Eric Marcus

"How Do Gay People Have Sex?"

Filed By Eric Marcus | August 03, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bronwen pardes, gay sex, sexuality, what if someone I know is gay

Few things make me as anxious as getting an e-mail from kid or young teen asking specific questions about sex. Usually the questions aren't direct. The first e-mail typically reads: "Can I ask you a personal question?" "Personal" almost always means "sexual."

Kids have the right to honest answers about sex, but I'd be crazy to be the one to provide those answers in an e-mail, especially when I have no idea whether the person writing to me is an eleven-year-old boy in Milwaukee or an FBI agent in Manhattan. (Paranoid? You bet!)

In general I don't answer e-mailed questions about sex. Sometimes I've responded in brief with my views about how young is too young to have a sexual relationship. And on occasion I've provided links to web sites for teens that include information about the importance of responsible and safe sexual behavior. But it's not like I haven't written about sex.

I wrote a whole chapter on the subject in my book for teens What If Someone I Know is Gay? So for all those teens who have written to me with their questions and weren't happy with my less-than-forthcoming response, here's the question about sex that I'm asked most frequently and the answer from my book.

How do gay and lesbian people have sex? What do they do?

This is often the question that many young people (and adults, too!) are most curious to have answered. One twelve-year-old girl recently e-mailed me asking if gay people try to have sex. I thought for a moment about what she was asking and realized that given what she knew from her fourth grade sexual reproduction class, sex between two men or two women just didn't seem to make sense. Without a penis and vagina, she wondered, how could gay and lesbian couples have sex? Well, if you think of sex only as penis-in-vagina sexual intercourse, then gay and lesbian couples don't have sex. However, this is not the only way to define sex.

There are many things that gay and lesbian couples do to give each other sexual pleasure. Depending upon what the couple likes to do and what makes them feel good, they may choose to: kiss and cuddle, caress each other's body, touch each other's genitals, and engage in oral or anal sex. Female couples may use a dildo--an object that's shaped like a penis--to penetrate each other, or they may touch each other's genitals with their hands and mouths.

Of course, there are important responsibilities for people to consider even before they begin a sexual relationship. Caring and responsible people take steps to reduce the risk of getting or passing along HIV or another sexually transmitted disease (more on that later in this chapter). And if the couple includes a man and a woman, it's extremely important to know about birth control and to do what's necessary to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.


For teens--both straight and gay--who are looking for far more information about sex and sexuality than the above, I highly recommend Doing It Right by Bronwen Pardes.

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A thought experiment
the strategy of "Let's get tested TOGETHER BEFORE we have sex, for A VARIETY of STDs." A sexual health checkup reduces ambiguity and can be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners might do together.

A thought experiment
the strategy of "Let's get tested TOGETHER BEFORE we have sex, for A VARIETY of STDs." A sexual health checkup reduces ambiguity and can be like anything else POTENTIAL sex partners might do together.

Isn't it odd how you have to couch responses to teenagers looking for basic instruction and information so the FBI doesn't arrest you, but sending kids out to have sex without adequate information to protect themselves is perfectly fine?

I hate those questions when I get 'em on the youth sites that I work with and I just send them to sites for teens and to books. I also generally warn them to never do anything that they are uncomfortable with and never let anyone force then into anything. Luckily I tend to get the relationship questions and the how do "I know if someone likes me" questions and I rarely get questions about that subject from kids. The people who I do get it from oddly enough is from parents when I work with them on understanding their LGBT kids. The only two kids that I ever explained anything to was my own gay son during our father so talk and one teenager with his mom there simply because he had questions she couldn't answer. And yes it bothers me that we are almost stalked by the cops at times if we work with kids and are not straight.

one of my favorite parts of being queer is that sex ISNT so rigidly defined. you can just do what makes you and your partner feel good without having to fret about what you SHOULD be doing and when. so i really resist any attempts at answering those kinds of questions or trying to define queer sex.

do gay people have sex by the muscel within the posterier?