Last week I took to my Facebook wall to repost this HuffPost article about 13 straight male German stars kissing for a GQ photo shoot to protest homophobia and intolerance. Some gay men posted and sent me messages stating that they found it erotic to watch two straight men kiss -- sometimes more so than watching two gay men kiss. Some said they found this as erotic as two women kissing might be to a straight guy. This got me wondering: Why are some gay men sexually turned on by straight men? Some even prefer straight men over gay men!
Before I get readers insisting that not all gay men are attracted to straight men, let me say I know that. I know, too, that it's politically incorrect to admit that there are gay men who are attracted to and pursue straight men, thanks to the myth that we gay men will pursue anyone who's male, ignoring social norms and acceptable etiquette. Of course this is ridiculous. In fact, it's so ridiculous that I performed some stand-up comedy on the topic, which you can see here:
Because of the projection from many a threatened straight male -- that every gay man is going to want to hit on him -- gay men have silenced themselves on this topic. But they do whisper about it to each other and act it out in porn and in fantasy rather than admit it head-on. Even so, we can't ignore the many gay men who admit a taste for straight guys, which makes me wonder why they prefer straight men sexually. Based on the gay men I have seen in my office, here are some of the possible reasons:
Internalized homophobia: This is the easiest reason to cite for the cultural phenomenon of gay males seeking "straight-acting" gay men, or even straight men only. Because of internalized homophobia (which typically looms large before and during the early coming-out process), they're more often looking for men who act masculine. All too often, gay men who don't address their internalized shame will find themselves attracted to unavailable men. If a sought-after man does become available emotionally, then it confirms the fact that the seeker is indeed gay and forces him to deal with all the issues of being half of an out gay couple. So for these conflicted gay men, straight men are desirable precisely because they will never become available.
Forbidden fruit: Straight men are also off-limits. Knowing we cannot have them may enhance our desire for them. Hitting on a straight man runs the risk of humiliation, verbal or physical harassment or assault, or even death, but the danger involved can actually add to sexual arousal, which is often fueled by fear, risk and danger.
Straight men represent authority: A typical -- and popular -- porn scenario features a hot, straight military officer, policeman, boss, coach, teacher or other authority figure who forces himself onto a subservient gay man. And both wind up enjoying it! This fantasy lets gay men feel "accepted" by a straight man (at least in fantasy) and offers them a way to feel good -- even validated -- about being dominated. Outside sexual role play, the reality would be horrifying, and it is indeed horrifying when it happens, but in sexual fantasy, danger is cleverly tamed to become pleasure.
Straight men represent father figures: When a client enjoys fantasies about straight men, I suggest that he explore his relationships with important, influential straight men in his life -- starting with his father. His answers may lead him to make friends with straight men and find ways to achieve some personal healing.
Taking a few steps back, why do people have sexual fetishes -- role playing, daddy/boy fantasies, dominance/submission, humiliation, or coaxing straight men to momentarily "turn" gay and have sex with you, to name a few? Sometimes it's simply because their bodies respond erotically to those behaviors, but other times a psychological meaning is trying to express itself. Often it's a little of both.
A need for a sense of belonging and masculinity: Sexual fantasies about straight men can represent a longing to be accepted by straight men in general. Long marginalized by our straight male peers, excluded from the male fraternity, many of us gays long to get back in, and getting a straight guy to be sexual with us would be proof that we've finally been accepted. As a culture, we have been wounded, bruised, beaten down and humiliated by straight men; therefore, these figures are the targets of both our very strong positive and negative transferences. We recognize them in any self-confident straight male, be it our fathers or paternal caregivers, priests, coaches, teachers or any other men whom we perceive to be in a position of power and authority.
We hear over and over that these men would never be accept a sissy boy -- which we know we are. As a result, we often fear straight men. As children, we love and admire male role models, and we crave their acceptance. As adults, when we sexualize those same figures, it offers us an unconscious way to feel safely attached to them. In the sexual fantasy of pleasing a straight guy, we finally get a chance to make contact with him and win the approval that we have always wanted. Some gay men even have fantasies of overpowering straight men -- seducing and/or forcing them to have sex. Once again, these fantasies can be exciting fun, but growing preoccupied with them or acting on them -- even with a willing straight male -- won't help you find Mr. Right, if that's in fact what you are looking for in the long run. It can also hinder you in examining your own issues and attitudes concerning straight males.