Mostly Straight, Most of the Time

photo greg clements source goodnightboy tumblr

Photo courtesy of Greg Clements

‘I’m not sure there’s a name for what I am,’ says Dillon, a college hockey player. Welcome to the world of the mostly straights.

Dillon, a college varsity hockey goalie, is an eager volunteer for our interview. In fact, he so loves telling his story that he stays beyond the 90 minutes he believes it will take, and offers to come back for the chance to talk some more. When we reschedule, he’s thrilled, and shakes my hand and thanks me four times in the process of leaving.

Besides being remarkably polite, Dillon is talkative, self-aware, and reflective, with an engaging smile and an at-ease quality. Nothing he says feels rehearsed. It’s as if each topic brings forth another triumph, as if he’s discovering his life as he reflects on the questions.

When eventually asked about his sexuality, Dillon isn’t fazed. Though he wants to “fuck lots of girls” before graduation, he’s not entirely heterosexual. “I’m not sure there’s a name for what I am,” he says. He wants this process, this interview, to help him figure it out.

♦♦♦

By his own admission, Dillon says he resides in the “Sexual Netherlands” (his words), a place that exists between heterosexuality and bisexuality. In previous generations, such individuals might have been described as “straight but not narrow,” “bending a little,” and “heteroflexible.”

Dillon is part of a growing trend of young men who are secure in their heterosexuality and yet remain aware of their potential to experience far more—sexual attractions, sexual interactions, crushes, and, ocassionally romantic relationships with other guys. Dillon lives these contradictions—seemingly hetero guys who now reject that label, sexual description, and identity.

And he is not alone. National surveys in the U.S. and Canada show that 3 to 4 percent of male teenagers, when given the choice to select a term that best describes their sexual feelings, desires, and behaviors, opt not for heterosexual, bisexual, or gay, but for “mostly” or “predominantly” heterosexual.

An even higher percentage of post-high-school young-adult men in the U.S. and in a handful of other countries (including New Zealand and Norway) make the same choice. There are now more young men who feel they are “mostly straight” than who say they are bisexual or gay.

To the uninitiated, “mostly straight” is a paradox. These young men fracture the heterosexual agenda—or do we call it a lifestyle? If a guy is not exclusively into girls, he can’t be totally straight. Aren’t you supposed to pick a side?

If a guy is not straight, not bisexual, and not gay—and yet still falls in love and gets an erection—what the hell is he?

It’s a common misconception that the “mostly straight” phenomenon is nothing more than an adolescent foray into sexual experimentation, possibly due to excessive hormones and sexual confusion.

Sizable numbers of young men maintain their “mostly straight” status—not just as adolescents or college students, but as adults. Of the 160 guys we interviewed for a study in 2008 and 2009, nearly one in eight reported same-sex attractions, fantasies, and crushes. The majority had these feelings since high school; a few others developed them more recently. And in a national sample of young men whose average age was 22, the “mostly straight” proportion increased when they completed the same survey six years later.

These men aren’t bisexuals in disguise. They’re not closeted gay men seeking the privileges afforded to heterosexuals in society. They’re not simply tired of sex with women. With the words “mostly straight,” they’re describing a unique sexual identity, their complete romantic self.

♦♦♦

Among the “mostly straights” we surveyed, a few subtypes stood out.

First is the guy whose progressive political leanings lead him to feel constrained by traditional heterosexuality and masculinity, an outdated and unnecessary burden. “I might have been gay if I’d been raised differently,” one said. “Aren’t we all born bisexual and culture pushes us one way or another?” He challenges homophobic customs and assumptions. One such young man sings in a gay chorus; another marches in pride parades as an ally; a third intends to “come out” as mostly straight in the military to test the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He wants to know, how gay does one have to be to count?

Second is the guy who finds guys physically attractive. One interviewee pleaded, “I mean, come on, tell me some guys aren’t hot!” If he finds himself staring at men in the gym, on the sports field, around the neighborhood, and in Details, Instinct, and Vman, then how can he say to himself that he is totally straight? He notices guys in the buff and who are buff, visually appealing, and pleasurable to be around. He wonders if he only desires the toned body, stylistic appearance, and athletic facility—and not the sexuality.

