Toronto
3 min

The silliness of butt sex

Same-sex attraction comes naturally but technique takes practice

I had a lot of problems with Brokeback Mountain, not the least of which was the unexplored agency of class and education.

The film opens in Wyoming in 1963, or just about the time homos around the western world were starting to feel the first stirrings of gay pride. Any homos with any education, money or smarts would have lit out for the coast. The fact that Brokeback’s two cowboys didn’t, that the idea wasn’t even within their imaginative grasp, was for me the most depressing thing about the movie. Images from their dead-end lives stuck with me for days afterward.

The second most depressing thing, though, was the first sex scene — you know, the one that happens in the tent — though I say sex scene advisedly because you don’t really see anything. After weeks of studiously not looking at each other’s manly physiques, the two cowboys sleep together one cold night, huddling together for warmth. One hand creeps over the covers and you think, oh this is nice, they’re going to cuddle, and then, wham, bam, they’re into a major rutting session. And not just neophyte diddling, but hard-core, advanced-options, no-lube barebacking.

These guys are supposed to be complete neophytes with no connection to the larger gay world and suddenly they’ve mastered the high and complicated art of bum fucking. Not likely. Same-sex desire may be innate but technique is not. You have to learn that sort of stuff and who the hell taught these guys?

Maybe the filmmaker just assumed gay men have only one kind of sex. It was anal or nothing. Maybe the scene was his way of saying, “Look, they did it!” a kind of cinematic shorthand for gay sex.

Or maybe, the filmmakers had been reading Bert Archer. The author of The End Of Gay was the only queer author included in the recent anthology of men’s writing, What I Meant To Say: The Private Lives Of Men, and he used the occasion to mount an enthusiastic defence of gay sex, especially penetration. He had all sorts of political reasons but it all boiled down to bum fucking. That’s when the prose really started to pick up steam and we started to hear about “a feeling of voraciousness, that you could go on forever, take all comers; you want it deeper, faster, harder, grasping, always on the verge….”

Well, yeah, fair enough, I guess, and each to his own, but his generalization about the sex habits of homos — “It’s a kiss on the cheek, a twist of the nipple and right up the butt” — struck me as a little bare bones. Aside from the fact that there just has to be more to sex (please, please, please, let there be more), sex has always struck me as paradoxically silly, especially when it comes a-creepin’ up your butt.

I was watching some on-line porn recently involving some supposedly straight surfer dude and his toys. As this blond-haired god ground his hips down onto a big plastic penis, I thought he looked like nothing so much as a dreamy-eyed infant who had discovered a new use for his dummy.

There’s something inherently funny about shoving stuff up the old poop chute and, oddly, the only people who really seem to understand this are straight. The funniest thing in the very straight and wonderfully sophomoric Vice Guide To Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll was a piece on getting girls to be “down with the brown.” Aimed at heteros, it advised the budding bum fucker to finger his girlfriend’s asshole while eating her out. “Give it small and swirling ‘hellos,’ as if you were trying to pet a newborn squirrel without scaring it too much.”

Archer suggests sex is neither a joke or a sacrament, but surely it’s both. Some folks see the butthole as a gateway to other worlds (see Tom Spanbauer’s wild and wacky western, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon); others as a site of tension. Gerald Heard, the prominent gay mystic who influenced both Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley, thought that all kids should have their sphincters loosened at the age of seven to lessen anxiety.

Me, I just think the bum is a bum, which makes it an odd place to greet people, especially if you’re working doggy style. If you’re trying to get to know someone, why are you turning your back on them?

Of course the only thing weirder than having anal sex is not having it, and when we think weird we immediately think the Internet. There’s a whole site out there dedicated to the proposition that fucking is submasculine and the only way to preserve the true guy-guy ethos is to rub dicks. Called “Heroic Homosex” (Heroichomosex.com), it’s devoted to the proposition that, “You don’t have to surrender your masculinity to be sexual with another man. Frot [as in frottage, rubbing penises together] is the safe, hot, intimate and masculine alternative to anal sex.”

To which you just want to say: Who cares? Put it where you want. Just as long as it tickles your funnybone.