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Every now and then, we would read comments here on the blog saying that gay sex isn’t just anal sex, that there are many ways to have sex with one’s partner. Indeed, anal sex is often seen as the hallmark of gay male intimacy, but recent studies challenge this stereotype. Is this true for you?

In an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the sexual experiences of gay and bisexual men, researchers from Indiana University and George Mason University conducted a survey of nearly 25,000 individuals. The study aimed to move beyond the typical focus on HIV in academic research and explore the diversity and complexity of these men’s sexual lives.

To achieve this, the researchers asked gay and bisexual-identified men aged 18 to 87 to describe their most recent sexual encounter, including details such as the type of sexual activity, the location, the presence of a partner or stranger, and the use of condoms. By collecting this information, the study hoped to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the sexual experiences of gay and bisexual men. Specifically, they were asked, and we quote, “Did it involve kissing, cuddling, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex? Did it happen with a boyfriend, spouse, stranger, or sex worker? Was it in a car, a home, a club? Were condoms used?”

The results of a comprehensive survey reveal some surprising findings. The aforementioned study finds gay and bisexual men have varied sexual repertoires.

Contrary to popular belief, “sexual behaviors involving the anus were least common,” researchers discovered. In their most recent sexual encounters, around 75 percent of participants reported engaging in kissing, giving oral sex, and/or receiving oral sex. By contrast, only 36 percent of men reported receiving anal sex and 34 percent reported giving it.

Moreover, the study found that half of the participants who engaged in anal sex used a condom, indicating a significant concern for sexual health and safety. The most common sequence of activities, as reported by 16 percent of men, included “holding their partner romantically, kissing their partner on the mouth, solo masturbation, masturbating their partner, being masturbated by their partner, and genital–genital contact.”

These findings highlight a broader range of sexual behaviors and preferences among gay men than the mainstream narrative suggests. The emphasis on non-penetrative activities such as kissing and mutual masturbation underscores the emotional and intimate dimensions of gay male relationships, which are often overlooked. Read the study in full here.

We want to hear from you! Do these findings resonate with your experiences? How do you and your partner(s) typically have sex? When was the last time you had sex, and what did it involve—anal sex, oral sex, or masturbation? Share your thoughts and personal experiences in the comments section below. Your insights can help us further understand the rich diversity of gay male intimacy and debunk common myths.

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