Thursday, October 7, 2010

I’m Only Gay for You, Bro

[Originally written for Swish Edition.]

Has science finally caught up with the high fantasy of gay male porn? Here’s the scene, in its most fundamental form: two rippled, straight Adonis-types are showering in a locker room, most likely after football (or even better, rugby) practice. Eyes wander, linger uncertainly, and then fix upon the most manly features of the other’s too-perfect body. The next thing you know these two oh-so-very heterosexual men are engaging in acts of near-brutality. (The believability of the scene is inevitably marred by the sudden appearance of an industrial-size bottle of lube. So much for cinéma vérité.)

The source of the scene’s appeal, its fantasy, is that it would never happen in real life between two straight men. Most people -- peering through a Porky’s-style hole in the wall, no doubt -- would conclude that the two guys going at it in a locker room, no matter how adamantly straight-identifying in their normal lives, are really, really gay. After all, college girls hold a monopoly on sexual fluidity and experimentation. Long prison sentences notwithstanding, the following is the dogma of male sexuality: straight is straight, and gay is gay, and never the twain shall meet. Not so fast, says a recent national sex survey published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Slate’s William Saletan summarizes the study’s findings on homosexuality:
Apparently, a lot of people try gay sex, but only about half stick with it. By ages 18-19, 10 percent of men say they've performed fellatio. That number drops among men in their 20s and 30s. But among men in their 40s and 50s, 13 percent say they've done it, and 14 percent to 15 percent say they've received it from another man. Meanwhile, 11 percent of men aged 20-24 say they've received anal sex. For unknown reasons, that number declines in the next higher age bracket but then steadily rises in succeeding brackets, leveling off at 9 percent among men in their 40s and 50s.

Remember, these are "have you ever" questions. When men aged 20-59 are asked whether they've performed fellatio in the past year, the number is more like 6 percent. And only 4 percent say they've received anal sex in that time. But that's a big jump from 1992, when only 2 percent of men admitted to sex with a man in the preceding year.
Saletan doesn’t go the extra step and present the residuals between those who said they’ve engaged in gay sex at least once and those who’ve done it in the last year: the difference is 4% - 9%. Of course, this also includes gay guys who just haven’t scored in the last twelve months (believe it or not, they’re out there). Still, these numbers show there is a sliver of the heterosexual male population who have walked on the wild side and haven’t caught the gay bug and moved to Chelsea with their twink boyfriends.

Two more things to consider. The findings were, necessarily, self-reported. The effects of taboo and sexual-identity preservation means the number of straight-identifying men who have had gay experiences is likely to be higher. It takes a mighty secure straight man to admit to having once performed fellatio. Even so, the study’s findings do not represent a sea change in how we ought to understand male sexuality. We’re still talking small numbers (not even 10%), and it is only one study.

The Onion once published a hilarious satire of overly macho closet cases entitled “Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My Cock?”. The “author” of the article, Bruce Heffernan, laments his numerous unwitting encounters with gay men:
Look, I'm not a hateful person or anything–I believe we should all live and let live. But lately, I've been having a real problem with these homosexuals. You see, just about wherever I go these days, one of them approaches me and starts sucking my cock.

Take last Sunday, for instance, when I casually struck up a conversation with this guy in the health-club locker room. Nothing fruity, just a couple of fellas talking about their workout routines while enjoying a nice hot shower. The guy looked like a real man's man, too–big biceps, meaty thighs, thick neck. He didn't seem the least bit gay. At least not until he started sucking my cock, that is.

Where does this queer get the nerve to suck my cock? Did I look gay to him? Was I wearing a pink feather boa without realizing it? I don't recall the phrase, "Suck my cock" entering the conversation, and I don't have a sign around my neck that reads, "Please, You Homosexuals, Suck My Cock."

I've got nothing against homosexuals. Let them be free to do their gay thing in peace, I say. But when they start sucking my cock, then I've got a real problem.
So: closet case, or regular old straight guy? Thanks to science, we may never know for sure.