Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gay Men, Women, and "Sexual Fluidity"

Dr. Bill, I have been reading a lot of stories lately about openly gay men who are having sex with women. Even some of my gay friends have confessed they do this from time to time. What is going on? I thought being gay meant you didn't do that sort of thing. I've been out for quite some time but can't recall this kind of behavior being so prevalent or accepted in the gay community. Am I a prude who doesn't understand the new "sexual fluidity"? Sincerely, A.

First, let's start with the whole concept -- and dangerous notion -- of "sexual fluidity." I think if I hear one more person say "sexuality is fluid" I'll puke. On one hand we have activists and others arguing against these ex-gay nuts who believe you can "pray away the gay" or go straight through conversion therapy. Then we have the "sexual fluidity" trendoids who unwittingly are backing up what these ex-gay idiots are saying. Gay people can't change their orientation -- that is what every responsible psychiatrist, activist, therapist, and sex researcher says. It other words, sexuality is not fluid. Gay people are gay, straights are straights, and -- however many genuine bisexuals there are in the world -- they go from male to female partners but their orientation is always bi. One has to remember that sexual orientation doesn't always match with whichever sex a person is sleeping with, hence these gay guys who sleep with women on occasion. "Sexual fluidity" often just means that someone is going in and out of the closet. Their orientation doesn't really change.

As for these gay guys having sex with women, there are several explanations. First, are these guys really gay? Surely some of them at least identify (whatever the reality) as bisexual. Second, when we talk about "having sex"with women we have to define exactly what "having sex" is.

Picture this scenario. Gay guy and gal pal go out to a gay bar. Gay guy sees guys he likes but he has trouble hooking up with any of them because gal pal is making a loud scene because no one is paying her any attention (the guys are looking for other guys, after all) and the gay guys keep their distance. So it's 4 AM and gay guy and gal pal are both alone and horny. Gal pal gives gay guy a blow job while he fantasizes about one of the hot guys he saw at the bar and would much rather be with. I suppose you could call that having sex with a woman ...

Sometimes the gay guy and gal pal manage to thrash around with each other in bed, if you want to call that having sex. Both are dead drunk, and even if gay guy was attracted to the gal pal he probably wouldn't be able to get it up. In other words, the women in these situations are unlikely to ever get pregnant.

I'd be willing to bet that if you asked your friends for details their sexual episodes with women would be along the lines detailed above. And I'm sure that in almost every case there's heavy drinking and/or drug use involved. If somebody wants to call this "sexual fluidity" they can but I wouldn't. These guys are still gay.

Years ago I had an older friend who was in his fifties. He had had sex with women in the Army thirty years before but not since. One night a "fag hag" -- for lack of a better word --came on to him and he went to bed with her. I was astonished, but he laughed it off and said it was just an act of narcissism. Some men are turned on in a fashion by somebody's lust for them. This guy was middle-aged, not that attractive by objective standards, and while he pursued and caught many, many men, he was rarely pursued himself. Therefore he liked being pursued and decided, in a sense, to give the woman what she wanted. He insisted it was a one-time thing, that he had no desire to repeat it, was not bisexual in any way, shape or form, and that he was a dyed-in-the-wool gay guy (to which I will testify). He was gay before he had sex with the woman, he was gay after he had sex with the woman, and he was gay while he had sex with the woman -- and probably fantasized about men to keep it hard. Again, some would call this sexual fluidity. I wouldn't.

Other essentially homosexual men sleep with women on occasion (generally if no man is around) for some harmless sex-for-sex's-sake, or -- if they are not fully accepting of their homosexuality -- to feel more "butch"and manly. We live in a society where a man is considered a stud only if he sleeps with women, and while a well-adjusted gay man knows this is just hetero bias, a gay man who has "issues" may need to fuck (or at least try to fuck) women to reinforce his very insecure sense of masculinity. Sad, really. Even in this day and age we have homosexual men marrying women so they can come off to the world as straight husbands and daddies (while they hook up with men online). They may even identify as heterosexual. Many gay men are perfectlycapable of having sex with women (although for some only homoerotic fantasizing will sustain them), they're just not interested. They are into men.

Then there are men who know they are gay but are still conflicted. One middle-aged man in a bar a few months ago told me "Sexuality is fluid. [Puke!] Four years from now you could be sleeping with women." I don't think so. Tried it years ago, knew I was into guys, got over the angst very quickly, know who and what I am and wouldn't have it any other way. I could sleep with women but I don't want to, don't need to, and have nothing to prove. If men are middle-aged and they still haven't figured out or accepted who they are, I can only feel sorry for them. Plus the fact that I think it's terrible for these sad fucks to use women the way they do.

And not to be mean, but some of these guys sleeping with women are so effeminate (not that there's anything wrong with that) that when they have sex with a woman it's practically an act of lesbianism. I mean, who are they really kidding?

While I personally have some problems with the 60-year-old Kinsey scale of sexuality (where 0 is totally straight and 6 is totally gay), I suppose proponents of the scale could argue that a man who is a 4 or 5 on the scale -- essentially homosexual but a little bit hetero -- could sleep with women and possibly enjoy it but he'd much, much rather be with a man, if he's honest with himself. Gay guys who are 6 on the scale have zero interest in sleeping with women, of course, and don't understand men who do.

In fact, I dare say that most happily adjusted Out and Proud Gay Men are perfectly happy sleeping with men and just having woman as friends.

So this isn't sexual fluidity and you're not a prude. I honestly don't know how prevalent this business really is. Bisexuality [more on which in a future post] is as trendy as "sexual fluidity" and very political these days, and that may be contributing to what you see -- rightly or wrongly -- as a trend. I have to confess that here in New York I can't say there's an "epidemic" of gay guys sleeping with women that I know of. Most gay guys I know (of all ages) are looking for and sleeping with guys, as they should.

And that, at least, is good news, eh?