I’m 20-something, newly out gay man, and it still feels exciting to say that! I feel like I’m at the beginning of an adventure, and I love what I’m discovering about myself. So far, that discovery has been mainly a solo journey. I haven’t had a ton of sex with other men since I’ve been out (a fact I’d like to blame on the pandemic) but I’ve had enough to get a good sense of what I’m into – and what I’m not.
I know for sure I’m submissive, and I definitely love being a bottom. But I also just don’t like receiving anal sex. I feel like I’m going about it the right way, like making sure I’m relaxed and using lots of lube. It’s not that it hurts; it just doesn’t feel good for me. Plus, I find douching to be such a hassle, one that ruins the spontaneity. And then there’s the anxiety whenever I connect with new sex partners, as I’ve been ghosted over this preference before.
Is this something I can fix? How can I have the sex life I want when I’m not interested in a seemingly ‘mandatory’ activity?
The Back Door Is Closed
Dear The Back Door Is Closed,
Living in a patriarchy is lots of fun, isn’t it? It’s been discussed to death how putting penis-in-vagina sex on a pedestal is the main driver of the ‘orgasm gap’ between straight men and straight women. But everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, has been bombarded with the cultural myth that sex isn’t ‘real sex’ unless there’s penetration involved. Gay men are very much impacted by it too, as you’ve come to learn firsthand.
I’m sorry that some guys have approached you like a potential sex toy instead of a person. No one is ever obligated to perform a sex act for any reason, and certainly not because of their sexuality or genital configuration. Anyone who expresses entitlement toward your body in that way is waving a crimson red flag, and trust me that they’re saving you a ton of trouble.
For what it’s worth, you’re far from alone in being a queer man who opts out of anal. A 2011 study of American gay and bisexual men revealed that fewer than 40 percent of those who had recently had sex with men had anal sex during those encounters. Some of those men identify as ‘sides’ – as in neither a top nor a bottom – and have even formed community around it.
While researching your question, I encountered a range of different reasons for queer men’s aversion to being anally penetrated. Some, like you, were daunted by the prep work. Others said the act made them feel too vulnerable, or emasculated. Some cited painful prior experiences, or simply a lack of interest. For all of the focus on anal sex between men in entertainment, it seems that many real-life men who sleep with men are more ambivalent about it.
You don’t mention whether you’re mainly seeking sex or romance, but if it’s the former, you have some cover to be fairly upfront about your boundary. On hookup apps like Grindr, which caters to queer men, it’s so common to describe kinks and desires at length that you might even need a glossary at first. If you’re meeting people online, see if it helps to choose platforms that are conducive to more explicit exchanges, so you can communicate openly about your expectations.
Sex is no fun without a sense of safety, and partners who are genuinely invested in your pleasure will never guilt or pressure you into a particular activity. While it’s not always easy to be up front about your sexual needs and desires with new partners, having those conversations early on is the best way to have them satisfied. Plus, if you’re looking for a deeper connection, you’ve created a perfect little dating pool to dive into.
My dear, there’s nothing you need to fix, because you are not broken! The only thing that’s broken is a culture that makes you feel like any aspect of sex is ‘mandatory’ or might occur beneath the shadow of coercion. Partnered sex is meant to be a collaborative experience, one that helps bring us to new peaks of pleasure and depths of connection. You deserve to experience that exactly, on your terms.