But who knows? When I tell people about my work, they often assume these men are joking, or that they are really closeted gays. The 40 young men I interviewed for my book would disagree. I like to think of myself as fluid. I have man crushes when a male is so cool … I like the idea of male fluidity.
We never kissed, but emotionally we kissed. These men challenge existing assumptions that a man is necessarily straight, gay, or, perhaps, bisexual, and that his sexual arousals and romantic desires are stable, categorical, and, therefore, predictable.
Is he simply fooling himself — or might he be illustrating a hidden and poorly understood dimension of male sexuality? But so far, the difference seems to be this: Mostly straight men are more attracted to women and less attracted to men than are bisexual men, suggesting that they are neither exclusively straight, nor are they bisexual.
We like male sexuality to be simplistic and straightforward, but this can only be achieved by ignoring complexity. In so doing, however, we discount insights uncovered 70 years ago, when Kinsey demonstrated that sexuality is a continuum for both sexes.
And, perhaps more critically, we negate young men who proclaim that their sexual and romantic desires and attachments are on a spectrum, not forever fixed in time or permanently housed in gay or straight identity boxes. More men than you think identify as mostly straight. When given the option to identify as mostly straight , approximately 5 to 10 percent of men do so.
This is especially true among millennials, who tend to possess greater sexual knowledge, freedom, curiosity, and exploration than earlier generations. This percentage is, by the way, higher than the percentage of men who self-identify as gay or bisexual combined. And yet these numbers are likely conservative, underrepresenting the true proportion of men who are mostly straight. Also suppressing the number of men willing to identify as mostly straight is the widespread belief in previous generations that any amount of same-sex attractions or crushes makes one at least bisexual and, likely, gay.
If a mostly straight individual drifts, the movement is usually between a straight and a mostly straight identity — almost never toward a bisexual or gay identity.
This finding challenges the widespread belief that a mostly straight man is in reality someone who is gay but is afraid to emerge from his closet. Indeed, mostly straight men tend to be exceptionally pro-gay.
Guy sex and man crushes should be considered an addition, not a subtraction. A mostly straight man exhibits patterns of sexual and romantic attraction, fantasy, and infatuation that are distinctly unique from other men, though, to be clear, he leans closer to the straight.
He has about as many female sex partners and romances as a straight man but, as you might expect, he is also more likely to have sex with another guy. His sexual behavior tends to involve genital touching, mutual masturbation, or receptive oral sex, but not anal sex. Although he might develop an intense man crush and cuddle with a best friend, he is considerably less likely to fall passionately in love or want to date this friend. There is even some physiological evidence to support this theory. My lab has found that physiological measures of sexual orientation which are relatively free of conscious control confirm the existence of mostly straight men.
These individuals had arousal patterns — penis enlargement and pupil dilation — to pornographic videos of women masturbating that were identical to those of straight men. In contrast to straight men who had almost zero arousal , they were also slightly aroused by men masturbating, though less so than were bisexual men.
Historically, the social ramifications for owning any degree of homoeroticism prompted many men to minimize or disown their same-sex desires.
However, increased tolerance for diverse sexual and gender expression among millennials has given permission to this formerly unrecognized group to embrace the breadth of their sexual and emotional lives. Already a subscriber? Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. Photo-Illustration: Photos: Getty Images. Tags: sexology science of us sex research. Most Viewed Stories. Best of The Cut. More Stories.