protect + service

Afghanistan’s Male Soldiers Are Having Sex With Other Guys. But Don’t Call Them Homos

America’s gay soldiers have a unique struggle on their hands: Whether to hide or be open about their sexuality, and invite the risks and rewards that come along with that decision. But Afghanistan’s “gay” soldiers have a different battle: Despite regularly having sex with other men and shunning women, many of these male soldiers refuse to identify as gay. Which can get in the way of, say, preventing STDs.

You need only watch the CNN clip below, where three gay American troops speak of the need to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to understand the difficulties of being gay in the U.S. armed forces. For these Afghan soldiers, however, having sex regularly with other men is no big deal. Just don’t call them gay.

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns — though they seem to be in complete denial about it.

That’s what a new unclassified study of Pashtun men reveals. These men “admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually — yet they completely reject the label of ‘homosexual.’ The research was conducted as part of a longstanding effort to better understand Afghan culture and improve Western interaction with the local people. The research unit, which was attached to a Marine battalion in southern Afghanistan, acknowledged that the behavior of some Afghan men has left Western forces ‘frequently confused.’ The report details the bizarre interactions a U.S. Army medic and her colleagues had with Afghan men in the southern province of Kandahar. In one instance, a group of local male interpreters had contracted gonorrhea anally but refused to believe they could have contracted it sexually — ‘because they were not homosexuals.’ Apparently, according to the report, Pashtun men interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot ‘love’ another man — but that doesn’t mean they can’t use men for ‘sexual gratification.’ … The U.S. army medic also told members of the research unit that she and her colleagues had to explain to a local man how to get his wife pregnant. The report said: ‘When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked, ‘How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.’”

To many, that’s not logic, but fiction. But to conclude as much would be to ignore Afghan culture and tradition, and the gross lack of education about sex. Two men who have sex with each other, as any Big Love viewer knows, don’t necessarily call themselves “gay.” (See: Downlow phenomenon.) But what they are doing is, of course, a gay act.

But we’re not going to pass judgment: We know how good it feels to get your rocks off with someone of the same sex, and if you need to get through the day without calling yourself a fag, so be it.

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  • B Damion

    Yah…this is the “I’m not gay I just like to sleep with men” mentality that most Bi-sexual men like to take on now. This type of behavior is selfish and cruel. I am just sick of it. Pick a sexuality n stick with it. I hate this crap.

  • rf

    And Afgahanistan will get same sex marriage before America…

  • romeo

    So be it. LOL

    As I’ve mentioned before, historically, some of the best Persian and Ottoman poetry is about gay love. LOL Say hello to the real Islam. But Christianity is just as hypocritical. I believe we have a Ted Haggard thread running? LMAO!

    I’d also say let the boys have their fun, but just wish they had more balls. You know, while silently watching some of their brothers getting publicly hanged.

  • JamesDeansCrotch

    @B Damion:

    For the record, most bi sexual men do NOT have that mentality. Where do you get off with the bi-phobic remarks? That’s just as bad as the religious right trying to tell us who we should sleep with.

    It’s not for you tell bisexual men or women to “pick a sexuality” and stick with it.

    Be nice.

  • Dirty Ole Man

    Some of my best Adult Book Store encounters
    involved U.S Service Men. I can see the pain on their faces
    from having to live such a double life. The secrecy they have to
    live under is just sad.

  • El Brucio

    I’m torn on whether to believe this or not.

    On one hand, it’s kind of understandable given their culture’s ban on mingling with females and prohibitions on sex before marriage. Horny guys without access to women will do what horny guys in our prisons are already doing to each other.

    On the other hand, this is also smells of propaganda designed to pacify westerners who are concerned about the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan. “Haha, look at how backwards they are there, they really need us to look after things for them!”

  • B Damion

    @JamesDeansCrotch..I stated my opp. N thats what these forums are about. Your Personal opp of me is non of my…

  • Josh_Texas

    Religion. It just ruins so many lives.

  • The Artist

    Hmmm…. this doesn’t seem like news. Isn’t the whole point of being in a homosocial setting, is the sex, or at least being with people of the same sex. Picture this: a group of men, sharing together day-in, day-out. Seems hot 2 me. PEACELUVNBWILDYALL!

  • JamesDeansCrotch

    @B Damion

    I understand that. That’s what we’re here for.

    I identify as bisexual.

    So I took your opinion, “personally.”

    We should hang out sometime so I can show you just how awesome a bisexual can be!

  • scott ny'er

    @B Damion: that’s cool. but following ur logic u must be ok with heteros stating their homophobic opinions about gays on boards. and continuing with that train of thought, in any public forum, be it tv, music, poetry, radio, etc.

  • jason

    This Pashtun phenomenon is referred to as “situational homosexuality”. Situational homosexuality occurs when men live and work together in groups devoid of women. The absence of women can be due to the nature of the job or it may be cultural/religious.

    The reason why a lot of the Pashtuns deny the word “homosexual” or “gay” is because they are denying the noun form. The noun form is all-encompassing, as if to say you are “black” or you are “Chinese”. The noun is non-fluid, basically. As such, it doesn’t apply to men who engage in situational sexuality, where the situation may change.

    Within the Pashtuns, what you have is men who are predominantly heterosexual in orienation but homosexual in their relations due to the situation they are in.

