Are men 'sexually fluid'?
June 29th, 2012
01:37 PM ET

Are men 'sexually fluid'?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

In a new critically-acclaimed off-Broadway play, with a title too controversial for print, a gay man finds himself falling for a woman, which makes him - and his male partner - wonder whether he’s “really” gay after all.

Can a gay man who is sexually attracted to women still be gay? And what about straight men who get turned on by other men? Are men “sexually fluid”?

Female sexual fluidity - the capacity to move from romantic relationships with men to those with women, and vice versa - is well established, as I’ve previously discussed. Male sexual fluidity is less clear, yet it seems to be on the minds of many men and women. In fact, I’m often approached by women who are worried because they’ve caught their husbands or boyfriends looking at gay porn.

According to psychotherapist Joe Kort there are plenty of reasons why a straight man might be interested in gay porn—and most of them aren’t signs that he’s questioning his sexuality. Likewise, a gay guy might get turned on by straight porn, but that doesn’t make him straight.

“Many straight men are just curious about gay sex and how it works... or are turned on by gay male porn but have no desire to actually have sex with a man,” he explains.

In other cases, straight men may be just looking for an anatomy lesson.

“In our data, fewer than 2% of straight men searched for both gay porn and straight porn,” says neuroscientist Dr. Ogi Ogas, who, as coauthor of the book "A Billion Wicked Thoughts," analyzed a billion Internet searches and other sources of sexual data. “Yet straight men do search for images of penises - especially large penises - almost as often as they search for vaginas.”

So it’s possible that these men aren’t necessarily interested in sex with other men, but are simply comparing their own anatomy to that of other guys.

A man could also be looking for new fantasies: If he’s a heavy porn user, a straight man may peruse gay porn as his ability to become aroused by straight porn ebbs and his tolerance to sexual imagery increases. Some guys say they surf porn the way they surf TV channels, and what they stop on depends on their mood or the interest level of the content itself.

It’s this tendency to focus on sex acts themselves, rather than gender, that partly helps explain male sexual fluidity, says Kort.

“Straight men may go to Craigslist and get turned on by the descriptions of sexual acts with other men, but aren’t actually turned on by the men themselves,” he explains. “This is what separates ‘mostly’ straight men from gay men.”

One thing is clear, though: Society is a lot less accepting of male sexual fluidity.

Elisabeth Loyd, an affiliated faculty scholar at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction reports that many men themselves say they find their potential for sexual fluidity “very threatening.” And Kort tells me that he’s been criticized by some in the gay community for his view on male sexual fluidity because the concept of sexual fluidity implies that sexual orientation may be more a matter of choice than genetics.

Sadly, it seems that women are freer to explore sexual fluidity - either in fantasy or reality.

“Women have more permission to be sexually fluid, or even to just be physically loving and affectionate with female friends,” says Kort. “Men do not have these permissions without being labeled as forever ‘gay’.”

Indeed, we seem to feel the need to force men to define their sexuality as “gay” or “straight”. The results of a recent study in the journal Biological Psychology may help change that. The study demonstrated that some men who say they’re “bisexual” actually do get aroused by both men and women - a big change from an earlier study found no proof that male bisexuality exists.

And some research suggests that acceptance of both male and female sexual fluidity may increase with younger generations: According to Cornell University psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams more teenagers and young adults are avoiding such labels as “gay,” “lesbian” or “bisexual” altogether or are inventing new descriptions, such as “mostly straight.”

And living life, rather than focusing on labels, is a large part of what sexual fluidity is all about.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ian Kerner.

soundoff (1,330 Responses)
  1. Nick M.

    its called being bisexual

    July 2, 2012 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Youarenotking

      EXACTLY. What is the problem just admitting this? Why do men have to be "straight" even if they are sexually attracted to men? You're Bisexual dude. Period.

      July 3, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • JulianCA

      Yeah, for sexual orientation the definitions are more clear if you talk about what you have aversion to, rather than what you're attracted to. For example, being attracted to women doesn't make you straight rather being adverse to men makes you straight. This is what causes all the confusion - "but I like girls!" doesn't mean you wouldn't entertain being with a guy.

      For example, I have a gay cousin and one time we asked him why he wasn't attracted to women. He responded with "they creep me out, they remind me of spiders and they've got eggs inside them." In other words, he had a very strong aversion to women. And straight guys have aversion to men generally - they will prefer to avoid even non-sexual contact and nudity with other men. And no, this isn't a case of "doth protest too much", it is just that in the same way a guy can have a pleasurable compulsion to look at a woman walking by, they can have an unpleasant reaction to looking at a guy.

      Anyway, I'm just saying that it is all quite a bit clearer if you categorize based on aversion:
      – aversion to same sex = straight
      – aversion to opposite sex = gay
      – no aversion to either = bisexual
      – aversion to both = asexual

      And the idea that it is a continuous scale is kinda dumb. If you don't like something, you don't like it, meaning you will avoid it unless forced to do it. Straight people and gay people aren't just opportunistic, but rather have a real preference to avoid what they don't like.

      Anyway, my point is that there is nothing wrong with being "sexually fluid", but that doesn't mean that they are straight (or gay) - they are bisexual. And not everyone has those tendencies.

