Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sex in public places: Where Straight Guise Hide

There is a great article in Mondays Miami Herald on sex in public restrooms by Steve Rothaus.

This quote is one of the reasons why straight men turn to other men. Gay men have always known that the men coming to have sex at restrooms are closeted gay men and straight men looking for quick, anonymous sexual encounters that they cannot get with women either because they are afraid to talk to her about their sexual interests.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Erotic Intelligence: Theater of the Sexual Mind

I am trained in helping individuals and couples understand the meaning of their sexual lives, fantasies and behaviors.

A large portion of my practice is dedicated to those suffering from sexual addiction and compulsivity, sexual abuse, sexual identity confusion, MSM's and other related sexual issues.

I have a chapter on what I call one's "Sexual Shadow" in Chapter 7 in my book, "10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Find Real Love".

And now there is a book for couples that takes these books a step further exploring the secret logic to sexual issues between couples; MATING IN CAPTIVITY by Esther Perel.

“Emotional intelligence” has become an increasingly popular term to help people improve performance in the workplace and in educational settings. Employers and teachers are coming to recognize that emotional intelligence plays a role in understanding people.

Similarly, erotic intelligence—what men and women do and fantasize about sexually—reveals quite a bit about them. Your sexual fantasies are a result of your psychological makeup. Your libido is not separate from who you are. In fact, much of one’s identity is embedded in their erotic life. Just as you can tell much about people from the friends they keep, so you can tell a lot about anyone by understanding his sexual desires.

MSM’s arousal templates have prompted them to be sexually drawn to encounters with other men. Erotic intelligence is not so much about sex as it’s expressed through sex, and this chapter will help explain why. One’s childhood and past experiences become linked and embedded in one’s arousal template—one’s sexual fantasies, desires and behaviors.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Guise and Dolls

Over the years I have treated hundreds of men--gay, bisexual and straight--who tell me that they enjoy various sexual fantasies and sexual acts but would never tell their wives. They want to tell and include her in their sexual world but worry about her judgment about something they already feel ashamed about.

Some actually do tell and receive responses such as this:

"You want me to do that? I am not that kind of woman!"
"Why would you want anal sex? Are you gay?"
"I am not going to do that and you better not get that anywhere else!"
"You cheated on me because you don't love me."

The fact is that most of these men want to engage in sexual behaviors, sexual fantasies, sexual talk, and perhaps pornography--either with their female partners included or at the very least with her knowledge.

Women often judge that if their male partners do not tell her about their sexual interests that it is because they don't love her. The fact is they don't tell because they love her do not want to lose her.

Take my client George for example. He had strong interests in receiving anal sex. He enjoyed inserting dildos and his fingers into his anus and derived strong sexual pleasure from this. He worried he was gay and learned in therapy that enjoying anal sex is not an indicator of one's homosexuality. It is a sexual act and desire which is separate from one's identity.

After George put this into perspective he decided to tell his wife. He told her of his sexual interests in his anal sex where he is the received and asked her if she would be willing to use sex toys and even a strap-on to wear while penetrating him anally. She became immediately angry accusing him of being gay and telling him she never wanted to talk about it.

Feeling ashamed, he never brought it to her attention again and found himself hiding his sex toys and looking for male partners who would anally penetrate him. He was clear that if his wife was receptive to his sexual interest he would not seek out men to engage in this act.

I asked him why he sought men and other women to do this and he said he had but received the same negative judgments from them. He reported that men who enjoyed giving anal sex never judged him. He did not care about what the men looked like or what their personality was he simply enjoyed the sexual act.

I am not blaming his wife for his acting out sexually with other men. I do hold her accountable for not being more open to talking with him about his sexual interest and at least experimenting with his sexual desires.

This is not limited to women in terms of being sexually judgmental. Men can be this way as well when it comes to their partners needs and interests. However, women tend to be less sexually open than men and these men then stray from the marriage to get their sexual needs met.

This illustrates only one of many reasons why men seek out sex with other men.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Reparative Therapy Guise?

***Note*** My intention in this blog entry is not to put down the work of Warren Throckmorton but to explain why I see concepts of reparative therapy throughout his work as a result of his statement that "his work does not have elements of sexual reorientation".

Warren Throckmorton posted what he believes to be my "misinterpretation" about his guidelines of his work. I blogged on July 26 this:

The problem is that when you read on both Throckmorton and Yarhouse talk about homosexuality as being able to be changed. Like reparative therapy they promise to make straight soldiers out of homosexual men....... I do wish Throckmorton and Yarhouse would stop promising to change peoples sexual and romantic orientation.

Throckmorton took issue with what I wrote on his blog writing:

Puzzled, I am. In fact, here is what we say in the framework:

Prior to outlining the recommendations, let us define what they are not. They are not sexual reorientation therapy protocols in disguise.

But throughout Warren Throckmorton's work on both his website and blog he does mention that change is possible. It may not be in the guidelines but it is throughout his body of work.

Here are just a few references from Throckmorton's work supporting and believing that change from gay to straight is possible:

In the video, "I Do Exist"

"Produced by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, I DO EXIST is a documentary about homosexuals who have changed their identity to one that is heterosexual. The documentary explores the different types of homosexuality from the people who dabble in it and people who adopt a gay identity...The most important part of the documentary is interviews with people who had identified as gay for many years and decided to change...

