Originally published on attitude.co.uk
I am currently in something called a “monogamous relationship”. It makes a nice change, partly because I’ve slept with more guys in the last four years than most people have in their entire lives – except Paris Lees, she could probably give me a run for my money.
That’s not a boast or bravado or anything. It’s a fact. I’ve had that same moment in the STI clinic that Samantha had in Sex and the City: silent, confused head-counting when the nurse asks how many sexual partners you’ve had. I actually still wouldn’t be able to figure it out, even if I sat down and made a spreadsheet. I imagine it’s somewhere around the four hundred mark. An average of two every week for four years. And that’s not even counting weekends.
I’m not remotely insecure about it. I have absolutely no shame. Otherwise I wouldn’t be admitting it here. Well, “admitting” is the wrong word to use. People admit things when they’ve done something wrong. I’m not admitting. I’m just, you know… telling you, to give all this a bit of necessary context.
A few months back, I was at a party and the subject of sexual headcount came up, as it often does. I gave my (estimated) figure, and a creature wearing a Topman t-shirt and a judgemental brand of hair gel piped up: ‘Oh so you’re a slut then?’ I didn’t know how to respond. I think I squeaked out a ‘yes’, but on the night-bus home and stewing in a tipsy stupor, I thought, as we all have, of the multitude BETTER RESPONSES I could have given, or questions I could have asked him in return.
Like, what’s your definition of ‘slut’? What does the word ‘slut’ even mean? Is there a number on it? Like, if you’ve slept with 29 people, you’re not a slut, but if you’ve slept with 30, you are? Is Pamela Anderson a slut? I don’t see her as a slut, I see her as a cultural icon/militant animal rights activist. The word ‘slut’ doesn’t actually bother me. What bothers me is anyone being finitely defined by anything – including the number of people they’ve slept with.
That boy at that party put me on a little blacklist in his head simply because of the number of penises I’ve had in my mouth. But there was a lot about me he didn’t find out. He did not find out, for example, that my favourite condiment is tartar sauce, that I got an A* in English Literature at A-Level, or that Kelly Brooke once stepped over me when I was drunk lying on the pavement on Wardour Street. All potentially very interesting subjects to cover, which he will never find out in his life ever. His loss.
It’s a good example of how close-minded people get themselves into a sort of vicious cycle of close-mindedness: Their close-minded opinions mean they’re too close-minded to listen, which makes them even more close-minded, and before they know it, they’re sat at home with no friends watching Goggle box.
It might be interesting to acknowledge at this point that I’ve only ever been slut-shamed by other gay men. Girls are usually fairly indifferent, and straight men are usually envious – to the point where they might download Grindr for a couple of days, think ‘what the fuck am I doing’, delete it, and go down the pub for a nice masc pint.
It’s quite clear to me that the reason a lot of gay men slut-shame is because of their own insecurities. If they encounter someone who’s unapologetically sexually active, it can be threatening, and perhaps makes a little dose of self-loathing homophobia bubble to the surface. Despite how liberal we LIKE to think society is, the sex lives of gay men certainly still isn’t the ‘norm’. If it was, there’d be gay sex scenes in mainstream outlets like adverts and action movies. And there still aren’t. Ever. We’re only allowed in to play supporting roles in TV shows, and only occasionally. But a lot of gay men don’t like talking about sex, and feel they need to hide their sex lives, especially around straight people.
There are other reasons too. For the majority of gay men, sex was a source of stress, and something to be hidden, from a very young age. For older generations, promiscuity has problematic implications because of the AIDS epidemic, and now the younger generations are being taught to find it problematic all over again, with increasing dialogue about Grindr and chemsex. The other day I saw an article with the headline “Are Gay Men Having Too Much Sex?”
How ridiculous. It’s impossible to have too much sex. It’s like saying “Are Gay Men Swimming Too Much?” or “Are Gay Men Listening To Too Much Madonna?” You can have too much sex for the wrong reasons. You can also listen to too much Madonna for the wrong reasons. But as long you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and go about it safely, THERE. IS. NO. SUCH. THING. AS. TOO. MUCH. SEX. How can there be?
Unless you’re religious, there’s no reason why it should have any moral implications for yourself or anyone else. It’s quite simply putting one part of your body into another part of someone else’s body, or vice versa.
In conclusion – if you’re uncomfortable with how much sex I have, you’re entitled to your opinion. Just don’t judge me when you meet me at parties. And use a different brand of hair gel. Who knows, you might even get laid.