The Science Behind Homosexual Attraction

Something has been troubling me…why am I attracted to the types of guys that I am? I would consider myself to be a very open person, but it feels like my sexual preference is very narrow. The heritage of the guy is not very important, but the body shape and level of (perceived) masculinity is essential. The guy could be a neuroscientist with a face that would make Michelangelo ashamed of his work, but if he doesn’t have a beard or scruff then my dick isn’t interested.

Why is that? Let’s start with how I first learned about sex:

My sex education began at church. I can remember sitting in a classroom for my weekly confirmation group when we were told that we would be learning about sex. A woman and her husband stood in front of us. Basically, this was the gist:

  • Woman: I had premarital sex and now I have to live with herpes for the rest of my life (and then she showed us images of herpes outbreaks on various genitalia).
  • Man: and I had premarital sex and now I have to live with HIV for the rest of my life

So naturally, I was terrified of sex. I grew up with a public school education, so, later on, I was given an admittedly healthier approach to sex education, but it was still very conservative (abstinence was the most encouraged path) and the “education” was completely heteronormative. In various science classes, we were taught about how men and women are attracted to each other, all of which boiled down to one thing: finding the most suitable mate to create a healthy offspring.

But, I’m a man who wants to fuck other men. Why are some men attracted to masculinity while others are attracted to more feminine presenting men? This question has become an obsession for the past two weeks, namely because it was so difficult to research, which I found very interesting. All of the keywords I was using lead me to articles like:

  • “Why Gay Men Are Attracted To Straight men”
    • Spoiler: it’s because they’re men
  • “Why Are There Gay Men?”
    • Only hot feminine lesbians should be allowed to exist
  • “Why Straight Women Are Attracted To Gay Men”
    • Because they see us as a commodity

While it is interesting to learn the science behind homosexuality, I was more interested in the science behind homosexual attraction. So what you are about to read comes from a smattering of articles and is my attempt at answering my own question: why am I so hard for hairy men?

Gender Politics Between “Masc” And “Fem” Gays

When I was growing up masculinity was important. Even though my nuclear family wasn’t militant about the importance of masculinity, I grew up in a culture where I heard: “walk it off”, “man-up”, or “rub some dirt in it” my fair share. But, the boys around me who acted a bit more flamboyant, or had a voice with a higher register than the rest of our classmates, were mocked relentlessly. So masculinity for me was largely about survival. I was afraid of the femininity inside of me because…well let’s be honest, I just wanted to be “normal”.

I thought when I came out as a homosexual man that I finally left the boys club, that I was finally free from the clutches of societally constructed masculinity. Turns out a large number of gay men are pro-masculinity, or perhaps more accurately…averse to femininity. Go on any dating app and you’ll see profiles that blatantly advertise their disgust of displays of femininity in men

  • “Masc4Masc”
  • “Masc only”
  • “No fems”
  • “No freaks”

Swede White is a doctoral student of Sociology at Louisiana State University. He wrote an article about the problematic relations between “masc” and “fem” gays by observing it first hand in the Louisiana bar culture.

White explained his observations by saying: the way straight men discuss women and the way gay men discuss effeminate men are remarkably similar.

“One masculine guy I interviewed hilariously told me that a slapping fight between two young twinks in the French Quarter was like watching “Gays of Our Lives.” Others made reference to “pissy queens” and a disdain for feminine men so strong that they would rule out going to certain bars to avoid them.”

Which I find so hysterical, c’mon Bruce you can be as “straight acting” as you want, but how is there a more “manly” way to take a dick in your ass?

Maybe the pressure of masculinity in the gay community has had an effect on me. Maybe the pressure to be straight-acting is so great that I am subconsciously forcing myself to only be attracted masculine-presenting men, but…probably not.

So why is masculinity so revered in such a big way in gay culture? And then why do plenty of gay-identified men find effeminate men, or gender-fluid men attractive?

Then I saw this article on Bustle. Which is based on new research by various research institutions in Germany. I’ve highlighted the most important points below:\

Why We’re Attracted To People Who Are Just Like Us, According To Science

  1. According to a study by researchers at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the University of Kansas, when it comes to romantic relationships and friendships, people are attracted to those who have very similar personalities

Well I mean yeah that makes sense. If you are an introvert who prefers spending weekends with a good book and tea then it would be a stretch to imagine that you and a party promoter would have the basis for a relationship.