He is the producer of this video and still sells it and endorses it today. That means he supports the concept that sexual reorientation from gay to straight is possible.

Next, on Throckmorton's website he sites Exodus and PFOX as appropriate resources for those struggling with homosexual behavior. These groups promote the concept of changing from gay to straight. This is anti-gay and harmful.

That would be like me saying the KKK is a resource being for people struggling with Judaism!

And finally, Throckmorton's support of Yarhouse's work, which talks about changing from gay to straight, shows his support in that type of work.

It is important in anyone's work not to isolate a guideline or a book without looking at the entirety of one's body of work. Throckmorton cannot deny that while the main thrust of his work is not about changing sexual orientation, he does support those who do in his writings, videos and website.

Where does the concept of changing from straight to gay start and stop within Throckmorton's work. Hopefully he and his colleagues will work out these bugs within their work.

Men struggling with same sex attractions, desires and sexual behaviors should not be told, promised or guided to resources that speak of change of sexual orientation if they are, in fact, gay. This is harmful and a lie.

Wayne Besen (and numerous others doing research in sexual reorientation) have dispelled this work of the false concept of changing from gay to straight time and time again.

Where Throckmorton and I overlap is in helping men make sense of their same sex behaviors and assisting them in living congruent lives with integrity within themselves and others.

I believe Throckmorton's work is the best work out there at this time in helping men live within integrity with themselves if coming out is not an option for them. But they are still homosexuals. The one's who "change" were not gay from the start. Period.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am homosexual, not gay

There are men who do exist who understand they have a homosexual orientation but do not want to live as gay men. These men feel out of integrity with themselves in terms of their religious beliefs, cultural and ethnic teachings, family values and other important factors which trump their willingness to live a life as a gay man.

They do not respond to gay affirmative therapy nor do they respond to reparative therapy and are neither proud of their homosexuality nor repulsed by it. They just do not want to live their lives as such.

Warren Throckmorton has begun promoting his work to help these men. I have to admit that overall his work sounds reasonable.

On his website he promises that with the help of his program, Sexual Identity Therapy, these men can be helped. He writes:

Sexual Identity Therapy seeks to aid people in conflict over sexual identity to integrate and live out a valued sexual identity. This page is dedicated to an examination of guidelines that provide a framework for such therapy. The guidelines are authored by Warren Throckmorton and Mark Yarhouse.

The problem is that when you read on both Throckmorton and Yarhouse talk about homosexuality as being able to be changed. Like reparative therapy they promise to make straight soldiers out of homosexual men.

Jack Drescher and others show high levels of relapse for men who attempt to change their sexual orientation.

I have helped many men who know they are homosexual but don't want to be gay. In other words, they know they have a homosexual sexual orientation but cannot and will not live their lives as gay men. For them it goes against their core values of how they want to live.

My work with them is to rid themselves of any shame, guilt or self-hatred about having same sex attractions and feelings. They ultimately understand they are homosexual and cannot change that and can change how they choose to live.

They understand the potential hazards of taking this route which could be relapse into homosexual behaviors and/or marrying heterosexually, starting a family and deciding to come out later in life as so many closeted gay men do.

What makes these men that are homosexual and do not wish to live as gay men different is that they tell the women they fall in love with about their homosexual orientation and together they make informed decisions about going forward.

It is not up to me or anyone else to tell these men how to live.

I do wish Throckmorton and Yarhouse would stop promising to change peoples sexual and romantic orientation. Why isn't their work balanced with helping straight people change to homosexual. Plenty of women who have been harmed by males through rape, domestic abuse and violence and other patriarchal abuse might consider a program to make them lesbian if Throckmorton would help them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How Reparative Therapy is different from Straight Guise

There is an excellent four part story on the ex-gay movement entitled My Ex-Gay Life: Dissecting Reparative Therapy My Ex-Gay Life: Dissecting Reparative Therapy

There is a great quote they start with:

"Sexuality is a fluid, dynamic thing. There’s no such thing as sexually-fixed identities - those are things that are fabricated by man." - Michael Glatze

And then the lies begin by those interviewed from the reparative therapy camps:

We are an organization of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists around the country who really are committed to helping individuals who are dissatisfied with their same-sex attractions," says Joseph Nicolosi, one of the founders of the organization who currently serves as its President. "We’re defending their right to receive such treatment, and our right to offer such treatment."

The lie is that their treatment is the belief that everyone is born straight and that homosexuality is heterosexuality gone bad!

They will state in their literature that there is "nothing gay about homosexuality". This is the problem with NARTH, Nicolosi, and other programs for "ex-gays". That one can become "ungay"--like the 7-UP commercials for the un-cola I guess.

The problem is that they are calling homosexuality inherently damaged and a result of pathology. This is old school thinking.

No one can go from gay to straight. They can stop sexual behaviors but the gay man is still gay and the lesbian is still a lesbian. I always say if I never have sex for the rest of my life I am still a gay man.

However, the straight man who engages in homosexual behavior and stops was never gay from the start! He was a straight man having sex with other men for many reasons that are not all pathological.

Nicolosi goes onto say:

"[They need to] get those needs met thought a relationship with other men," he says. "The focus is not on not having gay sex... it’s putting the emphasis on making deep emotional attachments. And we have seen that when these men make deep emotional attachments to other men, their sexual interest diminishes."

