Pillow talk

Utah sees a spike in the number of straight men having gay sex

Is Utah seeing a spike in the number of straight-identifying men having gay sexual relations?

According to Kristin Hodson, a sex therapist who founded the Rocky Mountain Sex Summit, the answer is: YES! And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

“There’s been so much historic suppression in Utah,” Hodson, who also teaches human sexuality at the University of Utah, tells the Bristol Herald Courier. “People eventually get to a point where they realize sexuality is inherently who we are–it just is.”

“Everybody needs to feel community and connection and a sense of belonging, to know they’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with them. People have had enough of large institutions like the church and the Legislature telling them what is and is not OK.”

Related: More and more straight men can’t get enough of this stimulating backdoor activity

She continues, “Growing up Mormon, your sexuality is defined for you, and the rules are set the moment you’re born. You’re straight–otherwise, they’ll tell you it’s just an attraction and you can overcome that.”

But these times they are a-changing.

Over the past year, Hodson says she’s seen a huge increase in people, many of whom have LDS backgrounds, coming to her office wanting to talk openly about sex.

“We’re seeing straight men who are wanting to have sex with other men, not because they’re gay, but because they want to have that experience,” she says.

“That moves sexuality out of the binary. Once people aren’t scared or ashamed of their sexuality, then they can engage in non-risky ways.”

Lynn Beltran, an STD and HIV epidemiology supervisor with the Salt Lake County Health Department, tells Bristol Herald Courier that people’s willingness to be more open about their sexual desires will have a positive impact on public health, in general.

“Dialogue helps them better moving forward, which is part of the effort to take away some of the shame about sex, especially in a place with such unique characteristics as Utah,” Beltran says.

The state has markedly high STD rates, which Beltran calls an “epidemic situation,” especially with syphilis and gonorrhea cases.

“There’s still a lot of struggling with attitudes about sex,” she says. “Burying our heads in the sand and ignoring it, that perpetuates this negative shaming culture.”

Related: Survey finds a surprising number of straight men have some pretty gay tendencies