  • St.LuciaBoy

    I need to get me some Afghan meat…

  • eagledancer

    This is something I’ve been writing and lecturing about for years, and tried explaining to CDC when I was working with the agency regarding research on sexual behavior. “Gay” as many of the people on this board understand the term, is not used by many other cultures. Other cultures, btw, may have much more sophisticated and layered ways of classifying sexual interactions. When you work with cultures that have more than two genders, then even the concept of “homosexuality” (i.e., “same-sex”) gets to be a slippery slope, because a person might not be engaged in “same-sex” behavior, but is having sex with a member of a third or fourth gender.
    As I have explained repeatedly—if you’re not from that culture—you don’t get to vote. To demand that a culture that’s been functioning for a lot longer than America’s been around change to meet your cultural bias is unrealistic as someone from that culture explaining to you that you really AREN’T gay, and you accepting their conclusion. As researchers we struggle to come up with terms that will both serve to comprehend how local communities conceptualize things, and how we describe them from a western science perspective.
    This, by the way, is different than being in denial. If the culture sanctions the concept of more than two genders, or that a man is “only” a “homosexual” if he is in the “passive” position of anal intercourse, that’s very different than one of Queerty’s American members having sex with a man consistently, and refusing a “gay” (or bisexual) identity. This would be the individual in denial of his action.
    “Gay” for a lot of other cultures has also taken on a very specific Western meaning. When I was on faculty for a Human Sexuality week long seminar at the Kinsey Institute, working with Japanese Sex Educators, my old friend (mayheresstinpeace) David McWhirter (he co-authored The Male Couple with his partner) introduced himself as a “Gay man.” When the translator shared that with the Japanese audience, they became agitated, and confronted her, saying she must have mistranslated, because David obviously wasn’t “gay” because he wasn’t wearing a dress.
    “Gay” means different things to different audiences. This isn’t just true in other cultures—I read over and over again in contemporary forums of how men who self-identify as “gay” did not do so initially because the stereotypical media representations of gays, and the pejorative remarks made about gay behavior by their family and friends didn’t seem to “match” their own self-image of who they were. There are a number of gay identity developmental models that indicate how common this disconnect can be as people begin to feel out their sexual identity.

  • olen

    Once again, the Western construct of “sexual orientation” is running up against its limits in ordering the multicultural multiplicities of reality. “Homosexuality” is a complex set of conditions and circumstances comprising an entirely Western concept. Mere ass-fucking doesn’t equal this concept of homosexuality. Fox News, in publishing the original story with claims of “denial” on the part of the Afghans is using homophobia and mockery as more fuel for their anti-Muslim, pro-America, pro-military agenda. Using the words “disturbing practice” to describe the reality of man-boy sexual interaction is homophobic and xenophobic and not considerate of cultural context. this type of thinking needs to be dismantled now, as it serves too often as justification of violence.

  • scott ny'er

    @olen: Interesting viewpoint and nicely put.

  • Mario

    Obviously not all men in the Pashtun ethnic group reject women otherwise, who is fathering children? Are all Pashtun the result of virgin births?

  • Charles Merrill

    PBS has cancelled a show out of fear for the boys in Afganistan taken into sexual slavery by powerful warlords. CNN did a report last October. Many hundreds of boys, often as young as 11, are being lured off the streets on the promise of a new life, many unaware that their real fate is to be used for entertainment and sex. They’re the “Bacha Bereesh,” literally “beardless boys,” chosen for their height, size and beauty, trained to sing and dance for male audiences, and then traded for sexual favors among former warlords and powerful businessmen. It’s an ancient custom but not talked about.

  • Wade macMorrighan

    @Josh_Texas: Unless you have a sexually liberating religion, such as mine!

  • Wade macMorrighan

    @JamesDeansCrotch: Actually, SOME guys deserve to have some bi-phobic remarks levied their way, especially for being an EVIL Player that tell you he’s Gay, when he’s NOT, then later on PURPOSEFULLY break your heart just because someone hurt him in the past! It took me YEARS to get over that (and he was my FIRST head-spinning kiss), and I *still* want the bastards balls served to me on a silver platter! ‘Course, I have the last laugh: he can no longer use his toned body and 6-pack as an emotional weapon to attract men anymore, as I hear he’s gotten extremely over-weight in the 10 years since I’ve seen him!

    There is NO excuse for Sociopathic behavior such as THAT!

  • sam

    I saw that report on CNN that Charles Merrill: was writing about. It’s so sad.

    As someone that is familiar with Muslim culture, in America anyway, and a little informed about middle eastern culture, the bond between men and between men and boys is profound there. Just take a traditional Muslim marriage —- everything is separated. Men have their party at one location and the bride and her female family members have a party at another location.

    It’s no surprise how many of these boys experiment with each other because they can’t have sex with women their age, until they get married, and getting married is often expensive, so they have to wait awhile. A lot of them aren’t truly attracted to other men, but because they’ve been doing it awhile, it becomes habit, tradition.

    And many are just stuck, and happen to be male sex slaves. It’s a sad life. But like others have sad, “gay” is not a word used in many of these cultures. Even if gay acts are tolerated and encouraged. But they need to be educated to protect themselves from diseases at least, and maybe less judgement.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    Isn’t Thursday unofficial Gay-day in Muslim culture? Wednesday must be haircut day! Certainly would not TAIF (Thank Allah It’s Friday!)

    BTW – Boycott Annoying Saint Lucia because of their ads!