A third guy may admit that he’s a little sexually attracted to guys. It may not be his top priority, but he’ll acknowledge that men occasionally pop up in his masturbatory fantasies. He doesn’t expect to have sex with a man, but he isn’t ruling it out; he has a willingness to experiment. He’s into sexual pleasure without strings, without meaning. Anything is possible, given the right circumstances with the right person. (Well, almost anything: most interviewees drew the line at actual male-male intercourse.)

A fourth guy is a guy like Dillon: he grants that he’s not totally straight, and that his feelings for guys are more than just sexual—they’re romantic. He can imagine experiencing emotional, intimate relationships with other young men. It just seems natural. He’s into cuddling without the pressure of sex, and he could spend countless hours with “special buddies.” He’s been infatuated with best friends, teammates, and videogame partners.

All four guys have one thing in common: unlike their totally straight brothers, they’re not averse to sexual or romantic feelings, encounters, or relationships with other males.

♦♦♦

It’s unlikely that mostly straight youth are limited to just four types. As additional young men recognize and reveal their sexual breadth, they assist all of us to understand previously unrecognized sexual and romantic possibilities. How many of us have these feelings and are clamoring to “come out” as mostly straight?

Indeed, throughout his life, Dillon has had boy chums, boy crushes, and boy infatuations with teammates and best friends. He makes lingering, intense, frequent references to his core group of high-school buddies and to the male companionship he habitually seeks. He readily hugs and even cuddles with male friends while watching a movie and eating popcorn, especially if they are “on the same wavelength.”

Dillon could see himself meeting a guy and together developing a “partnership.” They wouldn’t act on it sexually, but they’d be physically affectionate. Dillon imagines that their relationship would be difficult for others to understand. They’d think it was a gay relationship because of the time he and his partner spent together, the secrets they shared, and the knowing glances, nods, and code words they exchanged. This is the “homosexual thing” that most interests him.

Far more than we realize, young males wait to be released from their heterosexual straightjackets.

Dillon might just show us the way.

—By Ritch Savin-Williams and Kenneth Cohen

 

— photo courtesy Greg Clements 


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About Ritch C. Savin-Williams and Kenneth M. Cohen

Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Ph.D., is Professor of Developmental Psychology and Director of Sex and Gender Lab at Cornell University. He is currently investigating the spectrum of sexual development among straight-identified and sexually fluid young men.

Kenneth M. Cohen, Ph.D., is a licensed Clinical Psychologist at Cornell University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, and Lecturer in Cornell’s Department of Human Development.

Comments

  1. I’m definetely straight from my childhood, i always attracted to women sexually. But, i realize when having sex with women, you cannot be submissive. They can act dominant, but they using it to just please you, not to please themselves. They always naturally be submissive, means first they want to feel sexy and desired. Thats why so many women reject sex because they are insecure with their bodies, not because they dont find their men sexy. I have sex with men not because i’m attracted to them ( well some guys with handsome face and nice bodies are attractive and sexy, but not even half sexy as average women to me ) , but to feel how it feels to be fucked, by dominant person who really wants you, really lusting for your bodies, really want to fuck your brains out ( and they cant faking when they cum ) . And it feels really amazing, emotionally. Its like different level compared to fucking a women. I dont think women can reach a level of sexual hunger like men can. My fantasy is including gangraped by guys in prison lol. So I’m mostly straight, but sometimes i want to have sex with men, just because i want to be submissive.

    • John: “They can act dominant, but…just to please you, not to please themselves”

      Um…just to clea this up – you can’t say this about all women. Some women prefer to be submissive, justas there are women who prefer to be dominant (see the rise and rise of pegging)!

      • Supra deluca says:

        Women don’t have to peg anyone to be dominant. Not at all. In fact, a women can be playing a passive or submissive role when penetrating someone else as well.
        Most people prefer to act active (someone who is “in control” of the movements and the next step) and passive (someone who just leaves the next step to the other part and just lays there while the other part penetrates them or embraces their penis with their vagina/anus, etc.), reversing roles from time to time in the same sex sessions. Most people are actually not into BDSM or domination/submission role play; they can experiment or add it to their sex lives from time to time, but that is mostly not a consistent part of most people’s sexual lives.

    • JaneMarch33 says:

      Your quote “I don’t think women can reach a level of sexual hunger that men can” . You obviously have never met me. Talk to some of my former male partners and they will set you “straight” so to speak!

