Yes, the title is a bit of click-bait, but you are here, so it worked.

This is a topic that we have wanted to tackle for some time because it affects how we see ourselves and each other sexually. Basically, you are a whore because society says you are. All gay males are considered to be sexually promiscuous and this belief has been codified with HIV infection rates. In society’s eyes, the number of your sexual partners does not really matter because your homosexuality defines you more than any actual sexual activity.

When compared to our straight brothers, our numbers are either higher or on average, depending on the study you read. We discussed the complexities behind counting sexual partners and what exactly counts as sex, in our article here. But don’t worry, we are sex positive and believe that you have the right to choose your partners as well as the number you enjoy. Here, we would simply like to explain how we became branded as the whores of the world and the damage it causes us all. 

 Let’s begin…

There are obvious issues of stigma against gay male sexual activity, outside of and within our community. But to have an honest dialogue about the causes and concerns we must first create a logical frame to work back from, to narrow the field of vision of discussion. Otherwise, we would be here all day, and get nothing done.

It is not easy to talk about gay sex stigma and we are not claiming to have all of the answers, or for that matter, all of the questions. But, we can assist in breaking down the constructs that inhibit our ability to have happy, healthy sex lives.

In the most basic of terms, gay sex stigma begins with the Judeo-Christian values centered around sex as they have effected the modern western world. Of course, other regions and religions have approached the issue of sex differently over time, but if you are reading this, you are most likely living in a western country that has been greatly influenced by biblical texts and puritanical attitudes.

The perceived purpose of sex

Depending on your personal viewpoint, there are a few purposes to sexual activity. If you were fortunate to be raised in a home that was either neutral about sexual activity or expressed sex positive opinions, your current views regarding intercourse are probably healthier than the average gay male, who was raised in a home that was silent regarding homosexuality, at best, or outright homophobic, at worst.

We speak of “perceived purpose” of sex, because, as stated earlier, this will and has changed from culture to culture, and throughout time. At our current point in history, our views regarding sexual intercourse are quite rigid and based on fundamentalist values. This is most common in countries like the United States that have a complicated relationship between goverment and religion.

Religious Values

Go forth and multiply” is a commonly known sentiment from the bible regarding sex and procreation. The wasting of a man’s “seed” was viewed as against god because pulling out and/or masturbation did not lead to the creation of life. It was the exact opposite.

The outgrowth of this ideology established a view of sex that is three pronged.

First: Sexual intercouse is an activity for the sole purpose of procreation.

Second: Because the act of procreation is necessitated upon a penis and a vagina, the act is only to be performed by heterosexuals.

Third: For the sake of family unity and the long term health of the clan, sex out of wedlock is forbidden.

Taken at its breath, the religious views and tenets about sex do not leave room for homosexuals, and biblical texts are interpreted to support this. So, gay male sex stigma, begins with the mores created around sexual activities themselves.

A fun fact about the word sodomy. Many erroneously believe it to be just another term for anal sex, but in actuality it applies to any sexual act that does not, nor can not, end in procreation, such as oral sex.

Hypocrisy

The Catholic Church is well known for its views on homosexuality. In the United States they are even given a legal pass on discriminating against our community based on these religious views. A casual observer would suspect that those who hold such strong opinions against homosexuality would also hold themselves to a higher standard of maintaining the same vigilance that they expect from their parishioners. But, we all know that is not the case. Child rape and male sexual abuse is a huge problem within the confines of the priesthood and lawsuits have plagued them for decades. We will never know the true number of boys and young men molested by these holy men because from local parishes to the Vatican, files are destroyed, victims paid into silence and the church moves the perpetrators off to another unsuspecting church.

This is also the method used by another religious focused group, The Boy Scouts of America. Not a church, per se, but based on alleged christian values, the stories about molestation within scouting have spawned numerous books, as well as lawsuits. All ironic when you consider that this organization was sued, by multiple states, for their expulsion of known homosexual scouts, and a total ban against new members and leaders who happen to be gay.

Before we leave you believing that only christians have this high level of hypocrisy against homosexual male sex, let us introduce you to the term Bacha bazi. This “is a slang term in some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan for a custom involving child sexual abuse between older men and young adolescent males or boys, who are called dancing boys. The custom is connected to sexual slavery and child prostitution. Force and coercion are common, and security officials state they are unable to end such practices because many of the men involved in bacha bazi-related activities are powerful and well-armed warlords”.

 All of this is without counting the major issues of poverty, homelessness, drug abuse and child rape in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. It is estimated that millions of boys have been abused over the decades in this one city alone!

And, not to be left out, claims of boy and young male molestation even persists within the Jewish faith. 