  • Larry

    @jason: (12) Excellent explanation. Wouldn’t prison be another example of situational, homosexual sex? Most of the prisoners who fuck each other are not gay, they’re just going for what’s available.

  • dan j

    Humans are very complex and our expressions of our humanity are clearly shaped and molded to some extent by what our culture tolerates and what it punishes. What comes through across time and place is that there will be some same sex bonding whether it is tolerated or not. If we could just accept that fact and quit trying to legislate a religious interpretation of morality that results in various forms of “don’t ask, don’t tell” there would be much less needless suffering.

  • Dasher

    “It’s no surprise how many of these boys experiment with each other because they can’t have sex with women their age, until they get married, and getting married is often expensive, so they have to wait awhile.”

    Sounds just like the U.S. when I was growing up; teenage girls (with very few exceptions) were not available for sex. Boys who were straight, or mostly straight, looked around, and hit on the boys who caught their eye (me). In their 20’s, these straight boys all ended up married with children. It was a no lose situation. They got off, and no one accused them of anything. Parents usually looked the other way if they suspected or saw anything. Some parents even found it useful. The mother of one boy told me later that she approved of her son’s (sexual) relationship with me, because the alternative, getting some girl pregnant, was out of the question.

    If you grew up in this country in the 1950s or 1960s, did you experience this the way I did? I realize that my particular situation might have been the exception.

  • jason

    What we in the gay community need to understand is that, although our gay rights movement is political, homosexuality itself is biological. A lot of the homosexuality that we see in society cannot be perceived correctly from the political position many of us occupy. We need to step down a notch and view it from the biological angle.

    Yes, political movements are important. Indeed, without becoming political, it is doubtful that we would have achieved the rights we have today. But it is wrong to put a political magnifying glass over what is essentially a biological phenomenon.

    We need to understand that homosexuality exists in degrees and that many men engage in situational homosexual activity.

  • jason


    That’s exactly right. A lot of these men in prisons couldn’t care less about gay rights. They’re simply interested in getting their rocks off. Homosexual interactions are a manifestation of this desire.

  • McShane

    Arabs have always had M2M sex ; they just don’t deal with it as a western life issue-Some of the religious extremists make a thing of it but they have sexual desires like everyone.
    Americans are tied up in their bizarre Christian cunundrum which has condemed homoseual acts since they strated hanging around.

  • Javier

    Even in the United States, most men who have sex with men do not identify as gay. American men recoil at the label just like the rest of the world, while enjoying the bonding.

  • blackjack44

    @B Damion: I disagree with your notion about bisexual men because being bisexual myself, i have no problem acknowledging the fact that I love both men and women, but to say pick a sexuality and stick with it is to completely disregard what being bisexual is and is quite disrespectful. The reason a bisexual person is in fact bisexual is because of equal attraction to both sexes so picking a sex isnt going to stop us from being attracted to the other.

    I hate when the gay community tries to do to bisexuals what the general population doest to gay people in general, and thats make them look like the bad people or the deviants of the group. Yes there are people who say their bi because they think its cool or itll sell albums or whatever the case may be but dont try to make it seem like to paint bi people as some sort or blemish in the gay community.

  • olen

    hear hear, Blackjack44.

  • eagledancer

    In many “hypermasculine” cultures where women do not hold high status, you’ll see a common pattern related to Power. The “important” person is an older male. People with less Power are younger males, women, and slaves (if the culture supports slavery) as well as prostitutes. In this type of culture, the “violation” of Power is if a High Status male engages sexually with someone of the same status. It is not considered a violation, but a display of Power, for a higher status male to have sex with someone of lower status.

    This sets up a cycle, where an older male will take a young male lover (or “halekon” in their language). As the younger male matures, he will replicate this behavior once he is himself of higher status, and he will take a younger lover. Young men will have sex withh male peers, because neither one is of high status until they mature. When the former young lover is older, and acquiring status, he will no longer be sexually involved with his former “patron” because that would be a “violation”–two men of high status should not have a sexual relationship. Males will marry because that is the social expectation–marry and have children. According to some of the reports on Afghanistani culture, it is not unusual for the older male to marry off one of his daughters to his former male lover, now that the lover is old enough to start a family of his own…thus keeping the former halekon “in the family.”

  • soakman

    @Olen & Eagledancer

    These were along my thoughts as well. As most of you probably know, ancient Greece also participated in homosexual acts, but the term for them didn’t even exist yet. There were terms for the partners based on what role they took: Erastes, and Eromenos.

    It’s a cultural perspective. You can’t say they’re in denial about something they have no cultural understanding of. Especially with globalization, people are learning newer and newer terms for things they once considered something else. There’s obviously going to be some dissonance when you have to reconcile the two. And more often than not, the term that you understand better will be the term that you decide to embrace.

  • eagledancer

    @Soakman–yes–in living cultures, you will always see change…static cultures die. For example, it’s interesting for me to see how Chinese culture traditionally dealt with same-sex “stuff” and there’s a poetic term “cut sleeve” (supposedly, one of the rulers had a male lover who fell asleep on the emperor’s sleeve, and rather than wake him, he cut his sleeve off). Queerty has been covering the on and off again “Mr. Gay China Pageant,” which is an excellent example of how western concepts and behaviors of “gayness” have been adapted/superimposed upon their culture. As a result, you see a spectrum of coping behaviors, ranging from maintaining the historical experience, and some members of the culture taking on “outsider” behavior, because the new identity provides something the older one did not.

