In past times, heterosexual men of high social class, strongly frustrated in their heterosexual sexuality because of arranged marriages, were led to find an outlet for their sexuality in sexual adventures with prostitutes, or in true ancillary loves, socially denied but substantially tolerated because apparently they didn’t undermine the institution of marriage.
The heterosexuality of young people of high social rank was often frustrated by marriages in which the wife was objectively socially superior to her husband, who ended up orbiting her family and depending on her income and property. Basically a heterosexual man could feel himself as an object bought from his wife’s family. The tendency to escape from the grip of marriage was sometimes noticeable but there were certainly inhibitory restraints represented by religion and the feelings of guilt in sexual matters inspired by the religion itself, as well as by the fact that the crisis of a marriage could weigh negatively on the family budgets of the husband. Clearly, in these situations, the breakup of marriage, seen objectively as a real trap, in which one had entered in total inexperience and on the basis of family pressures, could find a tolerable alternative in having a lover.
Looking for a lover, also of a high social level, would have led to the possibility of recreating relationships of dependence substantially similar to those already tried in the marriage and moreover the bonds would have been difficult to dissimulate due to the fact that wife and lover were from the same environment, it would be much easier to find a lover of low social level, whose loyalty would have been guaranteed by his own need for money, here too the logic of “buying the love” returns, but it is not brutal prostitution but something much more complex in which noble feelings also intervened, such as the tendency to protect the poor girl and to emancipate her from the risks of true prostitution, far more brutal.
Love stories of this kind have been common at the end of the eighteenth and in the early nineteenth century and have fueled so much literature. If the heterosexual man of high society meets a poor but faithful girl who is objectively in love with him, the relationship can become stable and also very gratifying, it being understood that it could never be transformed into marriage because of the enormous difference in social level. The story of Cinderella represents, in a very ennobled form, a relationship of love between a poor girl and her noble and rich lover. It should be emphasized that the relationships of hetero men with their lovers also had a not negligible component of power, the difference of social class played a fundamental role and was the basis of a completely dissymmetrical relationship: the girl was totally dependent on lover not only on an economic level but also on a cultural level, she was generally illiterate, while her lover was a man who had received a refined education and frequented high society circles. At the time, the condition of women of low social level, was of clear subordination and, in general, a poor girl who was aware of being courted by a wealthy gentleman, was very careful not to claim an impossible parity. On this basis the relationships between a rich heterosexual man and his lover could last for years and be basically gratifying for both.
It also happened that sometimes the escapes from marriage towards loves with other women of low social class were far from gratifying for the girl’s venality, for her infidelity and, more rarely, for her reluctance to accept a relationship that however would have left her in a state of submission. In such situations, a rich heterosexual man ended up mixing a resentment towards his wife with a more general resentment towards the female universe, perceived as dominant and venal at all levels and felt himself for a verse dominated by his wife and for the another conditioned and almost blackmailed by the lover. In these cases, and not infrequently, it happened that rich heterosexual men developed important sympathies not towards girls but towards guys of lower social status: grooms, servants, but also peasants and economically independent workers.
Homosexual prostitution existed even then, but it was much more limited than heterosexual one; “heterosexual” men who fled from the female world, in general, didn’t turn to male prostitution but tended to build stable relationships with some guys, similar to those that, under more favorable conditions, would have built with poor girls. The risks for the partner of the highest social level, in this type of relationship, consisted essentially in the possibility of blackmail from the partner of the lower social level, while the risks for the partner of the lower social level consisted in the possibility of being faced with a vulgar prostitution relationship disguised as a long-term loving relationship.