Nicolosi is saying that gay men who put emphasis on making deep emotional attachments with other men they will no longer be gay. Tell that to the thousands of gay men--including myself--who have deep emotional attachments to other men and are still gay.

Are there straight men who hunger for male intimacy and act out homosexually and once the need is met they no longer seek out sex with men? YES.

Are there bisexual men who are more attracted to women but have sex with men and stop? YES.

Yes. But they are straight or bisexual from the start. They are not gay.

The issue at hand here is that reparative therapy has confused a gay identity with straight men who have sex with other men. They are apples and oranges. The theories are accurate in why someone would seek out sex with other men but they are not about being gay or homosexuality.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gay Guise: What to do when your client has sex with men, but is straight

Gay Guise: What to do when your client has sex with men, but is straight
By Joe Kort, LMSW

From the July/August issue of The Psychotherapy Networker

Paul, a slim, attractive, 29-year-old white man who owns a landscaping company, was referred to me by his therapist (with whom he was making no progress) shortly after he attempted suicide. He told me that eight months previously, Julie, his fiancée, had discovered that he'd been having unprotected anal sex with men. When she confronted him, he denied it, but soon broke down and confessed. Devastated and angry, she broke off their engagement, accusing him of being duplicitous (she believed they were monogamous) and secretive. Worst of all, she felt frightened that he'd put her at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Paul loved Julie and said he knew she was the woman for him. They'd dated for three years and been engaged for one. He hadn't told her about his homoerotic tendencies, nor had he confessed his suspicions that he might be bisexual. Then again, he thought every guy had some homoerotic thoughts that he probably kept private. He couldn't understand why Julie was so angry with him or why she didn't try to understand what he was going through.

Instead, Julie had rebuffed all his desperate and obsessive attempts to win her back. Ultimately, she'd had a restraining order issued against him. Shortly after this, Paul engaged in a binge of sexual acting-out with both men and women, culminating in the suicide attempt that brought him to my office.

This has happened many times: a man comes into my office, referred by his own therapist and clutching coming-out literature the therapist has given him. He explains that his therapist has tried, unsuccessfully, to help him come out as a gay or bisexual man. But even though he's had sex with other men or gone to gay male Internet porn sites, he insists he isn't gay. He says he isn't homophobic, either; if it turns out that he is gay or bisexual, he'll accept it and move on with his life—but it just doesn't feel right to him.Historically, psychotherapy assumed homosexuality was a psychological disorder. Therapists focused on helping clients "recover" and find their innate heterosexuality, much to the harm of many gays and lesbians.

During the last three decades, in reaction to these prejudiced and destructive attitudes, we've seen the pendulum swing so far the other way that it's now become almost a therapeutic credo, not to mention a requirement of political correctness, to assume that men who have sex with men are "in denial," and that the clinician's job was to help them recognize and accept their "true" homosexual orientation. In fact, neither extreme represents the experience of many men.The truth is that many men who have sex with men aren't gay or bisexual. Although their confused mental and emotional state resembles that of the initial stages of coming out, gay men go on to develop a gay identity, whereas these men don't.

Therapists who treat such men need to realize that just because a client is sexual with the same gender doesn't necessarily reflect his sexual or romantic orientation. While we may believe we've accurately assessed whether a client is gay, it isn't up to us as therapists to make this judgment. Countertransference, cultural stereotypes, and personal feelings too often enter the therapy room and complicate our work—particularly with these clients. Therapists need to help such clients discover for themselves whether they're acting out a gay or bisexual identity by asking the right questions and by agreeing on a shared vocabulary.

To read more click here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Is my man checking out other men? Homosexual fantasies aren't always a red flag

I was interview by Brian Alexander of MSNBC about Straight Guise.

Brian Alexander, an MSNBC contributor answered the following question:

What should a wife do if she suspects her husband is thinking of another — and that other is a man?

Q. My husband doesn’t want sex more than once or twice a week. Recently, I accidentally found some material on his computer that indicates he enjoys homosexual and transsexual/transvestite porn. Is it possible he’s gay or is this a normal thing for some men to be into?

Straight Guise and HIV/AIDS

Straight men who have sex with men are at high risk for contracting HIV because they commonly do not use protection. Using condoms means that they would have premeditated their sexual behavior with other men--which they do not.

This prompted the popular 2003 Oprah show on men who go on the downlow. These men were exposing themselves to HIV and other STD's and bringing it back to their wives and female partners.

In other words, when straight men have sex with other men it is often without protection. To use protection would make them "gay" and they either are not or are struggling with coming to terms with their gay identity.

In the words of my clients and studies of these straight men, if they were to bring protection it would mean that they were intentional in terms of having sexual contact with another man. This would raise the issue of whether or not they are gay or bisexual. To avoid this line of thinking their sexual behaviors with other men are spontaneous, impulsive and often unconscious in the planning so that no preparation is involved to protect themselves or others.

Some readers will respond to this saying, "Well there you go it is because they are gay or bisexual and in denial and don't want to have to admit that they are what they are!".

If it were just that easy to explain--but it is not.

Some MSM's are, in fact, in denial about their homosexuality or bisexuality and are in an early stage of coming out. However the others are heterosexual men who are aroused by having sex with other men for a variety of reasons.