    As a Native American Two-Spirit, I see in our own communities a shift like this, where traditionally a young person would have been identified as whatever the particular tribal nation had as a type of “Two Spirit” person…but in 2010, a young person is often told, “Oh, you’re gay.” These are not exactly equivalent, but once the “new” term and concept gets introduced, it can be like a computer virus, where the older concepts become corrupted and “over-written.”

  • benlayvey

    @jason: Wasn’t this the same situation in our Hellenistic past? However the term “Homosexual”, had it been invented back then would have merited the same “NO LABELS” attitude we see with these Afghans. Homosexuality thrived in the ancient world because of the absence of labels. To most people, the word “Homosexual” is a damning comment on one’s masculinity. It’s synonymous to femininity. This connotation leaves men who posses not the traits of the word to distance themselves from the horde though they share the same sexual proclivities. It’s the assertion of one’s power over another-the strong over the weak, the penetrator over the penetrated and finally the masculine over the feminine. I think the abhorrence for the word “Straight-acting” stems-perhaps unconsciously-from this. Effete Homosexuals feel such men are often unhelpful bystanders when they are harassed for the same reasons they[the straight acting gay] is being left of the hook for.

  • Charles Merrill

    The tide is changing in the USA. Democracy allows for two gentle men (not butch acting) of the same economic status to be in love. The Victorian Oscar Wilde “Prince and the Pauper” is outdated.

  • jason


    A bisexual orientation means that one is oriented to both sexes. “Bisexual” does not specify the proportion, it simply specifies that there are two sexes – ie genders – to whom sexual attraction exists.

    Yes, there are some bisexuals who are equally attracted to both sexes. However, most bisexuals are predominantly attracted to one sex over the other.

  • Bianca

    “An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns — though they seem to be in complete denial about it.”

    I think sex among men is very widespred in muslim societies and that’s because of the taboo on sex between men and women without marriage, women being so isolated and seen as objects whose value sepends on their being virgins and only having sex with their husband if they have one. Women and men are separated from eachother from childhood.
    Are some of those men really gay? For sure but I doubt there are more gay men there than anywhere else.

    Religion is so fucked up!

  • Chitown Kev

    @eagledancer: @olen:

    Thank [email protected]benlayvey:

    “To most people, the word “Homosexual” is a damning comment on one’s masculinity.”

    The closest thing that the ancient Romans had to such a word was “cinadeus” which, roughly and slangily translated, is a stark raving flaiming queen.

    In ancient Rome (and even nowadays in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia) it’s less about whether you have sex with a man then…to be crude about it, whether you’re a “top” or a “bottom.” And yes, these distinctions still survive in our society and in the gay community nowadays.

  • Dasher

    This is why Ahmadinejad said there are no homosexuals in Iran. There aren’t any, because no man would identify himself as one. It’s an Islamic society, and the punishment for publicly admitting to being one is probably being stoned to death in the main square.

    Everything there has to be conducted on the “Down low”, just like it used to be in this country in the 1940s and 1950s.

    But if you think there is no hatred of homosexuals in the U.S. in 2010, just check out the Adam Lambert thread on Queerty.

  • schlukitz

    You say tomato and I say tomahtoh….

  • Chitown Kev


    Well, yes and no.

    Having studied this in other cultures, it really seems to be more about being a “top” or a “bottom.”

  • schlukitz

    No. 40 · Chitown Kev

    My comment was directed to no one in particular and had noting to do with tops or bottoms, neither of which do I have an issue with.

    What I was referring to in my comment no. 39, was in response to Queerty’s headline.

    Afghanistan’s Male Soldiers Are Having Sex With Other Guys. But Don’t Call Them Homos

    Afghani male soldiers call it one thing, we westerners call it another. ;P

  • Chitown Kev


    Oh, yeah, you’re not entirely wrong, of course, but it is a lot MORE complicated than Queerty is making it…I was just saying that tops and bottoms is a little bit closer than the distinctions that we make in “Western cultures” nowadays. It’s not even so much that men who participate in same-sex activity and are the “tops” are on the “down low”…there’s really nothing to be said about it, it’s assumed to happen (even while men are married to women). There’s really no closet that people are in.

    (I found this out when I studied about this subject as it relates to Indonesia).

    And, yes, it seemed very, very strange to me when I first studied it.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    People reading this as a sign of sexual freedom in other societies are interpreting this through their own political agenda.

    This is about sexual repression. It is not that these men are having sex with other men out in the open. They are sleeping with other men and hiding it. They are not demonstrating the acceptance of liquid sexuality. They are hiding the man on man contact.

    This is not about Queerty or societal norms other than your own societal norms that says all sex is equal regardless of how it is done. Except that’s not how these cultures few sex between men. They are so in denial about it that they can not even admit that they are contracting diseases from having it.

    I have friend, and I also, have dated Muslim guys like this. They are in so much denial about the man on man sex that they will claim after wards that they did not just have sex with you. This is not liberation. It is self hate.

    There is such a thing a situational sex between men, but that’s not the point here. THe point is that there is no way in a repressed culture to know what these men’s true sexuality is because of the repression. It is just a different form of repression than the west, but it is repression of anything beyond heterosexuality.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    Follow up on Islam.

