It was an ex-boyfriend’s insatiable love of watching both Sex And The City DVDs and former Australian professional racing cyclist Cadel Evans in tiny, sweaty lycra shorts during the Tour de France for hours on end which first rang alarm bells in my head.
Was I, in fact, dating a gay man, or a bi-curious one at that? I’d dated stranger, I told myself, and endeavoured to have an open mind when it came to the very handsome and very fit, body-obsessed and bathroom-hogging, new boyfriend whom I’d been dating for a month or so several years back. Perhaps he was just very metrosexual? And gender roles were becoming increasingly blurred, these days, I consoled myself.
My gay friends, of course, happily claimed him as one of their own – was my gay-dar that far off? Meanwhile, best girlfriends I’d roped in to meet “new guy” were as equally flummoxed as me. We were having sex, and lots of it, so he couldn’t possibly be gay, right? Wrong. My gay posse ala Sex and the City (pictured) were all over it, even though I didn’t want to believe it at first.
Ah the beauty of hindsight: sure, there were other tell-tale signs, such as his extreme love of fashion and beauty (a gay stereotype if there ever was one); but ultimately it was this ex-boyfriend’s shocking reveal at my home one day which convinced me he truly was batting for the other team. Imagine my dismay, when said man appeared on my doorstep, ready to collect me for another date (did I mention he also really loved shopping?) and quickly dropped his trousers, proudly presenting me with his new crack, back ‘n’ sack waxing treatment he’d just had done. The horror!
Now, I am fully aware it’s common practice for both straight and gay men to indulge in the full-wax thing these days, but in my experience at least, it’s not something a lot of Gen-X straight men are into – and that’s my generation, baby. A best friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, strongly disagrees with me on this point, but she recently moved from Sydney to Brisbane, and spent all her singleton time in the former city, so I say she’s at least wrong re: heteros’ pubic hair habits in the sunshine state, where I’m based.
And to this day, I still don’t know what impression I ever gave said ex that that was something I’d love. For the record, I like a manly man with furry bits! And my face must have given away my utter dismay, for he exclaimed: “Don’t you like my present?” Present?! All I could do was think at the time: “Oh honey, that’s not really for me.” And so we finally had the awkward chat about his obvious gayness, to which he reluctantly confessed, and we split amicably. And thankfully, just as I myself was about to swear off the opposite sex, I met my very manly and straight, future husband not long after that.
Have you ever dated a gay or a bi-curious man too, ladies? It’s an increasingly common social phenomenon according to Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being.
“Why are we becoming more bisexual? Perhaps we are just owning it more, or perhaps we are having more opportunity to play with sex and identity,” Dr Mars says. “If I had a dollar for every time anyone said ‘I’m not out at work’ to me I would be rich.
“I 100 per cent guarantee you that you know people who are gay, kinky, queer… And that you don’t know it. People who like sex and have a lot of sex are more likely to experiment with bisexuality. Pan-sexual is a good, encompassing term. It’s about being kinky, gay, bi, queer… It generally means someone who is sexually adventurous and is willing to give new things a go.”
So, why do gay men sometimes have lots of straight sex, I asked the good doctor – why bother? “Gay men sometimes have sex with women; I have gay friends who were once married, I am saying gay deliberately here as they are as far from bisexual as you can get,” Dr Mars says. “One says of his marriage, ‘The sex was okay, but men get me up quicker’, while the other just likes having sex and if there happens to be a woman involved, that’s okay too.
“Sometimes gay men date women because they haven’t yet realised they are gay or because they are gay and they want to have a family, or because there is a level of internalised homophobia that makes it not okay for them to express their gayness or to claim a gay identity.
“And often gay men have sex with women because they are curious about what it’s about. They might want to try strap-on sex or something else the woman is good at that they haven’t tried before, or they might meet a couple and be attracted to the man and end up having sex with both of them.
“I like the Robbie Williams’ song Swings Both Ways, with the lyrics:
‘Everybody swings both ways…
And after I’ve done her
Well you can do me
Dr Mars says recent research she did with Australia’s largest adult dating site, Adult Match Maker, which attracted more than 7600 Australian anonymous respondents, revealed that even people who aren’t interested in having sex with someone who is of a different gender to their normal partner would do it if their partner asked them to.
“As sexual identity categories soften and become more flexible, people are more likely to have a variety of different kinds of sex,” Dr Mars explains. “A gay man can have sex with a woman and still be gay. I can have sex with a gay man and it’s not heterosexual sex.
“Sex is a skill and it’s good to have sex with people who have excellent sexual prowess. After all, we learn the most about sex when we are having the best sex.”
What do you think? Have you ever dated a gay man?
Images via Huffington Post, Salon, Baller Alert
Nicole is a Queensland-based writer and bona fide word nerd whose first love (apart from heels) is feature writing. Follow Nicole on Twitter.