In the “Maurice” of Forster, the wealthy bourgeois Maurice tends to show his deep respect for the gamekeeper Scudder, not only never remarks the social difference that separates him from Scudder, as would a rich heterosexual guy looking for a hetero-gay relationship but he tends to build up its relationship with Scudder from the first moment on a level of genuine equality, which is a sign of a true gay-gay relationship. Maurice, however, initially expresses the same fears of blackmail that would have a rich heterosexual bourgeois in search of a hetero-gay relationship. To make Scudder understand that he was in love with him as a true gay, Maurice must show Scudder his deep emotional interest, beyond the merely sexual interest. When Maurice fears that Scudder is about to emigrate, he doesn’t limit himself to saying goodbye, giving him some money and that’s it, as a rich bourgeois implied in a hetero-gay relationship would have done, convinced that once Scudder had left, it would not have been difficult to find a substitute; Maurice is genuinely upset by the idea of losing Scudder, which in his eyes is not replaceable, and looks for him anxiously, until he finds him again so as not to leave him anymore.
I emphasize one fundamental thing: from the point of view of the rich heterosexual man who builds an extra-matrimonial relationship, a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual one are very different things, in a heterosexual relationship heterosexual man finds a gratification that can be very deep, accompanied by a sense of total freedom and emotional and sexual reciprocity, in other words, a heterosexual man can fall in love with the poor girl, while nothing similar can happen in a story with a guy, who would always be seen as the “substitute for a woman” not worthy to particular attention. Having clarified the point of view of the rich hetero man in the hetero-gay relationship, we try to understand who the guys were to whom these men addressed. First of all, they were not male prostitutes able to go indifferently for money with both men and women, they were, in most cases, homosexual guys, i.e. guys who fell in love both sexually and emotionally with guys or men and who dreamed of a stable relationship.
I emphasize that in the lower social environments, male prostitution was somehow accepted and justified on the basis of an economic necessity, while homosexuality was in fact tacitly tolerated but was not socially accepted. The cohabitation of two men was a fact deemed unacceptable, precisely because homosexuality was never considered as a normal and possible condition of life. In such circumstances, homosexual guys were extremely sensitive to any signal, coming from other guys, that had let some element of homosexuality shine through.
The manifetations of availability shown by some men of high social class, tired of their marriage and of the female world in general, made gay guys of lower social class believe that finally they had found another homosexual guy in love with them, and in this way gay guys were urged to show in turn availability.
It is in this climate that the so-called hetero-gay relations developed, on the one hand a rich heterosexual in a moment of rebellion towards the female world, who sought the “substitute of a girl” to vent its sexuality and exercise its sense of domination , and on the other a poor gay guy who dreamed of finding another gay guy with whom to create a stable relationship. These relationships, the so-called hetero-gay relationships, were totally modeled on hetero sexuality and considered the virile role as an exclusive prerogative of the dominant male, i.e. to the hetero male. By virile role we mean the role of one who is active in anal penetration and lends one’s own sex to the others attentions in the oral intercourse. Obviously, the gays were assigned the complementary female roles.
Hetero-gay relationships have been a frequent reality until the 1960s of the twentieth century and beyond. In hetero-gay relationships, roles are fixed: hetero male is active and gay is passive. But I add another observation, in this conception of sexuality sexual intercourse is aimed at anal penetration that appears as the most important and conclusive element of the intercourse, the rest is only seen as a preparation. It is precisely for this reason that, even today, it is used to speak of “complete homosexual intercourse” to indicate a relationship that also includes anal penetration, but it is a way of saying derived from the hetero world. Normally as we have seen, the dominant male in a hetero-gay relationship was not only dominant from the sexual point of view but also from the social point of view, what underlined the radical dissymmetry of the relationship, often experienced by both parties as a domain/submission relationship. These aspects of power legitimated even more in the eyes of heterosexual dominating males sexual relationships with a gay guy.
It should be kept in mind that when heterosexual high-class males married exclusively for patrimonial and caste reasons with women not chosen by them and lived a frustrating marriage sexuality, relationships with prostitutes allowed them to forget their frustrations and to vent their desire of power and domination, sometimes more than of sex. The sense of superiority and power manifested itself as well as through particular sexual practices, through money. Leaving money on the bedside table “pour vos beaux yeux!”, as it was usual to say, was a very strong way of marking social difference and therefore of avoiding to get truly involved with the partner. Mechanisms of the same kind are also found in hetero-gay relationships in which normally the dominant male compensated the gay for his passive role with money or other gifts, thus remarking the role of subordination of the gay.