      July 3, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
  2. Hugh Jass

    "Are men 'sexually fluid'?" Yes, and women have to sleep on the fluid spot. Deal with it.

    July 2, 2012 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Turban

      FUNNY. and sadly true.

      July 2, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • Butt perspiration and lady love juices

      You must be gay if you think the guy makes the wet spot.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      "if you think the guy makes the wet spot" You must be hung like a hamster if you think that.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
  3. AmLowLife

    In "the Lifestyle" (if you don't know what that is you're part of the "vanilla" world) women are expected to be bisexual and men straight. And that's the way it usually appears in their online profile or at typical Lifestyle events.
    However, there are more than a few females who don't really like to play with other females and a whole bunch of self-listed "striaght" guys who are bisexual.

    It's an amazing study in societal pressure to watch people deal with their actual needs and desires vs. what they've had drilled inot their heads as to the way they are supposed to act. Public persona is very different than when you get another couple alone in a bedroom.

    Fluidity? This is just the Kinsey Straight-to-Gay scale all over again...

    July 2, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Collared

      "The lifestyle" lol...too funny. You mean the ultra-vanilla group of married people who, when they are well into their 40s and 50s, and are fat, balding, sagging and atrocious to look at much less have s ex with, suddenly decide they are wild and k inky BD SM f reaks? Yeah, go on any "lifestyle" website and check out the profiles of these wild and crazy people. Don't forget your b arf bag...you'll need it.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • Youarenotking


      July 3, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Boy, collared, just because you can't find any partners yourself is no reason to diss other people who are having all the sex they could ever want.

      Deep breaths...the anger will subside and someday YOU will get laid too!

      August 20, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
    • brad

      I think it is much more excepting to men if a significant other lady is bi but boy if the opposite happens its automatic break up. Men are complex sexual beings with 20 times the testosterone of women. Yes I admit I think about everything possible that could give me pleasure. Does it mean I will act on everything, no.Can it mean I might be bi. Yes, maybe?.Is that so abnormal?I think not ,Some of us are in love with just the sexual act itself.

      December 2, 2012 at 06:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      All the men straight and all the women bi. Sounds incredibly BORING!
      I'll get interested when it's the other way around. Meh!

      December 12, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
  4. Bakala

    You're an idiot

    July 2, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. I hate you - haha

    mmmm pu$$y

    July 2, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GrowUp

      That's gross.

      July 2, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • michael/GrowUp sock puppet trolls

      We're going to rub your faces in it and force you to like it. Start sniffing empty tuna cans for practice until we find you.

      July 2, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Blind Man Walking Past The Fish Market

      Sniff, sniff. "Good evening, ladies."

      July 2, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
  6. Love Rhino

    Ive got your fluid right here

    July 2, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Minnie

    Yes many people know gay men will date women occasionally out of curiosity. I dated a gay man and knew it, but was smart enough to know it wasn't going anywhere and not to get too emotionally involved. Can't change their preference, they always end up with another dude. Same with a straight man who is curious, he'll end up with a woman. Although people can be bi they seem to have a strong preference.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Naama Mullen

    I am a rare breed of woman that I likes sexual fluidity in a man. I know of only one other woman like myself that finds purely straight guys boring and predicatable. My only cut off are men that would be the receptive partner. Big turn off. Fluid or bi-curious men are much more unpredicatable and open minded to sexual adventure and experimentation which I think makes them better lovers than guys whose only turn ons are T&A and lesbians. I find nothing more offensive than men who expect women to enjoin with other women when they would be unwilling to do the same for women.

    July 2, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Phina

      @ Naama I am like you to a degree. I like a guy that can at least some empathy for men's pleasure other than their own. I hadn't thought about it before but as a woman in her 30's I have always had the same type of sexual partner and thought is this all. The times that I have seen male-male sensuality I thought it would be great to experience a guy that gets women in that way. It's difficult to explain though.

      July 2, 2012 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • Hahahahahahahaha

      You two should get a room! Hahahahahahahahahaha

      July 2, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  9. Rev. Bo ner

    The best solution for a gay man is to let a dominant female do them hard and righteous with a strap-on while you yell, "I'm sorry mommy, I'll never do it again!" over and over.

    We don't mind if you like solid objects up a one-way road intended for evacuation, so long as it's a woman doing the penetration...men and women loving each other in sacred bonds of love...just the way God intended it.

    July 2, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Todd in DC

      Dude, you are seriously clueless

      July 2, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Murphy

      "The best solution for a gay man" Did it work? You still sound pretty gay, so probably not. And stop looking at my butt.

      July 2, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Califorinia Guy

      Rev. Bo ner, I laughed so hard at your post I cried. Great humor. And now I am slyly checking out Eddie Murphy's butt. I think everyone should join me and do the same. I think he wants it. I hope it's a cute butt, too.

      July 5, 2012 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      First rational person I've read in this article.

      July 23, 2012 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
  10. NorCalMojo

    I'm pretty fluid. Some days I like big boobs, some days I prefer elegant necks and a nice butt.

