A new study from George Mason University, Indiana University, and the OLB Research Institute at Online Buddies, Inc. investigated the sexual behaviors of men who have sex with men and found 1,308 unique combinations of behaviors that men engage in. The study is distinct in that it is not risk-focused, as much of the research about men who have sex with men can be due to high rates of HIV among that group. As such, the results suggest that safe sex education may be propagating unrealistic expectations about the sexuality of gay and bi men and missing important opportunities to improve their sexual health. As lead author Joshua G. Rosenberger points out:
Of all sexual behaviors that men reported occurring during their last sexual event, those involving the anus were the least common [less than 40 percent]. There is certainly a misguided belief that ‘gay sex equals anal sex,’ which is simply untrue much of the time.
In addition, the study found that more than 40 percent of participants were engaging with someone they were dating or committed to. Results were not so different for heterosexuals, who in another study reported their last sexual partner was someone they were committed to just over half of the time. In other words, men who have sex with men are not particularly less monogamous than opposite-sex couples.
The new data provides an important opportunity to dispel the myth that all gay and bi men have (and should have) anal sex. The results also found that ratings for pleasure were higher among older men and frequency of orgasm was higher when with a relationship partner. All of these findings can help advocates promote sexual lives for men who have sex with men that are both healthier and more personally fulfilling.