Hetero-gay relationships and feminization of the gay
Hetero-gay relationships, as lived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, precisely because in them the gay appeared to the dominant hetero male as the “substitute of a woman”, induced the gay guy too, who in all probability would have preferred an equal relationship, to take on a more markedly feminine role, repressing his instincts that would have led him to claim parity at least on the sexual level. The interest of hetero for the penis of the gay was normally non-existent and the idea that the gay could experience a form of pleasure not reducible to the passive role was not taken into consideration at all, ejaculation was the prerogative only of the hetero partner, the gay one had to limit himself to reach orgasm through masturbation, but separately and out of sight of his partner, who didn’t like having to remember that he had had a sexual intercourse with a guy and not with a girl.
For this reason the male characteristics of the gay guy had to be minimized or had to disappear, gay guys were encouraged not to cut their hair and to dress in vaguely feminine, to use perfumes or feminine underwear, but were also asked to hide their penis between the thighs so as not to show it to the partner and to shave the pubis; in the intimacy the gay guy was called with female nicknames analogous to those that would be used for a prostitute. The gay guy ended up convincing himself that in order not to lose his mate it was essential to please him as much as possible and was urged, for this, to assume languid attitudes, to hide his desires and, in essence, to “consciously act” a female role.
The seduction in the hetero-gay relationship
To get a concrete idea of the techniques of seduction through which a wealthy heterosexual man was able to obtain the availability of a gay guy of low social status, we can refer to the ways of doing Oscar Wilde. I don’t aim in the slightest to face the question concerning the homosexuality of Wilde, who was married anyway and had children, his relationships with the guys, however, have several characteristics of the classic hetero-gay relationships.
As it turned out during the trial, Wilde had an intimate friendship with a certain Wood, an eighteen-year-old master singer, whom Wilde invited to dinner and to whom he lent money, had a connection with a young shop assistant to whom he donated 200 francs, a huge amount of money, he payed tailor’s clothes for a young wanderer, a certain Alphonse Conwell, and stayed with him one night in Brighton. Wilde was a friend of a certain Taylor, a getter of guys, known to the police, had cohabited in Paris with the young Atkins, had dined in a luxury hotel with the domestic Scott and had given him as a present a silver cigarette case. The list could go on, I limit myself to referring to “Gay and History”, Gay Project Library: “The Oscar Wilde Trial”, in which the reader can find many useful details to illustrate the situation.
It could be argued, and not without reason, that Wilde’s homosexual stories are much closer to simple prostitution affairs than to the classic hetero-gay relationships and that the only truly important story of Wilde was that with Lord Alfred Douglas, that cannot certainly be interpreted in the light of the hetero-gay model, because of the social rank of Douglas, certainly not inferior to that of Wilde, but the reference to Wilde serves at least to get an idea of the means of seduction typical of hetero-gay relationships, where lacked the fee in money for the sexual performance, typical of prostitution, and everything was based on the fact that the young man who accompanies Wilde could taste the life of high society, from which otherwise he would have been completely excluded. The trips on luxury trains, the dinners in important hotels, and the entrances in exclusive environments were the real instruments of seduction of this type of relationship. In the case of Wilde they were relationships without any affective component, with the only exception, perhaps, of Alfred Douglas, and they were too numerous and superficial to have a minimum of continuity.
Raffalovich in the Annals of Unisexuality repeatedly and strongly accuses John Addigton Symonds of having used his prestige and his money to seduce some young people but from reading the diaries of Symonds things appear far from such hypothesis . Symonds, although he was also married, like Wilde, and had two daughters, was nevertheless deeply homosexual, he certainly suffered the charm of the guys of the popular classes, not only gay but also heterosexual, but he built relationships with them trending to equality, what is typical of gays, he didn’t deny the male identity of those boys, who was indeed the first cause of his interest and didn’t even deny their heterosexuality, when they were heterosexual, and especially really fell in love with them, wrote poignant poems for them and built with them friendships destined to last. With all due respect to Raffalovich, Symonds’ love stories were classic stories of gay falling in love, not always directed towards gay guys and with a very strong affective component.