Because of homophobia, they are won't explore what their behavior means and risk HIV and pass it to others.

My hope is this blog heightens awareness for these men to use protection.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coming Out or Acting Out?

Men who have sex with men are questioning their sexuality and are trying to find explanations about what they are thinking, doing and feeling.

For some it can be the beginning of the coming out process. The first three stages of coming out are riddled with confusion, denial and questioning whether one is really gay or not.
Straight men who have sex with men and gay men in the early stages of coming out resemble each other.

How can you distinguish whether your gay/bisexual or a straight man who seeks sex with other men?

For gay men they continue moving onto the final three stages of coming out and recognize it is about their identity. To be a gay man describes a sexual orientation characterized by lasting aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual attraction exclusively for others of the same sex or gender. To be gay man means that his thoughts, fantasies and behavior are aligned. It is an identity based on affectional, emotional, spiritual, psychological and sexual feelings exclusively or mostly to men.

For bisexual men, they can enjoy both men and women being part of some of their sexual fantasies and behaviors. He might be more turned on to one gender than the other or to both equally but he has desire for both. Bisexual men will be only drawn to both images of men and women on the beach and will find himself distracted by wanting to look and potentially meet these either of them for a sexual and/or romantic relationship. In relationship they choose either a male or female and can choose monogamy if that is what they want while still enjoying fantasies of the other gender.

For straight men who have sex with men (SMSM) they engage in sexual behavior with other men, and are not "gay" or "bisexual". These men have sex with men and engage in sex acts with men but their orientation is heterosexual and not gay. These men are not romantically or sexually aroused by other men. They are not sexually distracted by images of other men on a beach or other public places. They are sexually aroused and attracted to women and are aroused at images of naked women or women in sexy attire and are left cold by these same images of men. SMSM’s seek sex with other men for reasons that are not about sexual and/or romantic orientation but are about sexual preferences. In fact they are turned off and left cold by naked images of men.

Their same-gender sex acts are about physical release and about the behavior not about attraction or desire for another man. Often they prefer for women to be present making the sexual contact more exciting. Their behavior reflects a narrative about the man in terms his need for bonding and affection from another man, experimentation, potential problems with his sexual feelings and desires, childhood sexual abuse, abuse from males throughout his life and many other factors.

In some cases strong, recurring same-sex fantasies can indicate a deeper social or sexual need. Loneliness and lack of identity can cause an erotic reaction to thoughts of other men. They often need drugs and alcohol to be part of their sexual behavior and often find themselves less aroused with men than they are with women.

SMSM's do not struggle with sexual desire for other men in terms of wanting romantic relationships as do gay and bisexual men.

The struggle for SMSM's is that because of heterosexism which insists someone is either straight, bisexual or gay based on their behavior that their sexual behavior defines them.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Women Who Love Straight Guise

A lot of my work consists of therapy with women in love with men who have sex with men. These can be mixed-orientation marriages where their spouse or partner is a gay or bisexual man or it can be with a women who learns her male partner is fantasizing and/or wants to have sex with other men.

Learning that a man seeks, fantasizes or wants sexual contact with another man does not mean he is gay as this blog explores the numerous other possibilities that exist. It does not mean the marriage has to end.

To see me talking about these couples click below:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Unhung Heroes: Men who eroticize having small penises

I wrote an article a while back entitled Unhung Heroes which I incorporated into my second book, 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Find Real Love. This article receives some of the most attention on my website in terms of people viewing it when I read my website statistics. There are men who have erotic fantasies to be humiliated about having a small penis and this form of sexual activity is called "Small Penis Humiliation".

There are men who enjoy being cuckolded where their wives and girlfriends have sex with another man in front of him and they laugh at his small penis and he experiences humiliation. Or it can be that a man enjoys being with another man's wife humilating the other man in front of him showing off is being endowment.

Remember this is enjoyable to the man with this fantasy.

Many people would find this horrifying and self-deprecating for a man to enjoy being humiliated let alone for something he cannot do anything about. However it is erotic intelligence to sexualize something that can be very shameful and there is nothing wrong with this. Blogger, author and columnist Dan Savage has given advise to a man who enjoys "small penis humiliation" and I agree with every word he says in his advice column called, Wee Weenies on July 12, 2007 to Shrink Wrapped in Chicago:

I'm a straight male in my early 30s and I have a very small dick. For five years I've been hiring attractive hookers to play with my dick and tell me how it could never satisfy them and basically humiliate me verbally. I now find myself in a "normal" relationship with a cute, relatively vanilla girl who I couldn't possibly ask to satisfy my bizarre fetish. My beliefs as a therapist come from the work I have done on how eroticism comes from turning trauma into triumph, pain into pleasure.

I would refer anyone who wonders and is worried about their sexual fantasies and behaviors to the works of Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, Michael Bader, author of Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies and Jack Morin, author of Erotic Mind for more information on this concept.

Straight Guise and Dan Savage

It seems that Dan Savage, author of books and a column Savage Love also believes in the concept of straight men having sex with men. In his current blog, (June 19, 2007), he responds to a man who is questioning his virginity and responds to Boy in Florida by stating this:

When a male escort is engaged for oral sex, it is almost always the escort who is "serviced," not the client, because many gay men—and many, many straight-identified men—actually enjoy giving head. Please make a note of it.

