Anal sex has become conflated with the male gay or bisexual experience — so much so that the top-vs-bottom question is often the first talking point in Grindr chats. So much so that it’s often the punchline of homophobic jokes. And so much so that people think you have to be into anal to be a gay or bi man (just as they think you have to be a gay or bi man to be into anal).
Take this question from a curious Redditor: “Can you be in a relationship with a guy and not be into the top and bottom stuff?”
“I’m into guys,” the author explains, “but the whole top/bottom stuff doesn’t look enjoyable to me.”
The overwhelming response from commenters? This dude isn’t alone.
In fact, in a study of men who have sex with men — a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2011 — less than 40 percent of respondents had engaged in anal intercourse during their last sexual event.
“Of all sexual behaviors that men reported occurring during their last sexual event, those involving the anus were the least common,” observed Joseph Rosenberger, lead author of the study. “There is certainly a misguided belief that ‘gay sex equals anal sex,’ which is simply untrue much of the time.”
Consider what Alim Kheraj writes for GQ: “Sex isn’t one-size fits all, and that applies to anal. Some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of anal penetration, or have tried it and found that it really isn’t for them. This should be common sense, but it’s worth repeating. Additionally, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for a partner. To limit oneself to just a single flavor is to shut out a smorgasbord of new experiences.”
Two men deciding to have sex is just the beginning of the conversation about what happens next, as sex columnist Dan Savage has repeatedly argued. And even he said he doesn’t do anal every time he has sex.