I get a fair number of emails and messages from men who are interested in trying pegging. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “pegging” was coined by Dan Savage to describe when a person (usually a woman) penetrates their partner (usually a man) in the butt with a strap-on. And it seems like a lot of you guys are interested in this particular sex act, because it’s one of the topics I get asked about most often by readers.
I’ve noticed something really interesting about these messages though. When the author of the message is a guy, it usually goes something like “I’m not gay, but I’m really curious about pegging. I want to ask my girlfriend to use a strap-on on me, but i don’t want her to think I’m gay”. Or “I am really turned on by the idea of my wife having strap-on sex with me. Does that mean that I’m gay?”. Occasionally I will also get a woman asking for tips for successful pegging who also throws in a question about her partner’s sexuality. So I wanted to unpack that question a little, and ask if pegging, or wanting to be pegged, means that a man is gay?
First of all, let’s talk about the reasons why someone might like to be pegged. The most obvious answer is “because it feels good”. The anus is packed with nerve endings which, when stimulated, can feel incredibly pleasurable. Anal penetration is a great way to engage the prostate, which can feel amazing for the receptive partner. Pegging also allows for multiple avenues of stimulation at once, as the partner wearing the strap on can also use their hands to play with their partner’s genitals or nipples. So from a purely physical level, pegging feels great and that’s one reason why people like doing it.
Secondly, pegging creates a scenario that is mentally stimulating. For a heterosexual man who has a penis, being penetrated is not something they typically get to experience. Pegging flips the sexual script somewhat, and this can make the receptive partner feel vulnerable and even submissive. Pegging often features in BDsM play where a male partner wishes to be dominated or “taken” by a female partner. In addition to this, anal play is still considered something of a taboo, and so there’s the excitement that comes with doing something that we feel is illicit or naughty. Pegging can be very intimate and romantic, and for some couples it’s an opportunity to try something new, to share a novel and special experience together. The emotional and intellectual stimulation is as much, if not more, a part of why people enjoy playing with strap-ons.
Just as anal play is still thought of as being “risque” there’s also a stereotype that anal penetration is “gay”. There’s this idea that anal sex is a favourite pastime of all gay men, and so if you’re a man who craves butt sex, maybe that’s a sign that you’re secretly gay? Anal play has become stereotypically intertwined with homosexuality, so for a lot of people, wanting it up the butt is inherently gay.
I find this idea interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, anal play isn’t exclusive to men. Literally anyone who is willing is able to experience butt play. Everyone has a butt, and so anal play is one of the least gendered types of sex play available. And yet it’s become so deeply linked in the public psyche with gay male culture. Furthermore, anal sex isn’t as popular among homosexual men as you might think. In a 2003 study of homosexual experiences in Australia, Andrew Grulich et al reported that only one third of their participants who identified as homosexual men engaged in anal sex. On the other hand, three quarters of their gay male participants reported that they regularly engaged in oral sex. So in actual fact, blow jobs are much more popular among homosexual men than anal sex. Although some gay men do enjoy and engage in anal play, many do not. And many people who are not gay men like having their butts played with. The idea that anal sex is “gay” just isn’t correct.
Further to that, I don’t think that wanting to do particular sexual acts is an indicator of your sexuality. I think what’s more important is who you want to be doing those acts with. What defines homosexuality is being attracted to people of the same gender as yourself. So if you’re a man, and you’re not attracted to other men, then you’re not gay. If you’re a man who wants his wife/girlfriend/female sexual partner to bone him with a dildo, you’re probably not gay. What matters here is who you’re attracted to, not which acts you include in your sexual repertoire.
And finally, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, although I completely understand the confusion and fear that comes with questioning your own sexuality. If you do have an inkling that you’re attracted to members of the same gender, that’s ok. I think the fear that many people have of being “secretly gay” is one that stems from a worry that our identity is fluid, that things we feel are true about ourselves might not always be so. In my limited experience, I’ve never met a person who was personally surprised to realise that they were not heterosexual. Generally, people who are homosexual or bisexual tend to have an inkling that this is the case, even well before they’re willing to take on that label.
So no, I don’t think that wanting to try pegging means that you’re gay. It could mean that you’re interested in exploring a new sensation, or you already know how great prostate stimulation is and you want more. Or maybe you’re drawn to the power dynamics and sexual rebelliousness that pegging represents. Whatever the reason, I don’t think that being curious about or turned on by pegging means that a man is harbouring same-sex tendencies. (or that same-sex desires are something to be feared or ashamed of, but that’s a whole other blog post).