    • Um… no. I’ve had some pretty damned aggressive partners. They were certainly more fun than the submissive ones, if only because I could tell they were in to it.

    • Supra deluca says:

      ” They always naturally be submissive, means first they want to feel sexy and desired.”

      Eh. That does not mean being submissive at all. Wanting to feel sexy and desired is just that, a want.
      Submissiveness and dominance are just role play. Like in BDSM, when one is “in control” (dominant) and the oner is “under control” (submissive). They are not really dominant or submissive IN REALITY, though, as that is actually in consent.
      Maybe you meant passivity, as in, you like to stand there in a passive way while having someone active to do things to you. That does not mean dominance or submission as well, at least not literally. We can play with words and our minds, though. :)

      Wanting to feel sexy and desired is just a desire/want, not submission. Wanting and desiring is not dominance. Penetrating is not domination, being penetrated is not submission. Embracing a penis with your vagina or anus is not dominance or submission, having your penis embraced by a vagina or anus is not submission or dominance. But you can totally play an active or passive or flexible role while doing all that. And obviously you can play with dominance/submissions concepts while at it.

  2. How about we just stop trying to slap labels on it — I think we used labels just to make other people feel comfortable.

    If we lived in a world where sexual expression didn’t have to be so rigidly defined (and we weren’t still thinking that sex is less natural and more damaging than violence — censorship boards everywhere) many people would do things they hadn’t considered before. Sex, sexuality, gender, they all exist on a spectrum — even though many have adjusted to add gay and bi, it still doesn’t cut it and no label ever will.

    If we look at the animal kingdom there are males having sex with females, males having sex with males, females having sex with females, males having sex with inanimate things ;) and fish which change sex entirely several times in their lives depending on what is convenient to them.

    We all can learn from the fish.

    • We can also watch our STI and STD rates skyrocket from copying animals. HPV is one of the most common STIs and people are too busy trying to find themselves to figure their own ish out. I’m not humoring this “don’t conform to labels” b.s.

      • There are no hi risk groups, just hi risk activities. If a young man has sex with another male, he is no more likely to acquire a std than he is from any other sexual encounter unless he participates in hi risk activities like bare backing, etc. Promiscuity places an extra burden of responsibility on its practitioners, but any “moral” objection to it is simply cultural conditioning.

        • Taurus Hunting says:

          Well stated , Montague. Careless and indiscriminate promiscuity are not what this discussion about one’s potential “sexual orientation identity” is about.

      • I agree with Montague. Young people don’t have to be naked to explore their romantic and sexual feelings; and heterosexual kids are also at danger from sleeping around during Mardi Gras or Spring Break. Those who have multiple partners should get Gardasil vaccinations to protect themselves from the most dangerous forms of HPV (Human papillomavirus). But please don’t confuse a search for honesty as to one’s orientation, with rutting with random strangers. They aren’t the same thing.

    • Taurus Hunting says:

      I agree with Paula. As I read the article, I kept feeling that there was too much ” ‘thinking’ interfering with their ‘genitals’ “. Sexuality/sensuality and arousal ability/attraction are feelings, not labels, types or subgroups of a larger society. These things can’t be typecast, they are a fluid and ever evolving state of awareness. Sure I identify as a “Gay Man” for convenience sake. I am most often (feeling) attracted to other males who also identify as “Gay Men”. That does not mean exclusively so, nor does it imply anything unusual about those (gay, straight, bi, etc.) who are generally exclusively (or equally) attracted to one or the other. I have had very satisfying emotional/physical relationships with women and occasionally still do have similar attractions to women. I would no more be inclined to describe myself as “mostly Gay” than I would say I was mostly a man. It’s not relevant to what I’m discussing when I speak of my sexual attraction to anyone especially if one brings in the romantic aspects of a relation ship. I believe that we, as humans, are attracted to the person (yes there are “Physical Elements” to that) not the sexual identity.

  3. Actually, -there is a group of men that has had an Internet presence for over a decade & understands this innately. They’re called “g0ys” – spelled w. a zer0. G00GLE ‘em. They’ll redefine your entire paradigm about masculine affection. G0YS: The UNgay men’s movement.

    • So are they non-jewish as well? Reminds me of a jewish woman I knew as a much younger man… she was wonderful. I lived in her basement for awhile, and she referred to me as her ‘goy toy.’

