In case you missed it: This was one of the Herald's top stories on social media this week.
For the curious, open-minded, but misinformed heterosexuals out in the world, there seems to be one burning question they always want to ask us homosexual men. Do you all just want to have sex with each other all the time?
Usually, though not exclusively, I get this question from well-intentioned straight male friends and acquaintances. Often over a drink because a certain amount of Dutch Courage is required to be so bold with a question like that. When I tell them that gay men don't want to have sex with everything that moves, sometimes I feel a sense of disappointment. As if they thought it would be a wonderful experience to be so oversexed, you could literally just find somebody like you and go at it.
This fallacy comes from the tired old thought that all men think about sex every seven seconds. Speaking from first-hand experience, there is a little truth out there that SOME gay guys are hypersexualised and live in a world where hooking up is seemingly their life's raison d'être. There are also lots of straight guys out there who, based on the way they talk with their friends, are seemingly up for sex whenever they could possibly get it.
Thus is the assumption: if men want sex all the time, and you're a man whose preference is men, surely any man will do and there's a smorgasbord of sexual opportunities out there for you. Yet this isn't the case. Here's why.
If statistics are roughly right and 10 per cent of the population is gay, five per cent of them male and five female, you must understand how much dramatically smaller our dating pool is than that of straight people.
Now take that five per cent, and surmise how many you're actually attracted to and might have a connection with. I would say your opportunities for sex therefore drop below one per cent. That's not even counting whether or not they're attracted to you, if you're both single, and if both parties are actually interested in casual sex.
What's more, you also have all of the usual sex drive inhibitors, as I explained in my column about libido killers two weeks ago.
So the general answer is no, gay men don't just want to have sex with each other all the time. In fact, the expectation that we do is a cause of distress for many. In an essay for GQ, writer Alim Kheraj interviewed a gay man known only as "Liam" about his experience:
"I certainly feel like there are expectations tied to gay identity surrounding sex," Liam said. "I think there's a perception among my peer group from straight people that they presume that I do have lots of sex…There's an overarching rhetoric that 'sex equals good' and that's never really matched up with my experiences. But also that expectation is something that drives that cycle of anxiety. I feel such an expectation to have good sex and if I don't feel like that's happened then it makes me feel very self-conscious and then I project that inwards."
In essence, this stereotype that gay men are all randy sex-monsters can actually be damaging to our mental health. Sexologist Justin Duwe says, "both heterosexual and homosexual men have been led to believe that the more times they have sex, the more masculine they are", so the expectation of the hypersexualised gay men can also play into our worries of not being "manly" enough. Like Liam explains, it's a vicious cycle.
According to a study published in January in Archives of Sexual Behaviour, gay men are better than straight men in bringing their partners to orgasm. Again adding extra pressure: even if we're not wanting to have sex with each other all the time, science tells us we're supposed to be good at it when we do.
Gay men ourselves have some blame in all of this. We do talk about sex so damn often. It doesn't matter if it's over beers or brunch; it's always the topic du jour. At least amongst my friends, anyway.
If we placed less emphasis on frequency of sex, and more on quality (and lack thereof) of the sex, we might have a chance at removing this expectation from ourselves. Then, maybe, we can help bury the stereotype for those straight people out there who are curious about us.