    By the way, Christianity has a huge problem with sexuality, especially the puritanism variety practiced in the US. But, Islam has just as big a problem with it. It would be a mistake to read this as accepting of gay sex whether conditional or otherwise. It is more a way to address the repression that all cultures experience regarding homosexual desire.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    Matriarchial societies like some native American tribes- you also see fluid sexuality, but again, it is not always an example of acceptance as much as a way to control it.

  • Chitown Kev


    The problem here is that…sure, there’s PLENTY of same-sex attraction, there’s PLENTY of same-sex sex, but there is very little homosexual IDENTITY…and (I think I am understanding and sayin this correctly) the question in these countries that you’re saying is “repressed” is the actual “homosexual” identity and not the the homosexual sex activity itself.

    Kinda what Gore Vidal says, actually, that homosexual is a verb and not a noun. It’s something that you do, not the thing that you repeatedly are (or present yourself as).

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @Chitown Kev: Neither the noun or verb are accepted. This is not a debate about grammar. The repression is there whether you are having sex with men or because you are an avowed homosexual. Neither are accepted. This is why they could not admit that they caught a disease from the sex.

    The whole conversation here smell of the typical political camps that I see at this site and amongst gay men of privilege trying to push another culture or other forms of repression into existing pet arguments.

    I could tell that with the first comment being about bisexuality. What it really means is that they are willing to have sex with men, but are not willing to discuss it because society would repress them if they do.

    They don’t accept either the verb or now from what I know of dating Muslim guys who grew up in the Middle East or Pakistan. It was not like I was asking them to say they are gay. We were talking about the sex. I don’t know specifically about Afghanistan. My point is that you should not confuse self hate and its many permutations with greater acceptance.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @Chitown Kev: By the way, one of the comments above is a perfect example of what I mean by trying to push a set of facts into one’s preexisting beliefs. Someone mentioned Iran. The reason why no one there admits to even having gay sex is not because it is about a noun or a verb, but because the state will kill you for even doing the verb.

  • Chitown Kev


    Oh, I didn’t say that there wasn’t STATE repression…and that repression is not merely “gay sex.” It’s the repression of any sexual pleasure for the receptive partner. As to be expected, these are deeply misogynist societies as well.

    And usually, for the receptive partner in that situation, there is also the assumption that the male receptive partner is a prostitute as well.

    And, yeah, even Gore Vidal’s thought about it really doesn’t apply to the situation in the middle east

  • Chitown Kev


    “My point is that you should not confuse self hate and its many permutations with greater acceptance.”

    By the way, not confusing the two at all.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @Chitown Kev: My reference is the plural you, and not you specifically. As in the people posting here, rather than your specific understanding.

  • Charles Merrill

    @NoDoubleStandards: They put you in a hole and bury everything except your neck and head. Then the mob throws stones at you, killing you, shouting “God Is Great”. The other method is to push a stone wall over on you shouting “God is Great”.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @Chitown Kev: As Re gore Vidal and others, that’s my only point. That if one is saying don’t judge them by our standards, then that applies to everyone including those claiming some kind of liberation in the middle east that is simply not there. I am not specifying you here, but , instead the general sense of the comments that are saying “Oh, they accept sex between men more” No one actually said that, but I want to make it incredibly clear they don’t accept it more, but choose to repress and oppress it in different ways than we do. It is like debating whether one wants to die by hanging or by gun fire. In both instances, you are dead so the point while interesting, can miss the bigger picture.

  • Chitown Kev


    That’s true for the Middle East, but not necessarily for Southeast Asia (and Afghanistan could be considered part of both).

  • Chitown Kev

    @Chitown Kev:

    Now, witht he growth of fundamentalist Islam in Southeast Asia (e.g. Indonesia) this may be changing to stricter enforcement of Islamic law, but much of what I said would apply to Southeast Asia (which is very different from the Middle East).

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @Chitown Kev: Yeah that why I was careful at the end to point out that my experiences with Muslim men are of certain countries like Pakistan rather than Afghanistan because I don’t know much about them other than from some straight friends, and as you may imagine they would disavow any knowledge of the subject even if I asked.

  • Bianca

    “There is such a thing a situational sex between men, but that’s not the point here. THe point is that there is no way in a repressed culture to know what these men’s true sexuality is because of the repression. It is just a different form of repression than the west, but it is repression of anything beyond heterosexuality”

    That’s spot on, in my view. I totally agree.

    When sexual repression is that deep and starts from childhood, there’s no way of knowing anymore if they are really gay or simply screwed up beyond repair by social influences and indoctrination.

    These men have no way to even test what way they gravitate, the way men (boys) can in more advanced societies (even decades ago). They aren’t allowed any kind of sexual contact with girls whatsoever I’m not even talking about full intercouse but much less.
    They grow up in strictly male company and if they marry late (late teens, mid 20’s) what are they supposed to do with all those raging hormones for decades?

    I bet almost every man in their societies had at least some kind
    of sexual experience with another male.

  • hephaestion

    Eagledancer, Sam & Jason are right.

    The Afghan soldiers are most straight. But across the African-Middle Eastern-Asian Moslem world straight men have sex with men all the time. I recall my shock the first time an Iranian straight man wanted to have sex with me. It’s no big deal over there. They are forbidden from going NEAR a female there, lest they be severely shunned (or worse), so they turn to other men for sex.

    Saudi Arabia has been described as a gay Nirvana. Sex between men happens constantly. But it’s absolutely verbotten to be indiscrete about it.