Evolution of hetero-gay relationships
Hetero-gay relationships, as we have reconstructed them, represent a reality that is now outdated. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for a heterosexual frustrated in his heterosexual relationships, it was certainly not easy to find a gay guy available, and when this happened, the relationship had, for this reason, its intrinsic stability. Wilde’s case is not significant because his behavior was strongly eccentric and not aligned with the behavior of the average married man in search of guys.
With the post-1968 sexual liberation and especially with the arrival of the Internet, the situation has rapidly changed and the absence of strong emotional relationships, combined with the ease of finding available partners has led to the substantial instability of hetero-gay relationships, which however have not slipped into prostitution, because most of the relationships built via the internet don’t involve donations of money, the means of seduction typical of the hetero-gay relationships have remained the same, because the offer to cruise together or spend a week in a luxury hotel abroad is generally not intended as a fee for sexual services.
In essence, long-term hetero-gay relationships have become a rarity and the ease of partner change now dominates the scene. To give some examples of the evolution of hetero-gay relationships, which involve married men, in the 21st century, I will refer to an interesting article in “LGBTQ Nation” of March 20, 2016, entitled “Straight men discussing their secret sexual relationships with other men “. The article presents three interviews with heterosexual-bisexuals obtained under guarantee of anonymity. I report those interviews below. I state, however, that, as it is obvious from the context, the terms heterosexual and bisexual are used with slightly different meanings from those adopted by Gay Project.
Rob (not his real name) is 46-years-old. He lives in San Jose, CA and has been married to his wife for 12 years. He identifies as “straight with bisexual tendencies” and has been hooking up with other guys on the down low since he was 19.
“Hooking up with other men, to me, is a non-complicated way of releasing sexual steam,” he explains. “It’s simply a physical release with no pressure.”
Rob prefers getting together with other married men in secret, as opposed to single or openly gay men. He finds most of the guys on dating sites.
“I seek out other married men for the simple fact that they are in the same boat as me, and hopefully can relate to what I am looking for,” he says. “I do not want to jeopardize my marriage. Another married man can understand that. Other married men are not willing to take as many risks.”
The primary risk being, Rob says, “getting strong emotions or falling in love. I wouldn’t want to become the object of another man’s desire. I do find some men attractive, but for me it’s just sexual. I don’t feel attracted to men in a loving way at all.”
Currently, there are two guys Rob sees on a regular basis.
“One is divorced, the other is a widower and semi-retired,” he explains. “They both live alone, and are therefore able to host our get together.” But, he is careful to add, “there is no love involved.”
“My wife is not aware,” Rob admits. “I don’t feel guilty doing what I do. However, I would feel bad if she found out. She would be very upset and consider it cheating. It concerns me very much, since I do not want a divorce.”
Tony (not his real name) is 32-years-old. A divorcee, he lives in New York City and just recently began identifying as bisexual, though he’s only out to a small handful of people. He has a casual girlfriend as well as a few regular “buddies” who he will occasionally meet for sex.
“The first time I messed around with a guy I was 21,” he says. “He was an older married guy who I met on a gay website. My challenge is that New York City is a very feminine gay city, and that’s not my type. I’m only into guys who are DL, not being noticed as gay. [DL = Down-low an African American slang term that typically refers to a subculture of black men who usually identify as heterosexual, but who have sex with men; some avoid sharing this information even if they have female sexual partner(s) married or single.] That’s my protocol. When I find someone who’s a match I keep him as a regular.”
Tony says he meets most of his hookups on dating apps or on dating sites, and he will often develop close friendships with them afterwards. He says he’s not “paranoid” about people knowing what he does, but he’s still not 100 percent comfortable with it either.
“I would be afraid of telling someone I had a relationship with a man,” he admits, adding that maybe someday he’ll feel differently. Until then, however, “I need to make sure the guy meets my criteria.”
