Urban lore says gay men, committed or not, get as much sex as they want from multiple partners. Is it true?
Back when I was a little boy in rural Illinois, the ideas of “swinging” and “wife-swapping” were exotic concepts from society’s fringe. Free-loving hippies, infidels and over-sexed degenerates were the only ones that had sex outside of their marriages. Marriage was meant to be monogamous, and no sane person would give their spouse permission to indulge in frivolous sex with someone else.
By the time I was in high school in the early 1980’s, I knew I was gay, but I had no gay role models. There was no rule book on how to go out into the world and be an openly gay man. I was faced with trying to adapt the straight sexual values I had growing up. I just used the heterosexual rule book and changed the pronouns.
After college I moved to the big, bad city and spent many years trying to build my own queer marriage and family manifesto. I learned to create my own rules. Since the gays weren’t allowed to get married or adopt children, it seemed natural for us to live our lives with no sexual accountability. One might say it was expected of us.
Back in the days, when I used to go to gay bathhouses for sex, my straight friend, Mark, was jealous.
“Man, I wish a bunch of women and men could get together in a building and just have all the sex they wanted like you gay guys can.”
I used to think to myself, “Yeah, and I wish I could get married and raise a family like you straight people can.”
The end of the 1990’s introduced America to two entities that would change everything: home computers and Will and Grace. Of course, gay people and the internet were around before Y2K, but the popularity of these two things changed the dynamic of how gay people had sex. The popular television show gave us pride and mainstream visibility. It showed the straight world that homosexuality wasn’t so scary after all.
The World Wide Web made no-strings sex accessible without going to a seedy club. Finding a sex partner became as pedestrian as ordering a pizza. Hooking up via the Internet could be very hard to resist, even for the most seasoned couples. It seemed everyone was “doing it” more efficiently.
My friend, Walt, made a statement in 2001 that really surprised me. He said that his friend Kyle (whom I didn’t know) got a quick blow job from our friend, Don—a guy I had assumed to be sexually monogamous with his long-term partner, Peter. I always considered Don and Peter a gay super-couple: handsome, educated, financially comfortable and very much in love. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe Don and Peter were not monogamous. Either Don had cheated on Peter, or the two men had an agreement that they could have no-strings sex on the side.
I started wondering more about my other partnered gay friends and their commitments.
Eric and Paul lived together, and I knew they had their own, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on sex outside the relationship. They both had no-strings sex with other men on regular basis. It was all okay, as long as the experience wasn’t important enough to mention. The only rule was no kissing on the mouth.
John and Robert didn’t have any rules about sex. The adorable twenty-something guys did whatever they wanted with other men and shared all the gory, sexy details with each other. I got the impression they liked the idea that their partner was hot enough to be sexually desirable by other attractive men. I could tell they loved each other and were good partners, but they thought it was a waste to be monogamous while they were still young and looked so sexy. They had lots of sex and carried condoms in their backpacks everywhere they went. It didn’t seem to hurt their relationship after five years.
My friend Pat was not quite forty years old and his partner, Matt, was thirteen years younger. They had very different sex drives: Matt was always horny and Pat was a twice-a-week kind of guy. I have a vivid memory of drinking a cocktail in a club with Pat and watching Matt make out and fondle another hot, young guy in his twenties. Pat didn’t seem to mind.
“It’s okay if he has fun every once in a while. It’s just sex and we still love each other. As soon as it’s ‘forbidden’ it’ll be a big problem,” Pat said casually. “He’ll probably get a blow-job in the car outside, and that’ll hold him over until I’m ready to fuck his brains out this weekend.”
My friends Randy and Jason take their sexual freedom to a whole new level. They added a third Latin lover to their household named Rolando. All three men were over thirty-five years old and lived happily together in a triad relationship that I’m scared to ask too many questions about.
Although these examples fit the stereotype that homosexuals are over-sexual, there are still many gay people who have sex lives that would be considered low-key and more traditional. I have several friends who maintain their old-fashioned monogamous relationships with ease. Matt and Scot have been sexually exclusive for over twenty years, adhering to the vows they spoke at their commitment ceremony in 1993. They live in Los Angeles, and are very focused on their careers in the entertainment industry.
JR and Troy have worn gold wedding bands ever since I met them in 1994, but they skipped a formal wedding. They appear to have escaped all internet temptation as far as I can tell. (I would never ask them about their sex life). They have the house with the picket fence and are raising a son they plan to adopt.
I love that my coupled friends have all addressed their needs. The question now is whether or not the blooming of same-sex marriage in America will change how heterosexual married couples set their sexual boundaries. Are the gays going to give the institution of marriage a make-over?
One could argue that it is a slippery moral slope. But is it? Aren’t all the homophobes just assigning gay people the blame for what the swingers and wife-swappers have been doing for years?
Gay or straight, there is a big difference between cheating and swinging, and homosexuals didn’t invent infidelity. Remember: until recently, we were not allowed to be legally married anywhere in the United States. Our president might be in favor of same-sex marriage, but a sizable portion of the country still hasn’t caught up.
Photo by brainware3000