Societal Views and Mores

Even though male homosexuals have existed as long as there have been humans, how societies have viewed us, and by extension, our sexual acts has varied. Christianity created the largest rift between us and straight society, and we have not been able to dig ourselves out of this hole, yet.

The beginning of the last century saw gay males standing up and fighting for more rights and freedoms. Sometimes this was motivated by laws criminalizing our sexual behaviours or crackdowns on bars and clubs we were known to frequent. The Age of AIDS opened the eyes of many inside of our community about the need for not only marriage rights but those connected with housing, employment and of course healthcare. Throughout the western world, religion has always been the core justification for denying us basic human rights. Countries that are less reliant on religion, like The Netherlands, are known to be much more tolerant of homosexulilty and leaders in full equality.

But, there is something a bit more primal at work. Religion is used as the reason but the true motivation is based on the way humans view the body, and especially the male body.

First: The body itself, is considered dirty and disgusting. It is unclean from a standpoint of religious conceit but also in normal practical application of daily living.

Second: Of all of the body parts, there is nothing dirtier, more gross and undesirable than the anus. Any association with this body part is considered disgusting and not to be spoken of.

Third: Males are the penetrators and women are the ones who are penetrated. Deviation from this biblical script is considered unnatural.

When homosexuality is viewed through the lens of a heteronormative society, gay male sexual lives garner the most focus because of these concepts. They cannot separate the men from the activity. This also may be heightened by the actions of the gay community itself. Because does not take much for our community to strive towards a greater level of sexual freedom than the average straight person can handle regarding sexual acts conducted by anyone.

In a world when most, errounsuly, equate perception with reality, we can not escape having our sex lives judged and then stigmatized by the larger society.

Homophobia

No matter how liberal the home environment you were raised in, it was still homophobic. This could have been by purposeful design, avoidance or silence. Even if, by some miracle, you were able to have escaped this most common up-bringinig, you still had to contend with a hostile world outside of your door. From the neighbours, to the school yard, the mall to the church, homophobia in some shape form or fashion is part of our daily lives.

Because of the normalization and even legalization of homophobia, our community can also be some of the harshest participants. Internalized homophobia comes in various configurations, but many revolve around sexual acts and activities, because, as stated above, it is almost impossible to separate the gay man from gay sex in the minds of most humans.

The Straights

Heterosexuality is the default position for the human race. Without it, procreation and thus the continuation and survival of our species would not have been possible. But, with over eight (8) billion souls walking the planet, society is beginning to make space for homosexuals.

We do not have to explain to you how the straight world sees and processes “normal” sexual activity, because you have enough examples to challenge our own. It is shown casually in marketing materials, movies, books and on our televisions. Pop-up ads are filled with their activities and we, have no choice, but to remain silent and “deal with it”. But, put one, non sexual gay male, in a popular tv series and the backlash will be swift and severe.

To be clear, there are very distinct views regarding gay male sexuality verses other sexual orientation minorities. Gay male sex seems to be not only an affront to god and nature, but also both straight men and women. Laws around the world prove that we are punished much harsher than other homosexuals, with our practice being seen as worthy of caning, prison and of course, death.

The Gays

With all of the sexual stigma directed at us from the heterosexual world, one would think that inside of the gay male community twe would have created environments that are much more welcoming and sex positive. To some extent this is true. Again, this depends on where you live. But our brothers can be some of the harshest critics of our sex lives.

HIV/AIDS:

There can be no doubt that the HIV virus has shaped our lives for over 40 years. Before this time, gay male sex was seen as “dirty, wrong, bad” and worthy of a ticket straight to hell, but the worst physical manifestation of was an STD that was quickly and easily cured. HIV changed all of that. For the larger straight society, and yes, many within the gay community, this was seen as just punishment for sex lives that were unnatural and highly promiscuous. A punishment that was a long time in the making.

Because the first cases of AIDS were found in sexual hot spots like New York City and San Francisco, this seemed to add credence to the argument that our sexual lives should be stigmatized. The fear that gripped our community has not dissipated as much as one would have hoped. AIDS awareness slogans like “you’re sleeping with everyone he has ever slept with” and “you don’t know where he has been” only highlighted the assumption that all gay males are sexually overindulgent whores that can not be trusted.

Even as HIV testing has become normalized, treatment increasing the overall health and life expectancy of those living with the virus, and PrEP preventing infection by 99%, the stigma around sex within our community is still strong. This is evidenced by every advancement being viewed as a negative. Undetectable equals Uninfectious has been called an excuse for those with HIV to have unprotected sex with negative guys and PrEP only being a pill for so-called “truvada whores”.