Perhaps both Savage and myself know about Straight Guise because we are both gay men. Gay men have known for years that there are straight men who exist who enjoy homosexual sexual acts.

Father Hunger and Straight Men Who Have Sex With Men

I belong to an international group called The New Warrior hosted by The Mankind Project (MKP) which is an organization helping men learn how to have healthy relationships with others and live in personal and relational integrity.

In the MKP my work as a psychotherapist with gay, bisexual and straight men I see men who have have father hunger. I remember sitting across from a therapist at the age of 15 in 1978 who told me that my homosexuality was a result of my absent father who neglected me my whole life. I believed this therapist as he was my all-knowing doctor but inherently I knew that this desire for my father was separate to my gayness.

I still believe this today. Homosexuality is not the result of father hunger as some psychoanalysts and reparative therapies theorize. Both straight, bisexual and gay men suffer from this when growing up where their father was not around, unavailable, unaffectionate and perhaps may have been abusive.

I do not believe that father hunger creates a gay orientation in any way. There is no evidence to support this silly concept anymore than mother hunger would make a man straight.

That said I do believe that father hunger can direct the search for intimacy with another man for gay men, bisexuals and straight men to have strong desire for intimacy with other men.

For the gay man it would include romance, affection, and possibly sex that is congruent with how they see themselves.

For the bisexual man, it might include romance, affection and possibly sex--maybe even all three--that is congruent with how they see themselves as well.

For the straight man, it might include affection and possibly sex but it is not congruent with how they see themselves at all. Romance is not a part of the sexual contact for the straight men.

Males are taught from childhood that it is taboo to touch, show affection and love another male. So for straight men, going on the "downlow" for sex with men is their unconscious way to achieve this affection. In my office these men do not desire other men the way gay and bisexual men do. They are not struggling with desire or attraction to be sexual with a man nor are they distracted by images of naked men as gay and bisexual men are.

In the book, "I Don't Want To Talk About It", author and psychotherapist Terrance Real talks about growing up male I admire Real’s work for many reasons, chiefly because he writes mostly about heterosexual men and their fathers. It illustrates that straight men have problems with their fathers similar to those that gay men face. In other words, the father issues gay men face have little to do with being gay, but everything to do with growing up males without appropriate father figures. Again, the “scientific” explanation for homosexuality is that a weak father abdicates power to the mother. Thus the boy cannot identify with his father and separate from his mother, and the boy’s hunger for a male role model becomes eroticized. “This myth,” Real writes, “is repulsive.” I totally agree!

What boys need from their father, Real argues, is “affection, not ‘masculinity’.” He rightly stresses that men need more emotion and vulnerability, which they need to learn from their fathers. By being gay, little boys experience even more disconnection from their fathers but, again, this does not make them gay. Having a queer son can horrify a father. Yet how would he know if his son were queer? Perhaps a gay son is more clinging and emotional toward him, thereby provoking a harsh response, because he’s worried that his son is effeminate. If men are so ingrained to reject anything “feminine,” then imagine how a father reacts to an effeminate son or one who doesn’t behave in gender-appropriate ways. The distance is more extreme and the disconnection more severe.

Father hunger is the reason for homosexuality promotes groups like NARTH and other anti-gay reparative groups who believe change is possible.

My stance is that father hunger can direct erotic play and be separate from one's sexual orientation. It does not make someone gay or bisexual but can promote homosexual behavior. That is what separates my work from reparative therapists who do not believe in healthy gay and bisexual orientations which I do.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mission Statment of Straight Guise

To help SMSM's (straight men who have sex with men) understand reasons behind their sexual behaviors. Some are inherently gay or bisexual. Others have numerous reasons they seek out sexual contact with men that are not about homosexual orientation. This site is also for women involved with MSM's who want to understand them.

When Sexual Abuse Masquerades as gay

Homosexual behavior doesn’t mean a man is gay or even bi, he can simply be left with an imprint to re-enact his abuse and find “pleasure” in what was inflicted on him as a child. This really isn’t pleasure at all, but trauma turned into orgasm.

In their book, Male Victims of Same-Sex Abuse: Addressing Their Sexual Response by John M. Preble and A. Nicholas Groth say it best:

. . . this may actually reflect an effort at mastery of the traumatic event . . . when he was being sexually victimized, someone else was in control of him sexually. During masturbation he is literally in control of himself sexually, and this may be a way in which he attempts to reclaim mastery over his own sexuality. Likewise, his participation in consensual sex reflects his choice and decision.

The authors go on to say that “the fantasy thoughts are prompted by fear more than desire, by anxiety more than pleasure.” In other words, they become a way of managing fear and anxiety. Larry is a good example.

Larry was a 47-year-old school teacher whose wife of 7 years threatened to divorce him. She had caught him in gay chat rooms and emailing other men about possibly hooking up. Might he be gay? He told me, “I don’t care if I am gay. I just need to know. I’ve worried about this since I was a teenager.

Larry told me that his male-male interests were about big erect penises that he could fellate. His searched the Internet to find men who wanted oral service and would show their erections on webcams. While Larry seldom ever met these men, he had done so a handful of times since he was 23 years old.

Larry also told me he’d never enjoyed any of these encounters. He would meet them, and orally please them, but feel sick and emotionally shamed.