“My ex-wife didn’t know what I did,” Tony says. “The women I’ve dated lately, though, know. They know how I am and still think I’m interesting and attractive regardless. At this point of my life, I don’t feel like living in lies anymore.”
Andrew (not his real name) is 33-years-old and lives near New Orleans, LA. He identifies as totally straight and has been married to his wife since he was 21. He had his first gay experience about ten years ago.
“I had been married for two years and was feeling that I wanted to try something different,” he says. “I’ve messed around with about a dozen guys since then. It isn’t often, usually when it feels like my marriage is in a slump or getting boring. It actually invigorates me.”
Like both Rob and Tony, he finds most of the guys he hooks up with online and tends to gravitate towards others who are on the down low.
“I prefer men on the DL,” Andrew explains. “I find I have more in common and it is easier to make a connection.”
“If my wife found out she would leave me,” Andrew says. “She is very traditional and religious and does not believe in homosexuality. I love her and wish that we could have some sort of open relationship, but she would never go for it.”
He continues: “Hooking up with other guys is not something that I am proud of. I wish that I didn’t have the urge or want to do it, but there is something about being with another guy that reignites me. After being with another guy I find that I am more loving and happy at home. It adds life to me.”
Sexual behavior and perception of sexual Orientation
Jane Ward is an Associate Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as the LGBIT Studies Program Chair, at the University of California, Riverside. She is also the author of the bestselling book Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men.
“We can learn a lot about sexual fluidity and diversity from men on the down low,” Ward tells Queerty. “Some men on the DL identify as bisexual but are not public about their sex with men. Others are completely straight-identified and view their sex with men as an erotic hobby, so to speak. For them, it’s an occasional means of getting off, but it’s not something that feels significant enough to influence how they understand their sexual orientation.”
Ward continues: “The point here is that people can engage in the same sexual activity but make meaning of it in very different ways. It’s that process of making meaning that is what ultimately matters when it comes to people’s sexual identifications. Unlike animals, humans have the capacity to reflect on our sex practices and what they mean about who we are and who we want to be.”
I totally agree with Jane Ward.
Another significant example of the value of subjective judgment on behaviors, beyond their objectivity, can be found in the analysis of the relationship between gay sex and sexual play, in the chapter dedicated to gay sexuality.
Let’s stop now to analyze the three interviews. Married men (or who have been married and still have female partners) have sexual relationships with other men. The common element is the lack of awareness of wives or female companions, with the exception of Andrew, who says he no longer wants to live in lies. In all three cases, the interviewees don’t consider the homosexual relationship as an alternative to the marriage, which they don’t want to undermine, but only as a sexual diversion, perhaps fostered by friendship with married people who “are in the same boat”, or even as an incentive to rekindle heterosexual interest when this tends to weaken. It clearly emerges that the married life of these men is not gratifying, that the dialogue with the wives doesn’t exist, but that despite all the hetero relationship has its stability mainly due to the social environment, as can be deduced from the fact that these men tend to keep secret their homosexual acquaintances and to maintain a formal matrimonial relationship even when the couple lacks communication on fundamental aspects of sexuality.
It is clear that these men are interested in maintaining the marriage and preserve heterosexuality, they tend to stress that they don’t want in any way to become the object of sexual desire of other men and that they don’t consider their sexual encounters with other men as encounters of love, and they even consider the hypothesis of falling in love with a man as the greatest risk of their homosexual relationships, a risk that must be avoided carefully.
These men, despite their homosexual relationships, don’t perceive themselves at all as gays, rather they tend not to create relationships with gay singles or with declared gays but to stay with other married men; they admit at most a bisexual tendency, but only on a sexual level. In the chapter on gay sexuality we will talk extensively of curious heterosexuals, a category in which married men who perceive themselves as hetero and have homosexual relationships can be included. As we will see, this is a very large group.
Birth of pornography
It is commonly believed that pornography has always existed and has always been widely used, as happens today, but things are completely different.
