Bill Weintraub

This brief op-ed first appeared in the online zine on January 26, 2002.

Though few people realize it, our sexuality, like most things in life, is political, and our sexual choices, which we like to think of as coming from a place deep within, are actually heavily influenced by cultural messages, some of them conflicting, about what sex and gender should be.

For example, a mere forty years ago, virtually everyone, whether gay or straight, believed that only heterosexuality - specifically penile-vaginal heterosexuality - was normal and healthy, and that homosexuality was always the result of a dysfunctional family, an illness that had to be psychiatrically treated and cured.

Four decades later, relatively few consider homosexuality a disease. But, with many of the goals of the gay rights movement achieved, and the rise of a global and remarkably uniform LGBT culture, some of us have begun to wonder whether gay men haven't fallen into their own version of the "Hetero Trap," the belief that only one way of having sex is normal and right.

For despite all the talk of honoring diversity among us, when it comes to sex, most gay men have a very rigid and without question culturally-dictated standard: you're not really gay, they'll tell you, if you don't have anal sex.

Yet, and though not many men remember this today, anal sex didn't always rule the roost in gay male life.

In the 50s and 60s, oral sex was more popular, and guys into anal were sometimes derided as "brownie queens."

At the beginning of the 70s, when hippies reigned and bell-bottomed pants were all the rage, sex among gay men became a sort of smorgasbord, and it was considered really un-cool to ask your partner to have a kind of sex he didn't like. "Do your own thing" was the watchword, and instead of talking about "screwin'", guys got into "ballin'" - sex that wasn't goal-oriented and that was a lot more like play.

But around 1975, life became more conservative, and gay men did too. The long hair and loose clothes of the androgynous 60s were replaced by the tight jeans, clipped moustaches, and buffed bodies of the clone era, and everyone, it seemed, had to march in step -- we all had to look alike, think alike, and have sex the same way: anally.

When AIDS hit, paradoxically, the community didn't turn away from anal, but actually rallied behind it, as part of an effort to defend the rights of people with AIDS who'd been infected through anal sex long before anyone knew what HIV was.

And although at first safer sex educators talked about non-anal alternatives, over time they began concentrating on getting guys to use condoms, since, after all, most HIV transmission among gay men was through anal sex.

So by the late 90s, even as straight society in Europe and North America became significantly more tolerant of LGBT people, gay men had actually become intolerant of the sexual differences within their own community.

Yet, despite all the emphasis on anal sex in gay male life - from porn to Queer as Folk to articles in major newspapers like the NY Times - there are large groups of gay and bi men who don't have anal sex.

One such group are men into a type of non-penetrative sex often called frottage, or "frot."

Though there are variations, frot is most often phallus-to-phallus sex that's done face-to-face and heart-to-heart as well.

Frot is full-body and very sensual, and unlike anal, partners aren't divided into tops and bottoms.

Men into frot usually discover it when they're young, and frot remains a lifelong passion.

And though some may do oral sex, most have no interest in anal - for them, anal sex, far from being an aid to intimacy, is a barrier and a turn-off.

Unfortunately, because cultural messages equating anal with gay are so ubiquitous and strong, men into frot are frequently and almost obsessively derided and denigrated by men into anal, asked when they're going to grow up, told it's time to move on, and generally pressured and even coerced by guys who want them to have anal sex.

Sometimes they're even raped.

Faced with such unrelenting pressure, most feel they don't have a home among gay men: some become celibate, some go back into the closet, and some participate in anal - going along to get along, but not enjoying it.

Recently, however, men into frot have begun to organize using the internet, and there are now a number of clubs on the net where men into frot can connect in cyberspace.

I'm the webmaster of one of those clubs, which has two sites, one on MSN, and the other called

We call our second site Heroic Homosex to honor all those guys who've resisted the enormous peer pressures to have anal sex instead of the sort of sex they love; and because we've discovered that in addition to frot, we share certain values: we love the passion and equality of frot, we're at home with our masculinity, and we cherish loyalty to the man we love.

And not only do we not do anal sex, but we don't hesitate to tell men into anal that we're angry about the constant pressure to do anal, and that we think there are significant problems with anal besides: that there's far too much promiscuity and drug use associated with anal, that too often one partner is effeminized, and that it's a vector for disease.

For although no form of sex is 100% safe, frot carries far less risk than anal - you can't get HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, gonorrhea, or intestinal parasites from frot.

So though we don't want to force men who like anal to give it up, we think it's time the idea that "if it's not anal, it's not really gay," was laid to rest.

And, in general, we want to see more equitable and realistic assessments of pleasure and risk about sex among men who have sex with men.

If you're not into anal, want to connect with other men like yourself, or just want to know more about us, ck us out. We're at Our site is free, there are no ads, and on it you'll find first-person, true-life accounts about being into frot from close to a hundred guys like yourself.

Bill Weintraub


Please note that "Is Gay Sex Trying Too Hard to be Straight?" is the third article of a trilogy on gay male sexual mores. The other two are

Part 2: Do Gay Men Have to be Promiscuous?; and

Part 3: Risk Reduction or Cultural Change?

Parts 1 and 2 were published; Part 3 has not been.

is presented by The Man2Man Alliance, an organization of men into Frot

Click here to read An Introduction to Frot and The Man2Man Alliance.

Click here to understand more about Heroic Homosex.

Or visit our FAQs page to learn more about Frot Men.

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