"Does Liking Anal Play Mean I'm Gay?"
In this Head Board article, we’re getting to the – ahem – bottom of the question, “If I’m a man who likes anal play, does that mean I’m gay?”.
Here to offer answers is award-winning journalist and sex educator Alix Fox, co-host of BBC Radio 1’s real-life comedy sex stories show, Unexpected Fluids, and resident X-rated agony aunt on The Modern Mann podcast.
Alix is also a proud Ambassador for young people’s sexual health charity Brook, so when it comes to bums, you know she’s not talking out of her arse.
OK, my Puzzled-About-Posterior-Play Posse, let’s have a conversation about anal stimulation! I’m going to break this question down into easily digestible parts. Starting with…
Why do some guys enjoy having their butts played with?
There are two main reasons why some fellas get pumped by stimulation of the rump: biological, and psychological.
Biological reasons why ass play can be pleasin':
People who have penises also have a gland in their bodies called a prostate. It's about the size of a walnut (although it gets a little bigger with age), and its main function is to secrete a milky-coloured fluid that makes up about 30%-50% of the volume of semen which is released each time a man ejaculates.
It's also equipped with some smooth muscles that help to squeeze and shoot that ejaculate out.
The prostate is nestled right next to the anterior rectal wall: that's the inside of the rectum, towards the front of the body. This means that if you pop a finger, or a toy, or a penis 7-10cm up a man's bottom and rub or push it against this area, you can massage the prostate through the rectal tissue.
This can feel really, really good – so much so that the prostate is sometimes called 'The Male G-Spot' or 'The P-Spot'.
It's possible to make a man cum via prostate stimulation alone, without ever touching his penis. Another name for this is 'prostate milking', and many guys say it feels distinctly different to a 'standard' orgasm.
Some report the feeling as being 'larger and more spread out', or 'like the sensation at the very beginning of a climax produced by penile stimulation, but lasting much longer'. Enticing, huh?
In addition, the opening of the anus and the surrounding area is packed with super-sensitive nerve endings which can feel deliciously, deliriously sexy when stroked, licked, gently stretched, or otherwise manipulated.
So, there are lots of physical reasons why a man's bum can feel yum. Men who are straight, men who are gay, and men who are any of the other wonderful variations on the sexuality spectrum may all enjoy anal play because they all have a prostate and/or butt-based nerve endings.
Psychological reasons why ass play can be pleasin':
Another aspect influencing why some people enjoy playing with their behinds has to do with their minds.
The appeal doesn't just lay in how butt play makes their bodies feel, but how they feel mentally about what's happening to their bodies.
Mainstream society traditionally teaches us that in an everyday context, touching or playing with our bottoms is 'naughty' or 'filthy' – children are told not to do it because of the risk of germs.
Whilst issues with bacteria aren't so much of a risk for informed, responsible adults practicing good hygiene and safer sex, the idea that ass play is somehow taboo, forbidden and transgressive persists for many people... and that can make it feel all the more thrilling, daring and intense.
Allowing someone to play with your butt can also feel exceedingly intimate. Letting a partner explore this private part of you can require huge trust, and some find permitting themselves to be vulnerable in this context to be a deeply bonding experience.
And if you're a guy inviting a girl to penetrate you, whether it's with her finger, a butt plug or a strap-on dildo, 'swapping roles' in this way to become the one being entered rather than the one doing the entering and experimenting with different power dynamics can be educational, enlightening and exciting.
Wanting to feel excited, or naughty, or submissive, or daring, or deeply connected, or adventurous... None of these things make you gay. They just make you a pleasure-seeking human being.
OK, I get it: straight men can enjoy butt play because they, um, HAVE BUTTS, and also because they have brains, which can help them experience all sorts of ass-ociated enjoyable emotions (dang, I'm even getting the hang of these puns!). But...
Isn't anal activity strongly linked to the gay community?
Sure, it is – but a helluvalotta straight people are getting up to it and down to it as well, and their numbers are growing. Some of them are just less willing to be honest about it, because sadly anal action still carries a lot of undeserved shame, stigma and fear in much of conventional society, although attitudes are gradually changing and minds are opening up (as well as buttholes).
This study from the Journal of Sex Research is just one of several that backs up my backside-themed assertions, if you want more solid stats and evidence.
Plus, it’s a myth that all gay men practice anal play or penetration. You may be familiar with the terms ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ to denote the ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’ in anal sex, but have you heard of a ‘side’? Coined by clinical sex therapist Dr. Joe Kort, it’s a name for a gay man who prefers to engage in different types of sexual play aside from anal, e.g. oral, or mutual masturbation.
We really need to get rid of the misleading, inhibiting mentality that says ‘butt things equal gay things’. Because it’s bollocks. Unless you’re a man doing butt things with someone who actually has bollocks, i.e. another man*, anal play isn’t inherently gay.
And even then it might not be totally gay.
Wondering about what it might be like to do butt stuff with another guy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay.
Viewing porn or imagining erotic scenarios involving guys doing butt stuff with other guys doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay.
And actually doing butt stuff with another guy – none of this necessarily makes you gay!
It might mean you’re bisexual, or pansexual. It might mean you’re exploring your sexuality and haven’t decided what’s comfiest for you yet (and if you need support with that, the LGBT Foundation and Switchboard will be happy to chat to you).
It might mean you're mostly straight but with some gay-ish-flavoured fantasies that you may or may not ever act upon but that tickle your pickle to think about. Or maybe you define as straight, but in the right context, if the right bloke suggested something that sounded fun and you were feeling bold... then who knows?
It doesn't truly matter what it means, so long as you and anyone else involved in your sex life are having a good time.
Even after reading all this, I still feel icky about anal play being gay
If you're worried about anything 'being gay' because you think being gay is gross, or repellent, or undesirable, then you are homophobic and you need to sort that out.
Because never mind butt play, you are being a butthead. C'mon – you're better than that. Some people are gay. Get over it. And if you start talking to some of them, you might find you get on.
Which toys are good for first-time bum fun?
Right, I'm clear that liking anal play doesn't mean I'm gay, and that it would be fine if I was anyway. I'm ready to get hot-hot-hot with my botty-bot. Gimme some inspiration!
With small proportions that aren't too intimidating for beginners and a shape specially designed to caress the right hot spots, this tool allows you massage your own prostate, which can be tricky to reach yourself with your fingers.
Perfect for singletons or guys who want to experiment and suss out their bodies alone before involving a partner.
Lube is a MUST for anal play, since unlike vaginas, bottoms don't make their own moisture.
This is super-slick and thick, long-lasting, latex-condom-friendly, vegan-friendly and odourless. Ticks all the butt boxes.
The T-shaped base means this won't dangerously disappear up your derriere, and with three different vibration speeds and seven patterns, your bottom won't get bored any time soon.
Plus, you can take the vibrating unit out and use it on erogenous zones elsewhere, making this a very versatile and top value toy.
* Of course, some trans men don't have bollocks, and some cis men who've had cancer or other medical complications don't have bollocks. I was just stretching that bollock gag out. Speaking of which, if you want a gag, or a ball stretcher, Lovehoney can sort you out.
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