At the end of the XIX century, Wilhelm von Gloeden, realized in Taormina (Sicily) a huge amount of photos, considered by many to be pornographic photos, They were actually nude photos, almost always male nude, even if there are female nudes, but there were also landscapes , photos of shepherds and farmers. The male nude was always represented in a Greek mythological frame and there is no picture of von Gloeden representing sexual intercourses or situations strongly connoted in the sexual sense. The photos of von Gloeden were certainly sought by homosexuals, but they were rare and precious material, always spread through very reserved channels.
Famous were also the male nude photos made in Rome by Wilhelm von Plüschow, also distributed confidentially among high-level homosexuals, as evidenced by a fragment of a letter by John Addington Symonds to Charles Edward Sayle:
“If you care for extremely artistic studies from the nude, done mostly in the open air, go & see my friend G. Plüschow 34 Via Sardegna. He has made an immense collection which he will be delighted to show you. Very truly yours. J A Symonds]” [Letter 1969 – John Addington Symonds, Letters, Wayne State University Press, 1969, vol. III. ]
Calling pornography the photos of Gloeden or Plüschow is obviously an exaggeration and in any case the spread of those photos was minimal. In the past, until the early ’70s of the XX century, the spread of pornographic photos, hetero or gay, was considered an outrage to modesty and was prosecuted by law, the photos were expensive and absolutely not easy to find, and were directed especially to bourgeois heterosexuals who lived, at the level of transgression, hetero-gay relationships with gay guys of popular extraction. In a reality of this kind, the so-called gay pornography was in fact addressed to heterosexual males and tended to emphasize the patterns of sexual behavior of the hetero-gay relationship. So, until the beginning of the ’70s the typical hetero-gay model was credited as the model of the homosexual relationship. That model, the only one sponsored by clandestine pornography and for this the only “official” one, ended up affirming itself and being considered by the gays themselves as their model of sexual behavior.
Since the late 60s of the 20th century, with the sexual liberation of ’68, gays began to have a minimum of visibility and, in some cases at least, as in university collectives, they had the opportunity to know and recognize each other, what was before completely impossible. Starting from the early 1970s gays began to abandon the old hetero-gay model of relationships, in which they were inevitably destined for the passive role, to finally live gay-gay relationships.
Up until the beginning of the ‘70s, many gay men lived unidirectional love relationships, often not even declared, towards straight guys who considered them exclusively friends, obviously without sexual contacts. For many gay guys, sexual relationships, I mean the ones exclusively sexual, continued to be dominated by hetero-gay model. In a first phase, currently not completely ended, the hetero-gay model, imposed by pornography, has continued to dominate the scene by importing the active-passive binomial in the gay-gay relationship. In this case, however, also the active role was played by a gay.
It should be remembered that until the beginning of the 1970s, there were no publications aimed at gays nor existed gay pornography. The first homosexual magazine in Italy, “Fuori!”, Appeared in 1971, and the circulation of homosexual magazines was however very low because the diffusion in bookstores or on newsstands discouraged buyers.
To understand how and when pornography, in Italy, comes to large distribution, it must be borne in mind that the magazine “Le Ore”, founded in 1953 as a magazine of cinema current affairs, distributed until 1967, from 1971 became a soft erotic magazine, with male genital organs covered and without explicit photos of sexual intercourses.
During the ’70s the Italian legislation on public morality became much more elastic and in 1977 “Le Ore” became a hard magazine. From the early 1980s, porn magazines have been be gradually supplanted by videotapes. The first gay porn magazine, “Gay Italy”, began publishing in 1983. “Babilonia” the most known Italian gay monthly magazine, with nude photos but never in bad taste, and with articles of interest for gays, began the publications in 1982 and continued until 2009.
In gay-gay relationships began to appear a novelty that marked a strong difference compared to the hetero-gay relationship: in the gay-gay relationship, although the categories of active and passive still existed, the roles were not fixed, or at least were not rigid, even if the anal penetration continued to be considered the true purpose of the relationship.
