Tag Archives: gay couples

Does Gay Sex = Anal Sex?

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There are many stereotypes concerning the sex lives of gay men, but just how accurate are they? One of the most prevalent stereotypes is that anal sex is the primary (if not only) sexual activity that gay men practice. Do the terms top, bottom and versatile –as ubiquitous as they are in gay culture – accurately portray the sexual preferences of all gay men? And with the advent of apps like Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff and Manhunt in recent years, the amount of anonymous bareback sex must be at an all-time high, right?

According to the most recent research, the answer is a resounding No.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported on the sexual behaviors of a national U.S. sample of 24,787 gay and bisexual men recruited online. In the survey, participants were asked to describe the details of their most recent sexual event with a male partner.

Here are the results: 

The single most commonly reported behavior was kissing on the mouth (74.5%), followed closely by oral sex (72.7%) and mutual masturbation (68.4%). Contrary to popular belief, only about one-third of men in the sample reported engaging in anal sex (37.2%). Of those individuals who engaged in anal sex, about half reported that they used a condom.

And while we’re on the subject of anal sex, what percentage of straight men do you think have engaged in anal sex at least once? 5 percent? 10 percent? 25 percent? According to the CDC’s (U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention) National Health Statistic Report, 44 percent of straight men and 36 percent of straight women have engaged in anal sex at least once in their lifetime. I never knew anal sex was so common among the straight crowd. Is this the new fad for birth control or something?

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In terms of where the sexual behavior occurs, only a very small minority of participants reported that their sexual activity took place in what would be considered a public setting (3.1%) and the vast majority had sex in their own home or in their partner’s home (77.7%). In addition, 37% reported that sex occurred with a boyfriend or dating partner, and 17% indicated a friend. Thus, for most of the men in this study, their most recent partner was well known to them and was not anonymous. But if you look at it another way, that also means 46% (close to half of all men in the study) engaged in sexual activity with someone they didn’t know personally in their last sexual encounter. That seems like a lot, but it would be interesting to see how this compares to their heterosexual counterpart. (Although I haven’t found any studies, I’m sure hook-ups occur quite frequently between straight people too).

In summary:

The results of this research counteract many of the common stereotypes about the sex lives of gay men. While it is certainly true that some gay men have anonymous anal sex in public places without a condom, this is certainly not what all or even most gay men do. Gay sex does not always equate with anal sex, and only 37 percent of respondents reported having participated in anal sex during their last encounter.

Finally, one caveat in this study, I should mention, is that the survey was conducted by Indiana University with the collaboration of Manhunt Cares, the research arm of the social networking site Manhunt (which caters to men seeking other men, most often for sex). Most, if not all of the participants in the study were recruited through users of Manhunt so they not a representative sample of the larger gay and bisexual population. 

Sources:

Rosenberger, J. G., et. al. Sexual behaviors and situational characteristics of most recent male-partnered sexual event among gay and bisexually identified men in the United States. Journal of Sexual Medicine. (2011)

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf

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Are You More Interested In Someone Who Is Already Taken?

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Highly likely. 

A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: women are much keener on pursuing a man who’s already taken than a singleton.

Researchers from Oklahoma State University conducted this mate-poaching study by asking 184 heterosexual students at the university to participate in a study on sexual attraction and told the volunteers that a computer program would match them with an ideal partner. Half the participants were single and half were attached, with equal number of men and women in each group.

Unknown to the participants, everyone was offered a fictitious partner who had been tailored to match their interests exactly. The photograph of “Mr. Right” was the same for all women participants, as was that of the ideal women presented to the men. Half the participants were told their ideal mate was single, and the other half that he or she was already in a romantic relationship. Everything was the same across all participants, except whether their ideal mate was already attached or not.

The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59 per cent were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90 per cent said they were up for the chase. Men were keenest on pursuing new mates, but weren’t bothered whether their target was already attached or not. Attached women showed least interest and were slightly more drawn to single men.

A Stamp of Approval

Burkley and Parker, the researchers of the study, speculate that single women may be more drawn to attached men because they’ve already been “pre-screened” by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity. But what else motivates women to pursue “taken” partners? Apart from the explanation of “pre-screening”, another possibility, they say, is that in US society, women are socialized to be competitive, so they derive self-esteem by mate poaching from rival women.

Implications for Gay Couples

While this was conducted with heterosexual couplings, it’s not hard to extrapolate these findings to male-male or female-female couples as well since the concept of “pre-screening ” is not hetero-exclusive. And going by the conclusion the researchers offer, gay men should be even more likely to pursue these semi-unattainable mates because they are socialized, more so than women, to be competitive.  

Source: “Who’s chasing whom? The impact of gender and relationship status on mate poaching” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2009.

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