    • Taurus Hunting says:

      I’ve read what they have to say on their website. They do identify themselves as being “normal men who are able to experience/have an attraction to other men”. However, and this a HUGE however, they do more than separate themselves from allowing there to be an association of themselves with the word “Gay”. They are Homophobic in an extremely unpleasant and very ugly biased way. They are also very judgmental about anyone who is an effeminate male, anyone who is trans-gendered and any male who is openly self-identified as Gay. They are quite closed about what “sexual practices” are acceptable and quite vicious in what they say about these practices that they feel are “so socially unacceptable”. It’s quite an eye-opening read if one can tolerate all the ugly hate it contains.

  4. s.m. burton says:

    I have to agree with the guy who said he didn’t think they had a name for what he is. Until my late 30s, I was entirely homosexual and had been throughout life. Without going into too much detail, I transitioned over a few months from gay to bi to straight. That process and its aftermath have not been easy to navigate. Lots of friends, both gay and straight, largely fell out of my life, most all of them by their inability to accept “the new me.”

    Sexually, I can now only interact with women. Emotionally, I connect with guys. I fall in lust with women, but in love with men. That make for a complicated kind of existence. Most no person is going to volunteer for a lifetime of doing without either romantic love or sex. Each person wants the full mixture of all the components of what most people mean by love. My quandary is that I have one-half of the pieces for each puzzle, but not all the pieces for either.

    To this day I don’t know what caused my “change.” Whether it was in part, or in whole, psychological, physical (read hormonal) or by other unknown means, I simply have no clue. In the five years since then, I have remained sexually straight and romantically gay. Don’t think they have a name for it or how to navigate to happiness in that part of my life, but have accepted that things are what they are.

    This article makes me glad to know that others out there don’t fit into neat little labels and have some of the same conflicting desires and emotions as I. Thanks for this wonderful piece.

    • Roberto says:

      Would you give more details? Being romantically with a person involves with sex, or only like a platonic love? What are your relationship status and your sexual history after the sexual orientation shift? Hope your life is all right.

    • Sounds like you’re a homoromantic heterosexual! You’re not, by any means, the only cross-orientation or mixed orientation sexual person on the planet. It’s just, most of them aren’t aware that can be a legitimate thing and so can’t put words to it. But it is, indeed, real.

      And I disagree with Roberto. Romantic love is not innately sexual, any more than sex is innately romantic. It’s simply the most popular, mainstream definition to conceptualize romance as sexual and “sexual romance” as something that falls into one box that’s clearly separated from “friendship that’s not romantic or sexual.” In reality, relationships don’t have to be that way, and for some people, they aren’t.

  5. I wrote a (free!) book on masculinity and same-sex attraction. The main gist is that most men would in fact be attracted to other men, if not for our homophobic culture that prevents such *natural* bonding. For example, in the Roman empire 18 out of 20 of the emperors had boyfriends, that’s 90%!

    It’s available as a free audiobook as well, check it out: http://www.grero.com/

    Let me know what you think, I’ll check back here.

    • Draconian says:

      “For example, in the Roman empire 18 out of 20 of the emperors had boyfriends, that’s 90%!”

      Boyfriends that they had sex with? Or just BFFs?

      • Michael Rowe says:

        Let’s try to remember that the Romans had their own issues around homosexuality, mostly who did the fucking, and how old the fuckee was (as well as his social status.) And they were rarely “BFFs.”

    • Michael Rowe is quite correct. In ancient Rome, what mattered was social status and who was “on top” sexually. A free man or noble man could top anybody lower on the totem pole — women, slave men, boys, girls. But if he was topped by another male, that was considered shameful. And Tiberius used to have his boy toys killed after he used them. Romans were not exactly sexually or emotionally healthy.

  6. i think im mostly a-sexual, most of the time

  7. Mostly hetro men being attracted or even sexual with other men is nothing new. This has been true throughout time. The only thing new is that men are finally comfortable talking openly about their sexuality.

    • Exactly. These guys are Kinsey 1s and 2s. Big whoop. The article presents this as a revolutionary “phenomenon” but this has been going on since the beginning of time and has been scientifically verified for at least 60 years, when Kinsey started publishing his research: Bisexuals are viewed as a 1) homogenous group who 2) have equal attraction to men and women. Neither is statistically accurate. Bisexuality exits on a continuum and most bisexuals prefer their own sex.

