Sexuality is fluid—and not just for women.
When a woman kisses another woman in a bar, no one immediately labels her as gay. It’s simply thought of as “hot.” But if a straight guy kisses another guy in any way that could possibly be described as sexual, he’s thought of as gay or bi, or in total denial of his homosexuality.
Women are thought of as fluid when it comes to their sexuality, but with men it’s another story.
However, straight guy-on-guy action isn’t always gay, as evidenced in the fraternity hazing ritual the Elephant Walk—which is described as a group of guys forming a straight line, grabbing the erect penis of the guy behind them with one hand and putting their thumb in the anus of the guy in front of them.
Or online ads where straight men seek straight men to watch straight porn and talk about women…while they jerk off. And let’s not forget the long and complicated history of heterosexual men going to public restrooms with other men and still identifying as straight, with very hetero lives.
Homosexual contact has been a regular part of heterosexual life since time began and it doesn’t just happen when there are no women available, or when someone is forced to participate in homosexual sex.
In an interview with Queerty, Ward says, “What I argue in the book is that straight men actually manufacture opportunities to have sexual contact with each other all the time in pretty much any environment, whether it’s constrained or not, whether women are available or not.”
By looking at same-sex sexual practices as meaningless, accidental, or even necessary, straight white men can perform homosexual contact in heterosexual ways.
These sex acts aren’t accidental ways of expressing a secret desire to have a gay identity; instead, they show the fluidity and complexity that characterizes all human sexual desire.
In an interview with New York Magazine‘s Science of Us, Ward explains some reasons straight men might have gay sex.
“One of the primary reasons they do it, ironically, is as a way of strengthening their heterosexuality and expressing their homophobia. It’s like, ‘If I can stick my finger in another dude’s butt and I can make a big show of how gross I think it is and when I’m done I can stand up, still a straight dude, totally unbroken, not a fag, then I’m all the more heterosexual.'”
Men have always been as sexually fluid as women…we just haven’t been able to accept it.
Christine Schoenwald has had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Purple Clover, Your Tango, XoJane, and is a regular writer for Bustle. In her spare time, she performs in spoken word shows all over Los Angeles.
This originally appeared on YourTango. Republished here with permission.