    An Iranian told me that virtually all Moslem mullahs there are gay. All of them. And you know the Sufi whirling dervishes are, too.

  • hephaestion

    Queerty should run a series on how societies around the world view homosexuality. It differs greatly from Japan to Java to Nepal to Burkino Faso, etc etc…

  • NoDoubleStandards

    @hephaestion: Again this is not about homosexuality or any verb- it is about repression. And whether or not these men are straight or not is not something that any of you can know one way or the other. Let’s put it this way, given the amount of repression that still exist in the West despite advances on sexuality, do you really think in cultures that completely avoid sexuality that it will be any less fucked up? WHo is gay, who is straight, who is bisexual is an issue that we do not even reach due to the repression of sex. Even that person you slept with may or may not have been gay. So how would you know?

  • Jason

    But, I don’t really like sand in my butt crack. I don’t.

  • eagledancer

    @Charles Merrill: Hey Charles–my earlier posts were specifically addressed to “hypermasculine” cultures, where there is an extreme separation between men and women in public settings. I feel the United States is a culture that has been struggling with its masculine identity for a number of decades. There’s a great book by Mark Simpson–Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity. He suggests how really fragile American (and British ) concepts of masculinity are, and how they are so constantly at the point of failure, they have to be “re-created/re-enforced” at all times.

    Unfortunately, for all the “nice Democracy,”
    that “…allows for two gentle men (not butch acting) of the same economic status to be in love.” The truth is in most of America these romantic couples are not allowed to legally marry any more than Victorian same-sex couples were.

    “The Victorian Oscar Wilde “Prince and the Pauper” is outdated.” Maybe…not so much. Certainly we’ve been witness to an evolutionary process where same-sex couples are being better integrated into the society as a whole.

  • eagledancer

    @hephaestion: I suggested to Queerty staff when the site was first starting to do a regular feature/column on cross-cultural sexuality and Human Sexuality in general, but got no response. I still think it’s a good idea.

  • Dasher

    It might be easier to understand the current situation in Afghanistan if we just looked back to the way things were in the U.S. in the 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s.

    Although the various U.S. religions were no doubt stricter then, teenage girls were just not available for sex. There was no deeper shame for a family than to have a pregnant out-of-wedlock daughter. The enforcers were their fathers and older brothers. Teenage boys who were as straight as straight can be had to look elsewhere for sex. This usually involved other boys, and was not advertised. So if you were attracted to other boys to begin with, you sometimes got to make it with some pretty straight hunks. True, it could be a one-way relationship with no kissing, but that wasn’t always the case either. And some of these relationships lasted for several years — probably longer than some gay-gay relationships today. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…:)

    This is a cultural phenomenon that began to die out in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Today, of course, many teenage girls not only look like sluts, they behave like them too. The straight boys can have their pick.

    Since most of you posters here aren’t old enough to remember any of this, you probably think I’m making it up.

  • Larry

    @Dasher: I agree with Dasher. I’ve read about a very similar phenomenon happening in Saudi Arabia in The Atlantic, but they said it’s more like the sex that male prisoners have than the romantic love like genuinely gay men have.

  • Dasher

    Back in the day, before the “Sexual Revolution” took place in the U.S. in the 1970s, teenagers who were attracted to other boys (today, we’d call them “gay teens”) had the potential for much more sex and much greater variety in sex partners. They weren’t restricted to other gay teens the way they are today. Things were therefore much better then, because straight boys looking for something beyond masturbation would seek you out. You didn’t have to risk getting punched out by making advances to them. They would come to you.

    Some of these sexual relationships with straight teenagers amounted to nothing more than servicing them, and the instant they ejaculated, they would jump up and be on their way. I had one of those, but I also had what was for me the most wonderful romantic relationship I’ve ever had, including my first kiss. Wow, that boy sure could kiss. He was a year older than me, and ruggedly handsome. He was also very big down there, which could be a problem for me sometimes (I often overheard other boys talking about how big his cock was, or that it was uncut — I got to see it when it was erect and even bigger than what they saw). Sometimes, foreplay would last 20 minutes or so. I often think his wife should thank me for breaking him in.

  • McShane

    No. 63 · NoDoubleStandards; Hephaestion is right on about thye general facts as they demonstrate themselves to us. You have to remember that the distinctions hetero, homo, bi have mainly to do with distinctions that people find it most convenient to make in our culture given the religious and other power relations between people. All of those things are culturally relative and only appear a certain way interpreted within our methods of scrutiny.

  • Cam

    No. 69 · Dasher

    And it never occured to you that all of those supposedly open minded straights that would seek you out and who ended up marrying women weren’t open minded straight guys, but are rather now, living sadly closeted lives with poor unfullfilled wives? I don’t avoid sex with women because I’m afraid of getting punched, I avoid it because it’s unappealing to me.

  • Dasher

    @70 — Cam — I can’t disagree with anything you say. I just don’t know how open minded or closeted anyone was in those days or afterwards; I wouldn’t have any way of measuring it. My guess is that people were more narrow-minded and closeted then.

    My point was that things were much different then than they are today. Not that there’s anything wrong with today.

  • luke

    What a great dialogue. Really enjoyed reading through this thread. Most comment sections are worthless. This one really made me think. Thanks, guys

  • Drew

    @Dasher: the straight guys you are referring to have sex with other guys because they LIKE it and they LIKE guys, not just because there were “no girls available” you are REALLY fucking stupid!!! If gay men don’t have sex with women when men are not available, it’s because they dont DESIRE women, therefore on the flip side, straight men have sex with men because they LIKE it regardless if women are available or not. They also continue to have sex with men in secret even after they find women for sex!

