Gay Times May 10 - Issue 380
Life after wife
A recent poll and Gareth Thomas’ decision to come out have shone the spotlight on men who have sex with men while they are still married. Nick Rutherford talks to “straight” men about their secret gay lives.
More from Gay Times May 10 - Issue 380
We are constantly being told that it is easier to be gay today than ever before, and yet it seems there are still people who struggle with coming to terms with their sexuality.
Some, such as Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, choose to get married to a woman and only come out later. Others see themselves as genuinely bisexual or as “men who have sex with men but are not gay”.
A recent survey by dating website Mancentral.com found that 54% of the 3,500 gay men who took part reject the label “gay”. Only 20 per cent consider themselves “gay”, while 15 per cent prefer to call themselves “men who have sex with men” and 18 per cent reject any form of label. There appear to be far more bisexual or bi-curious men on Mancentral (around 45% of the total) than in the average gay bar, indicating as well that those men are using the internet to find an outlet for sex.
Mancentral PR manager Lee Martin said: “It seems that while many men are in fact gay or bisexual, they dislike the label and the prescribed identity that is attached to it.”
He believes the internet and mobile phones have made it easier for men who don’t consider themselves to be gay to meet like-minded males for sex: “Some men may have a wife or girlfriend but choose to have the occasional encounter with another man; and it is these men that are most dismissive of the gay label. Though many people would argue that a man who has sex with another man is gay, bisexual or homosexual, there appears to be a grey area where some men fall.”
Matthew Hodson, head of programming at gay health charity GMFA, says the way people define themselves depends on how comfortable they are with their sexuality and this is dependent on things like their age and where they live. “It’s much easier to identify as a gay man if you live in an urban area such as London, Brighton or Manchester,” he argues.
He referred to the Gay Men’s Sex Survey carried out by Sigma Research in 2007 in which 86 per cent of the almost 15,000 people who took part identified as gay.
“There does seem to be a significant difference in the number of men who identify in [the Mancentral] survey with being gay from the number who identified with being gay in the gay men’s health survey,” he said.
“Anything focussing solely on people online, is going to be reaching out to people who haven’t as much of a gay identity, who don’t use the gay scene and perhaps as a result have a different way of viewing those labels associated with a gay identity. As someone who works in HIV prevention, I have concerns about that, in that they might be vulnerable and have no access to proper HIV and sexual health information or they may be pressurised into doing things they might not do otherwise.”
The whole article appears in the May 2010 issue of GT out now