At age 19, Larry had assumed his fantasies of fellating other men meant he was gay. He never felt romantic or sexual interest in other males while growing up, but told his father that he was convinced that this sexual fantasy was the start of his being “a homosexual.” Angry and upset, his father insisted that Larry was not gay and told him to never bring it up again. To Larry, this meant that he was on his own with these “deviant” fantasies.

While doing a thorough history on Larry, I asked about sexual abuse. He said, “None.” After asking this initial question, however, I always educate the client further by explaining that sexual abuse can be covert too; “It can feel right and good to you as a young boy. but really be abusive, based on the who the perpetrator is.”

Larry then recalled a memory that haunts him to this day.

When he was 10 years old, he and his older brother and cousin—both age 15—were at the cousin’s house. Larry looked up to these two and felt privileged to hang out with them doing “older boy” things. His brother and cousin were chewing some bubble gum and Larry asked if he could have a piece. The cousin said, “You can, as long as you give us a blow job.” Larry’s brother agreed, to which Larry said no. They continued chewing the gum. But A few minutes later, Larry’s desire for acceptance and belonging made him agree. His cousin pulled out his erection, and as soon as Larry began fellating him, both he and Larry’s brother made fun of him.
Afterward they threw a piece of gum at him and made him pick it up off the floor. That was then end of the episode—and the one and only time it happened.

How to help Larry:

I asked about the men Larry talked to on the internet. What did they look like? How old were they? Did he pursue them or was he pursued? Looking for clues into his interest in being with these men, I asked what they looked like—particularly if he looked up at them while fellating them.

Larry reported that he didn’t look up, nor did he care what the men looked like. All he focused on was the erection, and the bigger it was, the more arousing.

Now I understood the link. Larry was not closeted and in the process of coming out, but a heterosexual who was reenacting his sexual abuse—being and humiliated and shamed at age 10. When he told his father, “I think I might be gay,” he was really looking for comfort, admitting that he’d been sexually abused. Had his father questioned him further and let the conversation continue, that would have become obvious.

Was Larry’s compulsive searching the Internet for erections to fellate was his psyche’s way of seeking resolution from that sexual abuse? When I verbally presented this possibility to Larry, he began to sob uncontrollably. He finally connected to his childhood sexual abuse and what was driving his sexual-acting out.

Larry’s treatment now was to work on his childhood sexual abuse, and doing so reduced his urges to connect with men. He still had fantasies—which were normal from homosexual imprinting—but no longer felt compelled to act on them.

In learning this he could explain to his wife what his behaviors were about and she developed compassion around his past abuse and suffering rather than feeling violated that he was cheating on her or that it was about the marriage.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Not Gay: The lies of Reparative Therapy

I know I’m walking on thin ice in talking about straight men who have sex with men who are not gay because it resembles the type of work psychotherapists did in the past with gays and lesbians, as well as “conversion” or “reparative therapy” pushed today by conservative religious groups.

However the truth is that there are men who act out or enjoy sexual activity with other men who are not gay. I am not talking about changing orientation nor do I believe that a homosexual orientation is learned. I believe--and studies are pointing more and more--to research that people are born gay. I am also not talking about gay men who are in the early stages of coming out.

What I am talking about are those who are born straight, self-identify as such and have sex with men from time to time.

Reparative Therapy or Sexual Conversion

According to these now widely discredited forms of therapy, geared to “curing” homosexuals, men who acted out homosexually did so because they weren’t fathered or mothered well; their hunger for same-gendered parenting caused their homosexuality. Once this hunger was satisfied, homosexuality would disappear and clients’ innate heterosexuality would surface. It’s my judgment that these men who have sex with men aren’t gay to begin with, but are using homosexual sex to resolve past issues.

Men and women drift into the “ex-gay” movement and decide to suppress their homosexual urges because of self-hate. Dr. Partick Carnes’s book, Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred explains why someone would go to great lengths to fight their natural sexual urges. I believe this explains why gay men and lesbians turn to trying to change their innate same sex attractions.

Many religious homes are very judgmental about homosexuality. Ex-gays go through exaggerated attempts to repress, control and avoid their sexuality—in a way that parallels the dynamics of sexual anorexia.
Ex-gays have come to see me talk about believing their homosexual urges were sick and wrong. They believe their homosexuality is a sexual addiction and try to use Patrick Carnes’s model to set boundaries around their “sexual acting out” behavior. They speak of hating themselves for having these homoerotic urges and would never consider acting them out. Instead, they work hard at repressing them. Preoccupied with any feelings toward the same gender, they’re extremely judgmental toward those who do live out their homosexual orientation, sexually and romantically. They tell me they don’t believe me when as I say I’m happy in my life as a gay man.

Ex-gays go to extremes to avoid sexual contact with the same gender, even if it means behaving in hateful ways—such as trying to pass legislation against gays. I strongly believe that those in the forefront of the ex-gay movement suffer from sexual anorexia and self-hatred about homosexuality, which was taught to them as children. So many come from families, cultures, and communities that disdain homosexuality, and have incorporated this to such an extreme that they can never fully actualize themselves as the gays and lesbians they were meant to be and truly are. Along with their true sexual orientation, they have shut down their capacity to be loving and accepting, particular toward other gays and lesbians.