    I've never thought another man's anus sexually. No matter what mood I'm in, it still seems like something to avoid at all costs.

    You either think of other men sexually or you don't.

    July 2, 2012 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lola

      Don't worry, I'm sure most gay men would avoid you too at all costs.

      August 30, 2014 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
  11. Hahahahahahahaha

    Only F.A.G.S are.

    July 2, 2012 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lola

      You would know.

      August 30, 2014 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
  12. Two words best defining hom o se xu al depravity

    Luka Magnotta

    July 2, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ___

      Anderson Cooper

      July 2, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Murphy

      Stop looking at my butt, I tell you.

      July 3, 2012 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
    • Son of the South

      here is another set of two words that define that sort of depravity: CNN STINKS!

      July 3, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • Road Dawg

      Son, I think this article's tryin' to warn you about some of your old fishin' buddies who like to go "camping" a lot.

      July 5, 2012 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
  13. Hugh Jass

    Come on, people, where are the jokes? The internet gives you "sexual fluidity" and you make LEMONADE? I've got more sexual fluid in my pinky than some of you clowns do in your entire vocabularies. There ought to be quarts of the stuff oozing all over the page by now.

    July 3, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Eddie Murphy

    I can feel my butt getting hot from all you gay men looking at it. Stop that right away.

    July 3, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Son of the South

    CNN it is about time for you to begin covering other forms of suckshull depravity other than this: how about covering for various football coaches, aspecially one named "Jerry."? Or, how about sticking up for beastialites? You know there have to be an awful lot of them in your veiwing audience. I think some people would let a snake screw them if it would only hold it's head straight enough. Yep, sounds just like CNN's staff and loyal Liberal supporters.

    July 3, 2012 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Murphy

      Why don't you go back to sitting on the porch and playing your banjo? I think your sister and wife is calling you for dinner. Roadkill possum and sweet taters, yum yum, and stop lookin' at my butt.

      July 5, 2012 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
  16. The Blob

    I am sexually fluid. No, wait, fluidly sexual is more like it. Watch me flex!

    July 5, 2012 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Murphy

      Whatever you are, stop lookin' at my butt. Wait, do you even have eyes? Ecchh.

      July 5, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  17. Evan

    You've opened a can of worms, Mr. Kerner, congratulations.

    July 14, 2012 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. John Flavor

    There's a logical fallacy called the false binary {related: exclusion of the middle}.

    You're guilty of it.

    July 31, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Irene

    Are men sexually fluid? Well, why don't you take a look at human history, for example Greece and Rome? Or to other cultures different than the American, for a change, in which male/male sex is quite common among unmarried men? Or why don't you take a look at what happens in prisons, or Armies, or in the Catholic Church, or in every all-male environment that has ever existed?
    There you've got your answer. If somebody dares to doubt that men are sexually fluid, it's because he has lived under a rock his entire life, or knows nothing about history and human behaviour, or it's an hypocrite.

    September 11, 2012 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. spread some love

    yes..men and women are sexually fluid..but it all comes down to their preference at any given time in their life...
    People spend a lot of time protecting the self image they were introduced to by those who surround them.Too bad.
    It is very sad and miserable that u don't get to be yourself
    It's good to try out different type of things and see if you don't actually like it.
    We are all sexual beings..we don't have to place ourselves in boxes or let people do it to us.
    Gone are the days of ignorance
    Sexual fluidity is actually a reality

    October 21, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jason Lee

    Men just want sex with anyone, anything.

    January 14, 2013 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. almolesee

    http://www.vipaffiliates.com The highest commissions and the best customer service available online. Period.

    January 17, 2013 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. YeahYeahYeah

    Um... ever heard of the Kinsey Scale? It's not static either. Of course, men who are still trapped in macho social mores won't accept it.

    But all is not lost. It's quite easy to measure (literally) what a man is attracted to. It's called Penile Plethysmography. Doesn't require any talking or writing answers to quizzes. And it doesn't lie.

    February 13, 2013 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. miklit

    Of course all humans have bisexual tendancies. That should be realized by age seven. The degree to which those tendancies are actualized is strictly a matter of societal suppression/Repression.btw, it is very creepy that in the year 2013 human beings still claim to know the will of a god they cannot be even remotely certain exist. Creepy and murderous...

    March 25, 2013 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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  26. Jess deFax

    Kort is a gay man who identified as gay all his life. His theory of sexual fluidity in males is not backed by any scientific research but it sells books and false hope to wives of men who are coming out late in life. When pressed to provide any scientific research on this topic, Kort is unable to produce anything but anecdotal stories, supposedly from his practice.

    September 8, 2015 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kyle

    It certainly is not "well established" that females are more sexually fluid than males. It might seem that way because girl on girl experimentation is not only acceptable and encouraged but also does little to nothing to alter her hetero status. Males generally have significantly stronger, more urgent sex drives than females so it stands to readon that minus sociocultural condemnation and shaming of guy on guy experimentation, many more would admit their experiences or act on their curiosity. I have always considered myself gay. The dozen or so women I found myself sexually attracted to and had sx with did nothing to change my orientation. Behavior itself is a poor indicator of ones orientation.

    May 9, 2016 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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