In recent years, the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, after the advent of the internet, for many gays the opportunity to come into contact with other gays has become a reality and this has encouraged a dialogue and a comparison among gays and has slowly but inexorably eroded the solidity of the gay sexuality model inherited from the old hetero-gay model. Chat interviews with gay guys of different ages suggest that, as we move towards younger age groups, gay-gay sexuality is understood and lived in a way less and less tied to old models. I would like to add another observation: sexuality on the hetero-gay model resists especially among guys who have been strongly influenced by pornography and who have not had the opportunity to compare their sexuality with that of other gay guys, while for the guys who have had a sex education freer and have been able to talk about their sexuality with other guys, the real sex life is in fact almost totally detached from the hetero-gay model and is tending towards a gay-gay model of sexuality based on the principle of equality.
I will now try to outline how young gays mean sexuality, let’s say gays under 30. For a gay, anal penetration is absolutely the sexual behavior most at risk for the transmission of HIV. This fact, associated with reasons of general hygienic character, pushes the younger gays not to consider the anal penetration a desirable sexual behavior. I note, incidentally, that in the masturbation fantasies of all the gay guys there is the idea of masturbating the partner and of performing oral sex on him or getting oral sex performed by him, while the fantasies regarding anal penetration are decidedly less common. The sexuality of younger gay guys (I am talking above all about undeclared guys and less tied to the world of gay clubs) tends therefore to be a sexuality that ignores anal penetration, which is often perceived as a reality imported from the hetero world and not spontaneously gay. In cases where penetration is practiced, the roles are not fixed or are not fixed in an absolute way, this is a sign, despite the permanence of penetration, of a parity or a trend towards parity within the couple.
Having said that, and with all the reservations of the case, I try to clarify the sense of equality within a gay-gay relationship.
A heterosexual couple is characterized by the complementarity of sexual roles that are anatomically and biologically defined, they are roles that substantially characterize that type of relationship. Heterosexuality means to love the different from oneself. A gay couple is characterized by the identity of the roles of the two partners. A gay guy falls in love with another guy, not because he considers him a substitute for a woman, but because he is a guy, that is, for his male identity.
The interest of a gay guy towards the penis of his partner is particularly strong and the sense of identity and almost personal fusion that is felt in sexual contact is linked to the fact that each of them knows perfectly the physiological responses of the other, because they are two guys.
Given these premises it is easy to understand that a relationship based on the concept of equality tends to be incompatible with the assumption of sexual roles and is absolutely incompatible with the assumption of fixed sexual roles. The sexuality of young gay couples tends to no longer be an imitation of pornography but to be realized through diluted sexual behaviors consisting of different elements mainly related to physical intimacy not immediately sexual and so-called cuddles:
1) Habit to mutual nudity, being naked together, hugging naked with naked and holding each other for several minutes.
2) To caress, kiss, exchange tenderness.
3) To touch each other intimately, without immediate sexual goals.
4) To postpone the phase of the orgasm.
5) To talk a lot while hugging the partner.
6) To prolong the cuddling also in the post-orgasmic phase, falling asleep one in the arms of the other.
As we easily understand, this gay-gay model of sexuality has now nothing to do with models inherited from pornography. In part, the most recent pornography is trying to adapt to the new emerging sexuality models, which however are not compatible with the classic standards of porn movies. Despite these attempts at adaptation, pornography in the classic sense of the term is slowly losing ground among gays to the full advantage of the spontaneity of sexual behavior.
I realize that the description I gave of the couple sexuality of young gay couples, in particular formed by undeclared guys, may appear dogmatic and pretentious. Talking about a “principle of equality” in gay couple sexuality might seem like an attempt to surreptitiously introducing rules that are completely meaningless. I have been reminded several times that in couple relationships everything can happen and depends on what you want and on the people you know, in this sense, the more you get rid of categories and schemes the closer you are to reality. On this I can only agree, but I must stress that the “principle of equality” is not an invention of the one who wrote these pages but is the summary of what has emerged from hundreds of mails and hundreds of hours of interview in the course of several years. Obviously, the results certainly have a value limited to what is found by the observation point of Gay Project and are not necessarily generalizable, but they have nevertheless a very serious objective basis.