      Kinsey 0 – Exclusively hetero
      Kinsey 1 – Mostly hetero, but incidentally homo depending on situation
      Kinsey 2 – Mostly hetero, but actively seeks and partakes in homo
      Kinsey 3 – Equally hetero and homo (the rarest form of bisexuality, statistically)
      Kinsey 4 – Mostly homo, but actively seeks and partakes in hetero
      Kinsey 5 – Mostly homo, but incidentally hetero depending on situation
      Kinsey 6 – Exclusive homo

      And ranked from most common form of sexuality to least common form: 0, 6, 1, 2, 5, 4, 3

      I’m a Kinsey 4, for the record.

      • For many, attraction is not that simple. I am attracted to women, and am occasionally attracted to men romantically and aesthetically, but never sexually. Guy parts gross me out; it’s not for me. And then there are people who never experience sexual attraction, and those who do, but only after they’ve formed a strong relationship with the person. I used to get very stressed trying to figure out what the heck I was, and I yearned to be bisexual, just so that I could come out and let it be done, but now I realize I don’t fit into the LGB and straight boxes constructed by society. While I’ve made the choice to say I don’t identify with any sexual orientation, the aforedescribed ‘mostly straight’ describes me well

  8. This topic bugs me. I had a conversation with a woman a week or so ago who told me she’s no longer attracted to men and only dates “straight” women. I asked her how is she DATING a straight woman. She said after 40 then “things happen.” She also told me she doesn’t confine herself to labels and that’s society’s standards. I told her if I was talking to a man right now I’d be furious because too many women think they’re in exclusive relationships with heterosexual men to only end up part of STD statistics through no fault of their own. Of course there is also the issue of drug transfusions and being born with an illness, but I find it so absolutely offensive and irresponsible for someone to not tell you their sexuality. Let folks know what they’re dealing with BEFORE you date them, not while you’re too confused to figure it out on your own. Eventually the lady I was talking to changed the subject, but that sat with me because no matter how many times I kept saying, “Don’t trip. This is a woman. Not your problem.” I Just kept thinking, “She’s also a mentor. And if she’s also telling guys to not ‘label’ themselves by ‘society’s standards,’ then too many people’s health will be at risk.”

    I do not care if you’re homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual, just cut out the evasive answers. I would be pissed if I dated a guy who refused to narrow down his label. I have literally asked guys I’ve dated from 20 to now, “Have you ever had anal or oral sex with a man?” There is no room for misinterpretation that way.

    • Your comment bugs me. In this day and age I don’t think someone is less careful with protection just because they are gay, or more careful just because they are not. I think rather than the questions being, “Have you ever had anal or oral sex with a man?” it should be “Have you been tested recently?”.

  9. This is why I prefer not to lable people by their sexual identity, people are sexual beings who can end up living it out in various ways. I believe however that the heterosexual way is the one in line with natural order and the one to be pursued in the proper manner. I believe in meaning and purpose and that to oppose the designed order is to follow the road to destruction. Opposition can be the result of a personal pursuit or manipulation from outside oneself or both.

  10. Yeah, I did this in college, too – screwed a bunch of girls and guys. But I was in the minority; most guys I knew would only sleep with guys OR girls, and usually they had a specific “type,” too. I never understood them; to me, these were representations of repression, hang-ups.

    At 35, I realized I should make a choice. It’s part of being an adult. I chose guys. I like thinking about women still, but today’s society screws women up royally. They no longer know whether they want to be masculine, feminine, homemakers, career gals, whatever. And it really messes them up. Guys are a lot easier to be with, particularly for someone who is selfish, knows he’s selfish, and enjoys being selfish (like me.)

    But these guys in this article? Just call ‘em “bi,” why don’t you? That’s what they’re doing now. They’ll all settle down eventually, some happily “gay,” and the ones who choose women will probably patronize truck stops, public restrooms, and future iterations of Grindr.

    Don’t say “there’s no word for them,” though, because there is, no matter what fairy tale nonsense they want to believe about themselves.

    • Lol… yeah, we all know these guys. they’re the ones who will come out at 40 and start looking for a bf. they’ll divorce their wife (if they’re honest, and fuck around on the side if they’re not) and then we’ll label them “Bi Married Daddy” and have lots of fun with them. It’s been this way for a very long time and it will continue to be this way.

