How Many Straight Men Watch Gay Porn? And How Many Gay Guys Watch Straight Porn?

A lot of people assume that men only watch porn that is consistent with their sexual identity—in other words, that straight guys only watch straight porn, while gay guys only watch gay porn. However, research suggests that this isn’t actually the case and that there’s a lot of “identity-discrepant” porn viewing going on among men.

As some evidence of this, consider a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in which researchers surveyed 821 adult American men who reported having watched porn in the last month [1]. Of the 534 gay men who participated, almost all (98%) had watched gay porn; however, 55% said they had watched at least some heterosexual porn. Likewise, among the 134 heterosexual men who took part in the study, almost all (99%) had watched straight porn; however, 21% said they had watched man-on-man porn.

For reference, 153 bisexual men took part in the study and most of them reported having watched both gay male porn (96%) and heterosexual porn (88%).

So why are so many gay and straight men today watching porn that doesn’t match up with their sexual identity labels? To understand this, it's important to recognize that people’s sexual identities have never been perfectly consistent with their sexual attractions and behaviors.

Indeed, in national surveys in which people are asked about their sexual identity, as well as whether they’ve ever been attracted to someone of the same sex and/or had sex with someone of the same sex, the numbers don’t match up at all. Usually, you'll see that the number of people who report same-sex attractions or behaviors is much higher than the number who identify as gay. That’s been the case in study after study for decades.

Part of this is because, rather than falling into a handful of clearly defined categories--gay, straight, and bisexual--sexual attraction instead falls along a continuum. This means that people can have varying degrees of heterosexuality and homosexuality. So, while some people are exclusively gay or straight, others may be mostly gay or straight, yet not consider themselves to be bisexual. These latter folks often adopt gay or straight identities, despite the fact that they do not have exclusive sexual attractions or behaviors.

Then there’s also the fact that some of us have a lot more sexual fluidity—or the capacity for a “flexible” erotic response—than others. It was once thought that sexual fluidity was largely unique to women; however, recent research suggests that men are pretty darn sexually fluid, too.

All of this is to say that it actually makes perfect sense that there’s a lot of identity-discrepant porn watching out there among men. It’s just another manifestation of the fact that human sexuality doesn’t tend to fit into neat and tidy little boxes.

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[1] Downing, M. J., Schrimshaw, E. W., Scheinmann, R., Antebi-Gruszka, N., & Hirshfield, S. (2016). Sexually Explicit Media Use by Sexual Identity: A Comparative Analysis of Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men in the United States. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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