Dear Pigeon Guts: Are Gay Men Promiscuous? Why So Much Unsafe Sex?

This week! Slutty gay men and touchy roommate situations. Plus, is it okay if you don’t find fem men attractive?

A Note From the Author: Lots of advice columns claim to have “the answers” about life, but this one really does! How can I be so sure? Because these aren’t merely my opinions: they’re the actual wisdom of the universe, which I discern, like the mystics of old, by peering into a heaping pile of pigeon guts. But not to worry: these pigeon guts are gay, gay, gay.

Need gay-related advice about life? Contact me here (and be sure and include your city and state and/or country!)

Dear Pigeon Guts: The other night I was with my best two girl friends and they grilled me on the topic of gay men being promiscuous. One of them worked on test program for some anti-AIDS medicine targeting promiscuous men, so of course she thinks gay men are promiscuous. My other friend surprised me by saying she always argued against the idea that gay men were promiscuous by pointing to me as an example, because I’m totally LTR-oriented. Except that last November I decided to give the whole gay scene a run for its money (and I won). She said if I’m promiscuous, every gay person is. The first friend said that anyone who had more than five sexual partners is considered promiscuous. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, are gay men promiscuous? What is considered promiscuous anyway? – Carlos, Lima, Peru

The Pigeon Guts Speak: First, your second friend is annoying. Slap her for me.

I’m about to speak in generalizations, so let me say up front: there are plenty of gay and bi men who cannot be considered promiscuous in any way.

No, seriously.

Do gay and bi men, on average, have more sex partners than straight people? Well, sorta, in general they do. But it’s not because they’re gay. It’s because they’re men.

For reasons that no one can completely explain – biological? cultural? some combination? – men in general have more sex partners than women. Not surprisingly, lesbian couples are more likely to be monogamous than straight couples, and straight couples are more likely to be monogamous than gay and bi men.

So gay and bi men are simply more slutty, right?

Not so fast. What would the sex lives of straight men be like if they could somehow have sex with other men and still be straight – if there wasn’t the presence of a female to put on the brakes? Or if more women were willing to have casual sex?

My theory (and plenty of sociologists agree with me) is that their sex lives would be, well, exactly like those of gay and bi men. After all, in Seattle (where I live) there are admittedly two gay male sex clubs, but there are some twenty-two straight male strip clubs, and the local news weeklies all pay their bills with page after page of ads for heterosexual escorts.

Which, since it’s mostly straight men who seem to be the most judgmental of GLBT folks, is kind of ironic, isn’t it?

There is the rare gay or bi man who has had over 100 sex partners – and post-AIDS, that really is rare (a 1989 study of 1450 gay men for example, found that one-tenth of one percent of us had had more than 100 lifetime partners – although that was before Grindr, so who knows if that’s still true?).

Yes, short of porn stars and professional athletes, there are probably still more uber-sluts among gay and bi men than heterosexual women and straight men. But I say that’s a question of access and opportunity, not fundamental temperament.

What is “promiscuous” exactly? It’s anyone who has had more sexual partners than I’ve had, which is a semi-slutty nine.

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