Our collective and individual internalized homophobia rears its ugly head whenever our sex lives enter the conversation. This is most evident with those who subscribe to a model minority method of living.

Minority respectability:

There is a belief, that for any minority community to be accepted by the majority, they must show a high level of model respectability. In effect, they must “act” as close to the dominante community standards as possible and live as expected. This applies to race as well as sexual orientation

For gay males, this does not just impact the way we are expected to dress, speak and carry ourselves, but also how we are to comport our sexual lives to the concepts and beliefs of our straight peers. Many within our community consider marriage equality to be either the greatest step forward, or backwards, of our Rights movement. For some, it has afforded them the freedom to live as husbands with all of the legal and social benefits, but for others, it is a form of forced heteronormality that only provides equality based on marital status. 

Marriage Equality has also had the negative externality of overlaying the expectations of sex only after marriage and “dull boring” once a month sex on a community once known for hedonism. The issue is that our natural sexual desires have been used against us to keep us from gaining marriage equality, but also as a way to stymie sexual freedoms like open-relationships, in favour of a sanitized version of matrimonial bliss, once we have it. Falling outside of this arena, can quickly get you labeled as a whore by other members of our community.

Jealousy/Envy:

Contrary to what some want to convince you, gay males are actually, truly and really male. This means competition is within our DNA. This includes for sexual partners. Many refuse to see gay males as being both homosexual and male, with all of the aspects of both groups. We are not women and, no matter how much those on the far right or left try to influence our behaviours and actions, we will never be women.

Because competition is normal and even healthy in moderation, it should be no surprise that gay guys enjoy the hunt as well as conquest of sex. Some guys are proud of their prowess and will “shag and brag” to anyone that will listen. But, others may see this as disturbing behaviour that needs to be called out. Maybe it is jealousy and envy or maybe the guy is just being a nosey assshole, either way the effects are the same. Any male that has any level of pride, or a lack of shame, regarding his number of partners is quickly given the whore badge.

Uncomfortable Truth:

We might not want to accept it, but deep in our hearts we know the truth about gay sex stigmatization. Like with any very scary horror movie, the call is coming from inside the house. In this case, those most critical and judgemental about our sexual habits are other gay males. This direction of shaming is devastating because these are the people we trust with our most guarded secrets. These are the guys we believe will, and maybe should, understand, why we do what we do. When we instead receive stigma and ridiculing, the effects can be difficult to handle and long lasting.

If we look at a few relevant modern examples, the divide is clear. Gay male homosexuality is distinctly connected to gay male anal sex, which is equated with promiscuity and thus, HIV and STD infections. The term “Truvada whore” was not invented by a right-wing fanatical christian minister, rather an HIV positive gay man. Some of the staunches opponents to PrEP are not only members of the gay male community but long time HIV/AIDS activists and non-profit org leaders.

This is not to say that it is impossible for a gay man to be slut shamed by straights or straight society at large, rather that the most hurtful and effective comments and treatments will come from inside of our community. The cure for these actions is simple: 

MIND YOUR BUSINESS

MIND YOUR BUSINESS and then,

MIND YOUR BUSINESS 

Gay Sex positivity!

This might seem like a redundant concept but hear us out. Our community does not have very many positive ideas around sex. The majority of us grew up with shame and trauma around our homosexuality and this has translated into sometimes harmful outcomes. This includes an inability to connect with others without sex, needing drugs/alcohol to engage in sex, as well as after effects of shame and self loathing. Of course this is not the case for everyone, but for more than a comfortable amount of guys, this is their reality. They view sex as a necessary evil and not an enjoyable experience of pleasure, for pleasure’s sake.

It would also be beneficial to understand that for some, the lines between marriage and “single man on the town” are too extreme to handle. This becomes even more complex when you factor in the various types of relationships that gay males have normalized. None of this is bad, but it is all pretty new. Sex shaming, either towards or against, any sexual activity or number of partners is wrong.

From parks and public toilets, bars, clubs and saunas our community has spent a substantial amount of resources creating spaces for sexual expression. And to be honest, our freedoms and liberation have made some straights, and even gays, uncomfortable. But that is their shit to walk through, not ours. It is important for us to keep our perspective about our sex lives as high as possible because it is a natural and healthy part of being human. 

In the words of my late grandmother, the definition of a whore, is someone who is having more, and better sex, than you are. Learn to fully enjoy the sex you are having and stop counting the number or type that others are enjoying. If you are already having amazing sex, and feel the term fits, go on ahead and revel in your whore status. No one on his deathbed ever complained about having too much sex. So, do you boo!

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