    • Supra deluca says:

      That is actually called female freedom. You know, they can be masculine or feminine (or both), carrer oriented or homemakers (or both). Men also have all of these options. That is true it can be more difficult for women to find their place, as their freedom wasn’t achieved that long ago. But even men who don’t fit into the manly stereotype are many times lost as well. But I guess you date mostly gay guys, so that is something else.

      Most bi married men stay monogamous to their wives. Many “gay” bi guys will cheat a lot with women, or their partners will just accept a kinda open relationship. Some women also do not mind their men with other men, and actually find it a turn on.

  11. You know, I’ve been struggling with this problem most of my life and it just feels good knowing there are other “Mostly-straight” guys out there, since I was a kid I’ve always found the idea of having an actual
    “Boyfriend” kind of weird but I have these fantasies of my guy friend and I just cuddling and watching a movie or even cuddle whilst we play video games. I guess I could go as far as saying it’s romantic too but I don’t think I’m ruling out the possibility of a possible sexual relationship with a guy, I mean I’m a virgin, but it just feels awesome knowing that I’m not alone.

  12. It’s a shame that folks are so scared of the term bisexual. I’ve never met two bisexuals who felt exactly the same degrees/types of attractions to different genders – each one has their own unique needs/interests. Bis have recognized for decades the breadth and complexity described in this article.

    So I’m glad to see the issue getting some attention. Come on board the Bi bus, folks; we’ve got cookies!

  13. As a gay male it becomes unbelievably tiresome to listen to all of these different absurd theories and logics that “Heterosexual” men come up with to have sexual relations with other men and still hold up a proud banner of self-labelling themselves as “Heterosexual.” The vast majority of men who identify themselves as being gay, at one point identified themselves as being heterosexual and then bisexual.

    • I find this incredibly dismissive of the varying degrees of sexuality. As a previously completely out, completely gay man who is now with a woman (and still by and large considers himself gay), I’m here to say that allowing wiggle room from your predominant attractions are real on both ends of that spectrum. It’s unfair to make sweeping assumptions that this mindset is some kind of desperate attempt to cling to a “heterosexual” label.

      • Gay men can be very narrow sometimes. The same freedom of sexual expression that you fought for and still continue to fight for for yourself and for other gay men is the same freedom of sexual expression that others also want for themselves. White gay men constantly yap about how unbelievable it is that a previously oppressed minority group (read:black folks) can turn around and become the oppressors yet you yourselves are doing the same. I find biphobic gay men who dismiss bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and other non-normative labels to be especially distasteful!!! Not every man who wants to have sex with or experience romantic feelings with members of the same sex is gay. Get over yourselves gay men!!! Society is NOT as homophobic as it used to be and it is going to continue being even less homophobic as time progresses. Thus, it is high time that gay men get off their high horses and their 1950s mentality and quit flattering themselves that every man who refuses the strictly heterosexual label is somehow secretly gay and just ashamed to come out. “Gay” is NOT the only non- heterosexual identity out there. This refusal to allow men the same freedom and latitude to explore their sexuality without quickly attaching a label to it is part of the reason that male homosexuality is more stigmatized in society, so you as a gay men are not doing yourselves any favor by continuing to insult that all men stay in rigid opposing boxes- gay OR straight.

    • I’m with Jason here. There’s many different ways in which a person’s sexuality can manifest itself. I don’t generally go looking for men to date, but I rarely get as emotionally attached or turned on by the women I meet.

      But, on a day to day basis I don’t ever have these points where I feel like I’m bisexual. I’m in my mid 30s now and it’s not a matter of me lying to myself, that’s just who I am. Some days I’m more straight than other days.

      So, no, it’s not just people looking to rationalize away their desires for a bit of same sex sex, it’s a fundamental question that many people ask. How straight is straight how gay is gay and where do I specifically fit if I’m not clearly in one category or another. And does it really even matter.

  14. Great article. As a mostly heterosexual male I have had fantasies of being with another man though I am considering acting on it. Interestingly I have 2 other friends that have admitted also to same sex attraction. One of my friends is happily married and has even mentioned to his wife. She was very open minded he told me and they are working through it. Another friend has just had some bad experiences with women and has confided he has been going to some gay bars/clubs to try it out.