  • Drew

    @Larry: yeah RIGHT stupid!!! many straight men have romantic relationships with other men, it is just low key. many gay men have strictly sexual relationships with men with no romance too that is a fact!!!

  • Drew

    @Dasher: i thought you said straight boys are not romantic with boys you idiot? you are contridicting yourself again/ first you say straight boys just want sex and that is why they are straight, then you say that straight boys ARE romantic and kiss and foreplay for 20 minutes! which is it moron?

  • Lana

    @eagledancer: this is the most interesting thing I have read in years. Thank you. Is there any chance to contact eagledancer?

  • Moira

    Thinking that a man is gay JUST BECAUSE he has had sex with another biologically male individual, is stupid and reductive. There are thousands of variables to consider here. Why do you really need to categorize sexual behaviors and say this is straight and this is gay? There are million of nuances in between. It’s not black or white. Some men are unambiguously gay and have only been attracted to men their whole life. Most men are umambiguously straight and have been attracted to women, but, in certain circumstances and for the right individual, they might have sex with a feminine boy and play the male role (insertive). I know gay men who are as gay as they can be, yet they had sex with women (for many reasons, including money or ego boosters). Does it make them bisexual or straight? Hell no! Even gay men who are married with children and have sex with other men outside of their marriages. They are not even bisexual but gay, because they are not attracted to women and married a woman only for a facade.

    As for myself, I am a boy who looks like a beautiful girl. In my life I have had literally hundreds of straight men who wanted to have sex with me. And these were straight, not gay or closeted. How do I know the difference? Because gay like men, don’t like women, and are interested in the penis. Most of the straight men attracted to me, were attracted to me for the exact same reason why a gay would be repulsed at the idea of having sex with me: I look like a girl! These straight men were womanizers and loved women. THey had never been attracted to a non-genetic female before.

    Why on earth you want to put labels on everything? Most straight men would be willing to experiment and give it a try if there were not all these people obsessed with stupid labels. Sexual behaviors cannot and should not be labeled or spelled out.

  • tee

    @scott ny’er:
    i like d in me and submissive i am already being f by a guy who wants to watch me f by some one else

  • Vivian

    Come to think of it this is a very interesting topic…i mean not that it could never be so but who would have ever thought that army man could be gay…i would say that it is very brave of them to be gay and stil be in the army regardless of their homosexuality ,but then again it should also be brought to their understanding that remaing silent of who they realy as well comes with after effects.They should think of as well isuring that the STDs transfering should be kept under control and that what ever they do that be so cautouis that also not cause an increase in the breakin up of families as well..either than that i would love to get more news and updates on this matter coz really come to think of it people have got rights and so this might also leave questioning to human right laws

  • ewe

    I have had sex with plenty of guys who are not gay. I don’t understand why people think sex is the end all be all to identity. It isn’t.

  • ewe

    ALTHOUGH, having said what i just did, YOU AINT STRAIGHT EITHER GIRLFRIEND!!!

  • Luz Vega-Hidalgo

    Men having sex with men is as ancient as civilization. I believe that the activities of war, which has mostly required for men to be away from women and be with men for long periods of time,have throughout history resulted in men engaging in certain types of sexuality. I believe that what happens to men in combat is that they mostly engage in sexuality to relieve themselves. A soilder looks for sexual relief, he is less apt to look for a relationship.

    In this activity the soildier sees the other person, male or female, as a sexual object. Because men have been the gender of the speicies to fight wars, they are the ones who are more socialized to see another human being as a sex object, in order for them to engae in combat and satisfy their biological sexual needs. I believe that this conditioning is so strong that even E when a society is not in a state of war men, at some level,men carry within them this perception of women and men as sex objects, thus the persistnace of prostitution,a business mostly for men only. Women on the other hand who propagate the species, as a matter of the survival of her children and herself, attach loyalty and long term relationship, emotional attachment and, to their sexuality.

    I believe that a man can have sex with another man and not feel he is homosexual. I believe that our culture which is very influenced by judeo-christian values does not allow for men to just have sex for sex sake. A perception of what this activity is, and what to call it, based on judeo/christian taboo/perception is where the problem bgins.

    If a man who engages in sex with other men says he is not gay, then I believe he is not gay. Our society tends to force people into beliving things that they genuinely would not, as a matter of conformity or politics. If a man says he is not gay then he is not gay, and stop persecuting him with the concept of denial!

    An example of our society forcing someone to believe something they believe and feel they are not is the concept of race between north and South America. I for example am of mixed race, a mixture of american indian, African and caucasian. In Latin America we identify someone racially by skin tones, thus we have many names for skin color. In north America one is either black or white. In U.S.A if I have a drop of black blood, I am black even if I look like Princess Diana. For the longest time white and black north Americans have insisted someone like me is black, and that we are in denial, and they will not accept our perception of race classification. I believe this is what is happening with MSM who don’t believe they are gay. The great researcher Kinsey stated that humans are capable of many expressions of sexuality than we actually know.

  • zadran

    its fully rubbish about afghans or pashtoon people have male sex behave its not 100% right , its really propaganda for afghans pashtoons,we r muslims .our religiouse and our culture never accept these kind unhumans way,

  • Hameedullah

    It is just propacada against Afghans.You should not think it as real.

