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From where I’m sitting (no, not on a rimming chair, before you ask) gay sex is pretty much taboo-less. You’re into piss play? No problem, so is my friend Phil, I’ll hook you up. You’re a self-proclaimed versatile vocal pig who loves sucking unwashed feet? Whack it on your Grindr profile and watch the requests pour in. These days, sending an unsolicited dick pic is the new, ‘Hi, I’m Steve, can I buy you a drink?’ Welcome to 2015.
So I think Russell T Davies hit upon an interesting point in his drama Cucumber
, by doing the unthinkable and featuring a protagonist (Henry) who doesn’t have anal sex. As Russell has said, ‘I think it’s true of a lot of gay men. But it’s a huge secret – maybe our biggest.’ Perhaps then our last remaining taboo isn’t something which we all do, but something which many of us do not.
It’s ironic, because anal sex is at the root (or should that be bottom) of so much homophobia. Many a red-faced father has spat the eternal refrain, ‘it’s the act itself which I don’t agree with’, and many more young gay men will have resisted coming out purely because they fear leaving their family with a lasting mental image of them getting rogered. I know that was one of the reasons I was hesitant as a teenager, using the somewhat feeble excuse that, ‘they don’t expect to know about my sister’s sex life, so why should I tell them about mine?’
Perhaps a sense of internalized homophobia is what stops some gay men from enjoying anal sex, particularly bottoming. Then again, it seems just as likely that lots of men simply don’t enjoy the sensation of having anything up their wrong’un. Is that really such a radical suggestion? At best, anal sex requires practice and preparation, at worst – or with the wrong person – it can feel like medieval torture. I’m not surprised some people are put off by formative experiences. Looking back, are you?
Every couple of years a women’s magazine will ask me to write sex tips for girls from a gay man’s perspective. When it comes to anal sex, I always say the same thing – it’s not for everyone. True, it appears to increasingly feature on straight men’s to-do lists, but I hate the idea of any woman being coerced into a sex act which she feels uncomfortable with. Why should it be any different for gay men? Sure, we have one less hole to work with, but they do say limitation necessitates creativity. Maybe that’s why so many gay men are obsessed with licking each other’s armpits.
It irks me when people say ‘gay sex’ but mean ‘anal sex’. Firstly because I don’t know any gay man whose sex life begins and ends with a cock up an arse – and secondly because, from what I can tell, half the straight population are happily seated upon the bumming express. For years gay men have been defined by anal sex, which has understandably meant that those who don’t indulge feel somehow voiceless or inferior. That’s bullshit.
For lots of gay men, fucking is at the heart of their sexual repertoire, and I’m not going to argue that it isn’t a great way to pass the time of day. But equally, I don’t think that men who don’t have anal sex are somehow ‘doing gay wrong’. Like Celine Dion’s onstage banter – bumming is an acquired taste that not everyone will learn to love. That shouldn’t be a point of shame. Don't let it be.
BY JOE STONE
This piece originally appeared in Attitude's March 2015 Naked Issue, which you can download at Pocketmags.com/Attitude.