Dr. Joe Kort, Ph.D., explains why people are so afraid of male sexual fluidity.

Dr. Joe Kort is a cis gay clinical social worker, a controversial writer for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, the author of Is My Husband Gay, Straight, or Bi?, and a bona fide expert on male sexual fluidity.

We sat down with him to discuss why — even as our culture begins to embrace sexual and gender fluidity — one group remains notably overlooked: sexually fluid straight men.

But First, What Does Male Sexual Fluidity Look Like?

Male sexual fluidity refers to the ability for a straight man to be attracted to gay sex. As Dr. Kort says, “the anus doesn’t have a sexual orientation.”

Sexually fluid straight men differ from bisexual men in that they’re interested in the act of sex with another man, but are not attracted to men in general. They have no desire to be connected with gay culture and are not romantically or emotionally interested in male partners. These men are both romantically and sexually interested in women only, however, they find themselves erotically moved by the idea, or sometimes the practice of, seeking out other men with whom to have sex.

For some, this can simply mean asking a female partner to wear a strap-on in order to receive anal sex. For others, this interest can manifest in wanting to engage in sex with another man.

Read More: Is Polyamory Right For You? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions. 

“Am I Normal?” Why Society is Afraid Of Male Sexual Fluidity

Throughout his career, Dr. Kort has encountered three primary reactions from patients and their peers when it comes to non-romantic interest in gay sex:

1. Bro, That’s So Gay.

“Male sexual fluidity is discouraged from the time that boys enter Kindergarten,” says Dr. Kort. They’re taught not to touch each other, to follow up amorous sentiments with a caveat, to mask or de-legitimize male attachment with humor, and to suppress feelings of affection or dependence. Dr. Kort points out that for two straight men to have a close relationship, they have to come up with a cutesie, non-threatening name for it: “bromance.”

But, Dr. Kort notes, “It’s not necessarily a gay thing, it’s just a guy thing. And while there’s certainly no problem if indeed it is a gay thing, it can simply be a sexual release that’s not based on romantic or emotional attraction.”

2. You’re Gay!

Dr. Kort, whose articles discuss the benefits of encouraging male sexual fluidity, says he’s often “challenged really intensely and negatively by gay men who believe that I’m keeping other gay men in the closet.” Gay men have had to fight for the right to own their identities for so long, the logic goes, that the idea of a straight man with the accompanying privileges taking that identity — but only a piece of it — feels unfair.

“They’ve fought so hard to exist and say, ‘I’m here’,” explains Dr. Kort, “that it feels like I’m encouraging men to stay in the closet or take advantage of straight privilege without embracing their gay identity. But the younger generation doesn’t have to do that anymore — they’re open to all kinds of labels, combinations of labels, or the choice not to subscribe to any labels.”

3. But I Can’t Be Gay!

According to Dr. Kort, the men with the most suspicion toward male sexual fluidity are typically the men who are most curious about exploring it. “The question my patients always ask me is, ‘Am I normal?’”

According to a 2013 study, almost 80 percent of SMSMs (straight men who have sex with other men) chose not to disclose their same-sex sexual activities to others in the lives, particularly female romantic partners. Over 50 percent of participants reported that having sex with other males was too embarrassing to share with others in their lives, and 63 percent said they would lie if asked if they had engaged in same-sex sexual activity.

“We need to make room for men questioning, and we need to make room for male sexual fluidity, so that men aren’t afraid to explore this part of their identity,” says Dr. Kort.

Read More: A Doctor’s Guide to Sex Parties

How Do I Know If I’m Bi or Straight and Fluid?

For those who are questioning whether or not they are gay, Dr. Kort suggests answering four questions:

  1. Do you have memories that point to being gay or bisexual? (i.e.: “I liked looking at and fantasizing about other boys from a young age”)
  2. Are you homophobic? This often indicates suppression.
  3. The beach test: When you’re on the beach, who are you looking at and distracted by in their swimsuit?
  4. Who do you want to come home to?

A 2006 study found that one in ten straight-identifying men engage in gay sex. While it’s possible that some of these men are indeed gay men who have yet to come out, it’s just as likely that a large percentage of them identify as straight with erotic interests that exist on a spectrum.

A More Fluid Future

As the LGBTQ population continues to grow and recognize all gender identities and sexual orientations, Dr. Kort’s thesis is finally starting to resonate. “Younger people get what I’m saying,” he says. “They don’t have so many hang-ups with labels — and there’s finally a movement to open up what it means to be masculine.” It’s time for all of us — however you identify — to create room for male sexual exploration and fluidity.

Interested in learning more? Head over to Dr. Kort’s website, www.StraightGuise.com. If you’re looking for a therapist to help you explore your sexual identity, click here.

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