Since I published my book, 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives and my being a part of http://www.exgaywatch.com/, I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from ex-gays and “those who love them,” telling me about other ex-gay websites, books, and organizations, and criticizing me for not promoting the “other side” of being gay—that is, the ex-gay side.

Some do it nicely, sending me emails like, “Have you seen [a certain] site on changing one’s sexuality? Check it out.” Some are cowards, not leaving a return address, and telling me I am “going to hell” —even though being Jewish, I don’t believe in hell! The fact is, these folks simply cannot live their lives as ex-gays without being judgmental of those who live their lives as openly happy gays and lesbians. Ex-gays make a lifestyle of promoting themselves as the “healthy” alternative, as though gays and lesbians are pitted against them! It doesn’t, and shouldn’t have to be this way. If they were truly happy and aligned with how they choose to live, they would just live that way with very little fuss. They would maintain their own organizations, but not try to impose their thoughts and beliefs on others.

I’m not against those of a homosexual orientation who choose not to live as gay or lesbian. I do quarrel with their constant attempts to pass laws against me and send me emails me telling me I’m bad and wrong for living the life I do. Based on everything I’ve read and observed, I believe that ex-gays can be correctly diagnosed as sexual anorexics.

If a man has sex with another man then he is not straight!

This myth exists and is used by reparative therapies and religious programs to reduce homosexuality to a sexual behavior. There are homophobic and heterosexist individuals who are misinformed about what it means to be a gay man and believe if you commit the sexual act, than that is what you are. There are many gay men who believe the same and argue that if a man is sexual with another man he is gay. They fall into the same category of prejudice and confusion over sexual preferences and sexual orientation.


One’s sexual preference takes into account the desired sexual actions and fantasies with a partner; while sexual orientation encompasses a sexual identity with all the thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and emotions that cause us to become sexually excited. Thus, there is a distinct difference between a gay man and a “straight male seeking male,” or “SMSM.”


A gay man’s sexual orientation is characterized by lasting aesthetic attraction to, romantic love of, and sexual attraction exclusively for others of the same gender. A gay man’s sexual thoughts, fantasies, and behavior are aligned. It is an identity based on affectional, emotional, spiritual, psychological and sexual feelings exclusively or mostly toward men. While some gay men can include and enjoy women as part of their sexual fantasies and behaviors (for instance, being sexual with a woman while with another man and his wife), the gay man is mostly if not totally attracted to men. I often explain it to my clients this way: If a gay man were walking on the beach, he would be sexually drawn only to men; he wouldn’t notice women in such a way.

On the other hand, SMSM's might be sexual with men from time to time, but on the beach, they’re staring at women. These are heterosexual men who engage in sexual behavior with other men for a number of reasons. They are not gay nor are they bisexual. Their same-gender sex acts are about physical release and sex, not about attraction to or desire for another man.

SMSM's are often turned off and left cold by naked images of men. Instead, they are sexually aroused by and attracted to women. These men typically want to bond with and need affection from other men. Their behavior may also reflect a desire to experiment, or an expression of problems and conflicts with their sexual feelings and desires—which have nothing to do with being gay. More often than not, these are the men whom I counsel or whose wives come to me in such frantic states.

Clinical Case Examples in Straight Guise

All clinical cases used here are strictly composites. Any similarities are completely coincidental.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How prevalent are Straight Guise?

Consider these facts:
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 3 million women are involved with men who secretly have sex with other men.
  • The Straight Spouse Network, a national organization with support groups for mixed orientation couples, estimates that at least 2 million gay/bisexual people are married to straight partners.(This figure also includes men married to lesbians.)
  • According to the Family Pride Coalition, 20 percent of all gay men in America are in heterosexual marriages.

Plus, a recent New York City survey found nearly one in 10 men say they're straight and have sex only with other men. They also found that 70 percent of these straight-identified men having sex with men are married. In fact, 10 percent of all married men in this survey reported same-sex behavior during the past year.

Some of the findings include:

  • Straight-identified men who have sex with men reported fewer sex partners than gay men.
  • Straight-identified men who have sex with men reported fewer STD's in the past year than gay men.
  • Straight-identified men who have sex with men are less likely than gay men to report using a condom during their last sexual encounter.
  • Straight-identified men who have sex with men are more likely to be foreign-born than gay men.

The survey shows that a man who says he’s straight but is having sex with other men is more likely to be married than a straight man who has sex with women, according to the survey. Only 54 percent of the men who say they're straight and have sex with women are married, compared with the 70 percent marriage rate among the men who say they're straight but have sex with men. This is different than gay-identified men who are heterosexually married in what I call the “New Mixed Marriage” —when one partner is straight and the other is gay

Saturday, July 7, 2007

What is Straight Guise?

In this blog, I’ll explain the concept of SMSM (straight men who have sex with men). This term derives from the growing body of literature showing evidence that not all men who have sex with men—even obligatory homosexual sex—are gay. It struck such a chord that even Oprah addressed the issue when she interviewed J.L. King who originally exposed this lifestyle in the black community with his breakout bestseller, On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep with Men and Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America by Keith Boyken. Straight Guise takes King’s book several steps farther. Both books talk about this phenomenon among African-American men however the truth is that it exists amongst all races, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic classes.

Straight Guise will explore the many reasons men have sex with other men, only some of which have anything to do with homosexuality or bisexuality.