    The main thing is we as a society should accept all types of sexual expression. Whether a man is gay or a woman is a lesbian or people are transgendered, they should not be discriminated against or be social outcasts. As our various sexual mores are becoming more liberal in the younger generation it will be much easier for men to be more open about their bisexual tendencies. Thank you for a very informative article.

  15. Where are the women in this study?

    • Women are already allowed more freedom by this society to explore their sexuality. It doesn’t hurt to focus on the guys!!!

  16. Ritch Savin-Willliams says:

    As the lead author of the “Mostly Straight” article I’d like to make several points in regard to readers’ comments.
    First, I totally agree that sexual orientation is on a continuum and to designate particular points along the way is arbitrary, but helpful for some. For others, labels are intolerable or 3 is sufficient. My goal is to move us beyond the straight, bisexual, gay categories and to recognize that there are many variations along the spectrum (I am also fascinated by “mostly gay” men; more on that in my future).
    Second, there are men (mostly young men) who find great relief with having a mostly straight label or definition to describe their sexuality.
    Third, technically mostly straightness is bisexuality in that such individuals have sexual attractions to both sexes.
    Fourth, with Zhana Vrangalova we have published a complete review of the scientific literature on mostly heterosexuality and I am willing to send you a pdf of the article if you email me directly. Be prepared as this is a scholarly review for sex scientists and developmental psychologists and thus is not layman friendly.
    Fifth, I have published (also available as a pdf if you email me) research based on genital arousal and eye dilation/gaze that demonstrates that mostly heterosexuality is not only self-reported by some men but is also detectable through physiological measures beyond conscious control (eye dilation).
    Sixth, the above research concludes that mostly straights are heterosexuals with a small degree of same-sex sexuality (seldom expressed through behavior but more by attraction, fantasy, and infatuation). That is, they do not give up their heterosexuality (they are just as attracted to women as are straight men) but ADD to their sexuality a clear, significant but small degree of same-sex sexuality.

    I hope this clarifies and if I can be of help in these regards, please let me know. Ritch Savin-Williams

  17. what survey did the writer get this from? does anyone know? just curious.

    • Ritch Savin-Williams says:

      This is not one survey but a summary of over 60 studies that have been conducted that have included “mostly straight” as one of the options for sexual identification or to describing one’s sexual orientation. Again, I can send it to you if you email me (it is in academic jargon). Ritch

  18. I don’t really like this. ”Mostly straight”. Say it with me “Not straight”. But I’ve always held that people are what they say they are. And I would date gay, bisexual, or not-straight but mostly-straight really make it sounds like I’m second choice. I want someone who is into me.

  19. Ritch, you spoke about “mostly hetero” as being technically bisexual. What about the straight guy who is exclusively attracted to women, but can still enjoy sex with a man because it just feels good? He’s not looking at the man as someone he’s sexually attracted to, but he just enjoys being fucked, as John put it in the first comment, because it feels good.

    • It is still bisexual maybe not biromantic . But seriously if you can sleep with someone you can form a relationship as well.

      • Supra deluca says:

        Not exactly, at least not all the time.
        Many people will engage in sexual activities with a gender they do not feel attracted to (emotionally, romantically and/or sexually) because they like how it feels, how some things feel or are just into experimentation. if you are not like that, and would never have sex with someone (or a gender) you can’t be emotionally/romantically and sexually (their smell, their genitals, etc.) that can be difficult to comprehend at first. in fact, many people would actually feel grossed out when thinking about having sex with a gender they do not feel attracted to at all. But many people are not attracted to certain sex but are still just neutral about it. Neutral about their smell and sexual organs. They can have sex with no emotional or romantic attraction as well. And so they can engage in it and actually enjoy it very much.
        Many people won’t be able to form a relationship because it lacks the emotinal/romantic aspect – and that is something they believe is crucial in a relationship as well.

  20. I think human sexuality is a lot more fluid than most people posting here realize. I’ve always been attracted to women (and had them as partners), and never really acted on an attraction to some men until I had a four year relationship with another guy. It was the most transformational and growthful experience of my life that I would not have traded for anything. Humans crave intimacy. True intimacy scares the begeezums out of most guys, and sex often results in a sense of conquest rather than ‘into me see’. Living out of the comfort zone is often the only way to really learn and grow in life-

  21. This piece highlights the problem we have in our society with labels, and the bisexual label in particular. People — men particularly — seem to fear it.

