/news.


Every time I see a photo essay in an issue of The Sun, I am sad, because I know there is going to be less writing, which for me means fewer opportunities to connect with others and share their emotions. Then I looked at Hank Baker’s amazing photos in “La Diáspora” [January 2024]. I live less than five miles from the Mexico border and tend to hear mostly negative news about immigration and migrants. Despite having so many friends from the other side of the border, I often forget that Mexico is a vast and beautiful country and home to people with a myriad of lifestyles. I also forget how much can be seen and felt from a single photograph.

I promise to stop judging and start trusting that The Sun’s editors know what they are doing.

Sherrie Miranda Chula Vista, California

Wiam El-Tamami’s essay “Stranger Kin” [January 2024], about stray dogs protecting the author and her friend from a group of men, made my eyes wet. I wondered if the story could be true, so I asked my daughter, who is a dog trainer. She had no doubt that the dogs intentionally helped the women. She said that she’s seen dogs act in similar ways to protect their owners. Dogs are very aware of humans’ emotions. The dogs in the essay live on the streets and know which people to trust and which to avoid; they likely knew those men.

My daughter has also told me that when she is asked to remediate a situation between a dog and its owner, it is often the owner who needs to be trained.

Terry Mahoney Cuba, New York

I was saddened to hear that Sy Safransky was retiring and that he has dementia [“A Letter from Sy’s Desk,” December 2023]. I hoped my favorite magazine would still be as good under new leadership, for my own enjoyment but also because it makes the perfect Christmas gift. So far I have not seen anything that makes the magazine less than it was. Thank you for keeping The Sun going in the tradition of its founder.

Ann Toby Greene Peekskill, New York

Reading Correspondence in your March 2024 issue, I was shocked by references to Sy Safransky’s announcement that he has dementia and was stepping down as editor of The Sun. How had I missed this? Although it was midnight, I went looking for my December issue.

I found it on my husband’s bedside table, along with his wallet, his keys, and his wool driver’s hat. Roger was always excited to have the first pass at each issue of The Sun. I vaguely remember him telling me that the December issue was really touching, but it never made its way to me.

Roger was diagnosed in 2021 with Alzheimer’s disease. He was seventy-one and vital, loved life, and could still go down Class III rapids standing on a paddleboard. Shortly after the news registered, he began to research his options. He informed his daughter and me that he did not want to face a lengthy future of losing himself to the disease. In the two years of gradual but steady decline that followed, memory-care appointments every three months, and the indignity of forgetting how to do things he’d mastered over a lifetime, he never changed his mind.

Roger died on February 2, 2024, cradled between his daughter and me on a hospital bed in an apartment filled with lit candles and with a view of the beautiful gardens outside. We were in Zurich, Switzerland. The physician who helped us was compassionate and asked that we come back to our country and fight for legislation to legalize assisted dying. He told us that nobody should have to travel five thousand miles to die with dignity.

Alzheimer’s is an emotional tsunami. My heart goes out to Sy; his wife, Norma; and all their loved ones. Sy, what a legacy you leave. Thank you for these fifty years.

Debbie Wren Hill Asheville, North Carolina