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Does Having Anal Sex Make Me Gay?

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Updated February 09, 2009

Question: Does Having Anal Sex Make Me Gay?
Answer:

There are so many ways to say no to this question, I’m not sure where to start.

First off, there is no direct connection between what we do and who we are, or even who we think we are. Lots of baseball fans drink beer. But drinking beer won’t make you like baseball. Lots of conservatives wear red ties, but just because you wear a red tie doesn’t mean you’re a conservative. And yes, lots (but not all) gay men have anal sex. But just because you have or want to have anal sex, doesn’t mean you’re gay.

A second thing to know is that anal sex isn’t what defines a gay man. Sure, some gay men love anal sex. But if you survey a random group of men who identify as gay, they’re probably going to tell you that having sex with men is what they like, not just having anal sex with any gender. If you’re a guy and you want anal sex with a woman (regardless of who is penetrating who) you’re desiring straight sex.

Sexual scientists largely agree that there isn’t a simple relationship between our sexual behaviors (what we do sexually, like anal sex), our sexual orientation (the direction of our sexual interest: heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual) and our sexual identity (how we identify ourselves, there are dozens of different terms and identities people choose). And many agree that our behavior, orientation, and identity are to a greater or lesser degree fluid and can change throughout our life. All this is another way of saying that just because you want to have anal sex now doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than that you want to have it now.

If you’re a numbers person, you may want to consult the statistics on heterosexual anal sex. There are lots of straight people having anal sex, and chances are they aren’t all in the closet.

Finally, to offer some advice that you aren’t asking for, you may want to consider this: Whether or not you’re gay, there’s nothing wrong with being gay. The truth is that maybe you are gay. But that’s something only you can come to, and simply wanting anal sex, or having it, doesn’t get you there. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being straight either, or being asexual or pansexual, or bisexual. As long as you’re not coercing anyone into doing anything, your desires are probably healthy, and they don’t define you anymore than your favorite food does.

You know what else is healthy? Being open to asking questions about your own sexual orientation, desire, and identity. Asking these questions may be scary, but it’s the only way to learn more about yourself. It’s always possible that you’ll find out something you’re not completely comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean the discovery will kill you, or that you’ll always feel that discomfort. If you’d rather not know any more about yourself that’s OK too, but if one of your goals in life is to learn more about yourself and grow as a person, self-knowledge is an important part of the curriculum.

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