    I am a woman attracted to men and women in different ways. I identify as ‘bisexual’ even though I recognise it is an umbrella term that can mean different things to different people, simply because how else do I readily convey to others that I am attracted (be it in different ways) to both men and women?

    I am grateful that in Australia, at least, sexologists and medical professionals recognise the problems with these labels and will ask not whether someone is gay/straight/bi but whether they have had sex with a same sex partner. MSM (men who have sex with men) is a common shorthand used because so many straight-identified guys do engage in sex with men, but would tick ‘straight’ over bisexual or gay, which can have serious consequences.

    While I understand the reluctance to identify with the label, it also makes me a little sad. Bisexual isn’t a dirty word. As long as people see it that way, the true fluidity of male and female sexuality will remain invisible.

  22. they’re pansexual. I am too. I’ve always been attracted to both men and women but have never had a serious relationship and not many encounters with women. I’m poly too so if I ever did meet someone I really liked I am free to get to know them but I hardly ever meet any women that understand so that might not be very likely. bisexuals and pansexuals are pretty much on their own even in the LBGT community. some gay people say were just confused or trying to fit in everywhere and say we need to pick a side. bi and poly people get called sluts a lot even by gay people because some people say we just want to sleep with everybody SMH It does increase your likelihood of finding a partner if you are open to attraction to individuals rather than sticking with a narrower pool of prospects but it doesn’t mean that’s our motivation or that we will be any more promiscuous. if anything I feel like I have more options so I can take my time more and focus on a genuine connection. my own pansexual identity is also based in my spiritual beliefs. I believe our souls don’t have a gender and also in reincarnation so I don’t limit myself to what is socially acceptable but focus on individual connections.

  23. madison_dave says:

    I’m gay, my best male friend (for the last ten years anyway) is straight. We’re both in our 30s. He didn’t know I was gay when we first got to be friends, but over time he figured it out. It was never an issue between us. For 9 of the last ten years, he was always 100 percent straight around me. We hung out like guy friends do, and everything was cool; there was NEVER any sexual contact between us, even when we were alone and would have had plenty of opportunity.

    Last year, though, out of the blue, he propositioned me for oral sex. I couldn’t believe it. I had always thought he was attractive, and I think he knew that, but it was never mentioned. Anyway, in the last year we’ve had 29 sexual “encounters”. I keep track. I don’t know how or why that started happening, but it’s fine with me…. and him. He keeps it a big secret to his family and roommates. At first, it was just about me doing stuff TO him. No kissing, very little conversation, and we never talked about the sexual stuff we were doing unless we were actually doing it. But he’s really loosened up, and now we cuddle and there is even some mutual touching going on. In the last two months, I’ve spent the night with him twice, which was unheard of at first.

    My take on all this is that he really *is* straight. But he doesn’t have a girlfriend at the moment, and he likes the positive male attention that he gets from me (I can openly tell him “you’re hot, you know that?”, and he laughs but is obviously pleased). Most of all, I think he enjoys the sex part. It really is friends with benefits, with no other pressure. We’re still as good friends as we always were, we just have this “secret activity” on the side, which suits both of us. If he wanted to end it, that’d be okay too, we’d still keep on being friends. He knows that I’ll keep his big “secret”. By the way, I SERIOUSLY doubt that I’m the first.dude he’s ever played with before. I think there is a bit of a past there. But I don’t ask, and he doesn’t tell, and it doesn’t really matter. It just surprises me how things work out. Until he propositioned me that first time, I never would have guessed he was “open minded” like he apparently is.

  24. Every single comment was interesting. I enjoyed everyone’s input and rationale. Even as an extremely attentive and well read gay man, i am truly exhausted at all the “back and forth” banter. Just do what feels good physically and emotionally and to hell with all the labels. I always hated them. I did like the article though and i can relate in a way that would describe my straight friend. Him and i have had sex and he and i both enjoyed it but it was a one time thing, at least for him. We still are very close and in fact, i think that it made us closer. It was a little uncomfortable the next morning and maybe for a few months afterward but things are back to normal and we have actually slept together since but with out any sex and i was happy as well and so was he. :)

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