This post is the first in what I'm planning as a regular Sunday feature called "How's That Work?" This feature will draw on my experience as an alternative sexuality educator, as well as that of my colleagues, to explain the whys and hows of a range of sex and relationship practices that Bilerico readers may be less familiar with.
Some gay guys don't enjoy, or can't have penetrative anal sex.
For most of us, this is not news. However, many heterosexual people, TV pundits, equality opponents, and even young gay men think that life as a gay guy must revolve around an endless schedule of ass-pounding.
As a sex educator, I probably talk to at least one or two gay guys a month who are worried that they can't have a fulfilling sex life because for one reason or another anal sex is off the table. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the puzzlement I've encountered when trying to explain that there's more to gay life than ass play when talking to people who aren't gay men.
So why then might a gay guy not participate in anal sex?
The obvious answer can be as simple as not liking it. There are guys who just don't like anal sex. I know guys who've put serious time and energy into giving anal sex a try, and just found that it wasn't for them.
That's not the only reason someone might not engage in anal sex though. For other guys there is unshakable societal or cultural conditioning around asses that they just can't break out of.
Then of course, there are guys with histories around anal sex that make the act less enjoyable for them. Obviously the first thing one thinks of here is an abuse history, but there are plenty of other factors that could be at play. I knew a guy who had a long-term relationship end, and for years after he wasn't comfortable engaging in anal sex because it brought back too many memories of his ex, who had been the first person he had that kind of sex life with.
Lastly there are a range of physical/medical issues that can make anal sex not terribly comfortable or feasible.
So then, what else is there?
As it turns out, there's everything else.
That may sound overly simplistic, and I'm not trying to diminish the awesomeness that is anal sex for many people (myself included). But truth be told, if your sexual horizons stop at the ass, you're missing out on a whole world of intimate activities.
The following gets a bit (more) not-safe for work, so be warned.
Here are a small sample of popular activities that people who don't engage in anal play may choose to focus on:
Oral sex - There's a perception among many people that oral sex is only useful as a prelude to the "main event," but that doesn't have to be the case. A lot of intimacy can be found in the act of oral sex, if that's what one is going for. Switching it up with a variety of techniques and positions can yield a surprising range of sensations and levels of interpersonal intimacy.
Frot - I'll admit, when I first heard about two men rubbing their penises together, or frot (short for frottage), I thought it sounded like the sort of thing boys at summer camp who hadn't yet gotten up the gumption for oral sex would do. But it's an extremely popular activity, and one that (speaking personally) I was quickly won over by. It's something that takes some practice to become adroit at, and different preferences and anatomies will require adjustments in practice.
Mutual masturbation/manual stimulation - Our hands are one of the primary ways we experience the world around us, and our finger tips are some of the most sensitive parts of our bodies. Yet, again this form of play is sadly seen by many as useful only as foreplay or a safer-sex alternative most suitable to a new partner or casual hookup.
Intercrural penetration - You may know this better as "thighfucking" or a range of other popular slang terms, but put simply, it refers to thrusting one's penis between someone's legs, usually with the assistance of some lube. This particular form of play is a nice anal sex alternative when one or both partners are looking for an experience that is reminiscent of anal sex. The positions used can be nearly identical, and some people find that the experience of the penetrating partner in particular, can be quite similar.
Docking - One of the most intimate forms of penetrative sex in my personal opinion, docking is the practice of inserting the head of one partner's penis into the foreskin of the other partner. Obviously not everyone's anatomy is compatible with docking play, but with the right partner a number of activities are possible, including (gentle) thrusting and manual stimulation.
I focused here on a few physical activities that people may use to expressly take the place of anal intercourse, but obviously there are thousands of different ways people choose to have sex or experience physical intimacy. Likewise, all the forms of play listed here can and often are enjoyed by people who also enjoy anal sex.
Have a romantic, relationship, or sexual practice that you want to understand better? Send Winter an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with "How's That Work" in the title and we'll try to include it in a future post.
img src: "Who Knows What You'll Find When You Ask Questions" by Flickr user Raymond Bryrson