Many types of men engage in same-sex relationships, for a variety of reasons, which I will identify for the reader. A few of them are:

1. Openly Gay: These are men with homosexual orientations and preferences, who are romantically and sexually aroused by other men. When engaging in sexual activity with men, they feel affirmed and positive.

2. Closeted homosexual: These are homosexually oriented men who are sexually attracted to other men but are ashamed of their feelings and repress their urges to enjoy their fantasies and behaviors—knowing it could lead to romance and love. When they engage in same-sex behavior, they feel ashamed.

3. Hetero-Emotional and Homo-Sexual Men: These are men who are romantically attracted to the opposite sex and are usually heterosexually married and can be sexual with women they love but they are predominately aroused and driven sexually by desire for sex with other men.

4. Bisexual: These are men with combined heterosexual and homosexual orientations and preferences who are sexually—and often romantically—aroused and desire both genders. When they fantasize or act out on these urges, they too feel affirmed and positive.

5. Homosexual Imprinting: These are men acting out early childhood sexual abuse. These heterosexual men are not homosexually oriented. They do not sexually desire nor are they aroused by other men. However, they compulsively re-enact childhood sexual abuse by male perpetrators through their sexual behaviors with other men. This has nothing to do with their sexual and romantic identities.

If a basically heterosexual boy is molested by a male relative, he may keep “returning to the scene of the crime” to defuse and desensitize his emotional pain. When his original trauma gets cleared up, the “homosexual” behavior he’s re-enacting ceases. This isn’t about gayness; it is about sexual abuse.

6. Men who are sex workers/male escorts: These heterosexual men engage in sexual behavior with other men by choice for the financial reward and lack desire for the other men and are aroused by the behavior not the man.

7. Men seeking intensely arousing but shameful experiences (dildo sex, bondage): These are heterosexual men who are strongly compelled and interested in various sexual experiences and preferences that would often be labeled as homosexual. To avoid being identified in this way by females, they seek out men, whom they perceive as non-judgmental.

8. First Sexual Experience: Sometimes heterosexual males experiment with other males sexually, usually in adolescence and/or young adulthood (up to age 25) for the experience and curiosity.

9. Availability/Opportunity: These straight men have high sex drives and are sexually aroused easily. They connect with men for physical sexual release, which can be quick and easy, avoiding having to emotionally engage.

10. Father Hunger: These are heterosexual men who crave affection and attention from their fathers and seek sex with men as a way of getting that male nurturance and acceptance.

11. Narcissism: These are straight men who are self-absorbed and have a constant need for attention and acceptance; they use sexuality with men to be worshipped and adored.

12. Sexual Addiction: “Gay” behavior can be the result of sexual addiction. I’ll clarify what sexual addiction is—and isn’t—and explore its defining signs and symptoms. But even a "cured" sex addict will still feel attracted to men, as do celibate gay priests.

13. Cuckolds: These are men who enjoy fantasies of--or the reality of--their wives and girlfriends having sex with other men either in front of them, nearby or with their knowledge about when and where it occurs. They’re often sexually aroused by feeling humiliated that their wives are being pleased by another male whom they see as more potent and better endowed. Other men enjoy being sexual with other men's wives in front of the husband or at least with their knowledge. Sometimes they engage in sexual behavior with the man but only in the presence of the wife or girlfriend.

14. Exhibitionists: These are men who enjoy being looked at by both men and women as long as they are being admired for their bodies. Many are body builders and muscular and enjoy the homo-erotic attention of gay men and might even flirt with gay men to encourage more admiration.

15. Sex in Prison: These are men who are imprisoned who engage in same sex behavior. Their need for sexual release with another person occurs with men as they are available. Once released from prison they no longer engage in sexual behavior with men.

16. Homosexual Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (HOCD): This is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in which the individual is preoccupied about being homosexual when, in fact, they are heterosexual. They experience intrusive thoughts that they might be homosexual and feel compelled to engage in certain behaviors that make them think they are gay when in truth they are straight.

I’ll also address the controversial concept of reparative therapy (RT), which is based on the notion that gay or lesbian behavior is due solely to childhood trauma or gender confusion. RT does not believe there is anything positive about homosexuality and believes sexual orientation change is possible. Trying to change one’s orientation is harmful and impossible. In fact, RT has been widely discredited. I believe that RT isn’t therapy: it instills self-hate in gays and lesbians and is covert cultural sexual abuse. Every mental health institution and accrediting organizations have deemed it unethical.

Written from my perspective as a gay psychotherapist who has counseled thousands of sexually confused men over the years, Straight Guise shows how this phenomenon goes well beyond the African American community. Not a week goes by when I don’t receive distressed emails or phone calls from men who worry they might be gay and either are or are not and wives who have discovered their husbands engaged in gay hookups and relationships or exploring gay porn.

If there are any success stories by someone practicing RT or helping someone stop same sex attractions, the individual was not gay from the start. In other words those who state they have helped someone go from gay to straight or be relieved or same sex attraction are simply describing someone who is heterosexual who may have been acting out homosexual behavior having nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

The harm of groups which attempt to change sexual orientation are well documented in two excellent films, Fish Can't Fly and One Nation Under God.

I intend to help readers just as I have helped my clients, first by separating the two types of men in the world: There are men who are gay and bisexual and then there are heterosexual men who seek out sex with other men. The difference is one of sexual preference versus sexual identity.