  • khalil

    hey guys its really interesting topic.
    i am an afghan myself. Even though i wasnt living in afghanistan for long time, I eard rumors about pushtun tribe having soft heart for boys.
    in other part of afghanistan there are terms like bacha bazi( dansing boys)
    i guess some of you right about if there are no women around like in army or prison guys have sex with guys.
    interestengly the guys who active or i dont know how u call it they dont call themself gay and it seems normal or not so bad. and the guys who pasive they can be harrased raped and so on.

    usualy all people try to protect their children from sexual activities. rich or more educated families have more chances to protect their boys and doughters from sex.
    I dont have nothing against gay comunity.
    sexuality its something given by nature and nurture and if you born as stright and grow up with gays or used by them then you will be gay.
    i think if a guy have his fist sex with girl and they like each other, he will never have sex with guy.
    luckely for me i grow up in russia with plenty girls around ;)
    for gay friends when they are young its fine and its fun to be gay but imagine when you 50 or 70. what you gonna do then? no children no granchildren what you gonna do then?

  • khalil

    in most asian cultures if there are gays they try to hide it because they live among comunity and what comunity thinks about you thats what you are. if you are guy in there openly no one invites you or have friendship with you.
    thats why its ends after marriage.

  • pankaj


  • Seth

    @B Damion: Actually their mentality and behavior is the same as it was with men thousands of years ago. It was normal for men to do sexual things with other men, but they wouldn’t be considered “gay” as we think of it today, because they had wives and such, and because they were “aggressive” in the sex act with the guys they slept with; they’d be considered “more manly”. The passive in such acts however were often ridiculed and definitely not seen as men.

    Then you had men, who were intimate with other men, but because they were in love, and would see each other as equals; they’d never engage in penetration sex- they’d do something else- which we today call “frot”- but all cultures had a word for it which always translates to “rubbing of the genitals”. That type of sex between men was seen as “ideal” and “manly” and was always done among the warrior/fighter/soldier class. Only women, and men lower in status socially (slave boy), were to be penetrated.

  • Cyrus

    In Islamic cultures the word “gay” equals to and effeminate man.
    A masculine man cannot possibly be gay -per definition. Having receptive sex with a man does not necessarily mean that you are/ become effeminate. If you do, then you are “gay”. If not, you are and remain a man. In which case you may even marry and have children.
    So the Pashtuns do not live in a state of denial, as many readers think. It is just a matter of definition.

  • hafeezkhan

    if any one sayng like ths k pashton tribe hve soft heart againt gays fuck up his mothr if pashton waz nt preznt in afghanistan afg wil b nt afg .afg name wil b change by usa

  • Jame

    I am from Afghanistan i am expecting there are a lot of gays but they are not calling gay because our culture is not allowing . If some one say that i am a gay people will kill him and i am also a gay.

  • Butch52

    @McShane: I agree with the post that mentioned that the Arabs have m2m sex but it is not classified as homosexuality there is no emothional connection between the participating parites. I am involved with an Arab have been for 4 years and their is no emotional contact we are as he puts it friends. I prefer it that way also. It is in the Western religions that it is labeled homosexuality etc. As far as the military that just kills me. I had been in the service served 3 years during the Vietnam era and believe me there were homosexuals in the service. The gays were well hidden from the routine witch hunts they use to do. They were not having sex with other soldiers maybe the cilivans and yes maybe other soldiers but it was well hidden. So this is nothing new it is just more relaxed. I doubt whether the soldiers are having sex with other soldiers because of the same reason they didnt’t when I was in the service. No one wants the unwanted attention the stigmatisn etc of that sort of thing. Then of course we still have a great deal of homophobia in this world. I was truly pissed when they were talking about how would straight soldiers in the service showering with them. I showered wtih straight guys never once raped a one of them-hummmm never once grabbed molested one of them hummmm did I look at how they were equipped perhaps but then again tell me what straight guy who doesnt sneak a peek but do we dwell on it hell no. So get over it. Gays were there during WW! and WW2 and the Korean War and the Vietnam war no one needed to ask and no one needed to tell, They just didnt suddenly appear! They have served honorably like I did and they would kill just like any straight dude if they or their platoon or company was in danger. Get over the stero typed that all gays are femminine-yes there are those but then again there are the majority you could not even tell whether they are straight or gay. The fact is who I prefer to sleep with should not be of any interest to you unless of course you are interested in sleeping with me.

  • Khalil

    If u look at history, Spartan solgers had gay sex before they married.
    And on the wedding night they would shave girl and she would sneak to his tent or bed in the middle of the night.
    And if the man were not married by sertain age they, they where not allowed to watch wrestling matches.
    As werstlers had no clothes on them.
    European cultures are more tolerant to to sex b4 marriage
    In Muslim cultures if a girl have sex before marriage she would be killed
    And even now parents or brothers who makes honour killing won’t be prosecuted.
    I met a Pakistani gay and I asked him how he become gay? He told me his cousin had first sex with him.
    Over 50 years ago most men would marry by the age of 20. Now over 30 as its hard to pay for wedding and if u have no money no one would marry u!!!
    I think Muslims and every culture needs to find middle ground… It’s gonna take time and education to change people’s mind. If someone gay by nature it’s fine. But if someone become gay by nurture I think it’s wrong!

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