Q&A: Can Straight Men Be Curious About Gay Sex Without Being Gay?

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QUESTION: As a gay man in my early 40's I have had several instances with my straight male friends asking me very pointed questions about gay sex. I even heard one of my friends use the term "gay curious." Is there such a thing as a heterosexual man being curious about gay sex without being gay?

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At least in the US, some gay men have access to different sexual possibilities than lesbians or straight men and women.

Sexual Curiosity Is Common

Sexual orientation is a nuanced and interesting topic. Pioneering sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey wrote that he thought more people would engage in sex, or at least be interested in sex with both women and men, if there weren’t so many societal restrictions and taboos related to it.

Throughout modern history, it seems that many people are at the very least curious about sex with people they normally wouldn’t be interested in.

Some gay men sometimes have sex with women, often citing a curiosity about what it would be like to have sex with a woman or to have their penis inside a vagina. And some lesbians sometimes have sex with men, and for various reasons as well.

Straight-identified men and women are sometimes curious about sex with members of their same sex, too. Although it is more socially acceptable for women to kiss or make out with other women, that doesn’t mean that some men aren’t interested in being sexual with other men.

Curiosity Can Be Freeing

You ask an interesting question about what it means to be curious, however.

Certainly some people use curiosity as a way to explore, and possibly to become comfortable with, a sexual orientation or behavior that they’re interested in. So yes, some straight-identified men might wonder if they are gay and may want to experiment sexually with other men as a way of finding out.

When I hear terms such as “gay curious” or “bi-curious”, the people using them are often talking about wanting to explore sexually with other people – not just being curious in an academic or hypothetical way.

Granted, some people might use the term without knowing this meaning and they may simply just want to know what it is that gay men do.

Curiosity For Curiosity’s Sake

The fact of the matter is that, at least in the US, some gay men have access to different sexual possibilities than lesbians or straight men and women. Some people are simply curious about what goes in the sexual lives of their friends.

The bottom line is that there are probably several different reasons why your straight male friends ask you about gay sex.

Some may be curious about trying it themselves. Others, however, may simply feel comfortable enough you to ask you questions that help them to better understand gay men and a world of experience that they’re not privy to and never will be.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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