  1. We’re attracted to those who have similar DNA

Again, this is based on heterosexually minded research and to clarify according to another article we are attracted to people who have similar DNA, but different immune systems. Which makes for the highest compatibility for a healthy offspring.

  1. We’re attracted to those who look like us, or a family member.

I don’t know about you but this is not true at all for me, or for a lot of people in the LGBTQ community for that matter. In fact, the people that I am least attracted to, are the ones who resemble me. Of course, there are muscle bears who are most attracted to muscle bears and twinks who love other twinks, but the men I am most attracted to share similar personality traits to myself but vastly different physicalities.

Maybe I am most attracted to what I would like to look like…

Why We Are Attracted To People Who Are Wrong For Us

Then I stumbled across an article that dug a little deeper into the psyche of why we sometimes choose sexual and romantic relationships that are inherently wrong for us.

Written by David Wolfe, the article cites the research of Shelly Bullard.

“Bullard believes we all have two selves: the “little self,” or the wounded self, the ego – and the “Spiritual Self” — the higher self, adult self, or soul. She explains that the wounded self is the part of you that feels incomplete.”

Ah, so maybe I’m projecting my own insecurity in my masculinity (or lack-there-of) by seeking out sexual partners who mirror my own childhood ideals of masculinity. But, in my relationships that lasted more than a night, even though the guys were aesthetically masculine, there was a feminine energy that they all had in common…well some of them had in common. The relationships in which the guy had trouble accepting their femininity were doomed from the start.

“Bullard explains, ‘your unconscious is programmed to attract people who activate your wounds. The reason for this is so you’ll grow.’

I have been known to play out old traumas from the past, and I always felt guilty about doing so. Turns out it was just my psyche trying to heal itself. Huh, I guess those times I shouted “fuck you, asshole” I really should have said, “thank you, asshole”. Because they were without a doubt bonified assholes, but without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

So let me address that now: thank you for showing me your lack of intelligence and a severe aversion to openness and for making me feel like an embarrassment due to my inability to be anything other than me, I really appreciate it…fucking pricks.

Unraveling The Mystery Of Attraction

Originally published in 1988 is a self-help book called: Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. There are a few sections in the book that call upon the science of attraction that I felt you may find interesting:

  1. The exchange theory:
    1. The basic idea of the exchange theory is that we select mates who are more or less our equals.
    2. Probably why you see so many “celebrity couples” and not a headline that reads “Chris Pratt falls in love after replying to Wolfe’s tenth love letter”
  2. The persona theory:
    1. The persona theory maintains that an important factor in mate selection is the way a potential suitor enhances our self-esteem.
    2. The operative question here is: “What will it do to my sense of self if I am seen with this person?”
      1. I am embarrassed to admit that I have ended a fling simply because I thought others would judge me for being with them. I have even been embarrassed about my sexual preference in men at all.

Attraction In The Unconscious Mind

This has already been mentioned above, but the unconscious mind plays a SIGNIFICANT role in choosing a love interest.

Hendrix explains that your “old brain” (the caveman or reptilian brain that I mention in my last blog post) believed that it had finally found the ideal candidate to make up for the psychological and emotional damage you experienced in childhood.

Do you see how fucking stupid your brain can be? Simultaneously reopening old wounds by seeking out men who rehash old trauma, and convincing yourself that this individual can help heal some of your emotional damage. The brain is so crazy; I don’t trust anyone who says they’re sane.

Fetishes versus Kinks

For some individuals, fetishes or kinks make up a large portion of their sexual identity. I thought maybe I could uncover some secret to my sexual preference by studying where fetishes come from. And I did…

First here is the definition of a fetish according to one of the kinkiest places on the internet: Reddit.

A fetish is:

  1. Any body part (body part is sub categorized as a partialism over fetishism), object or action that normally has no sexual connotation
  1. A significant (majority) part of your sexual identity

So a fetish has to be vital in order for you to achieve sexual gratification. If sucking on some toes while you’re having sex really gets your juices flowing, you have a kink. If you can’t reach climax unless you have some visual cues of feet i.e shoes then you are the proud owner of a foot fetish.

I’ll be straight gay with you, I myself have a kink that some (mostly straight people) have thought of as a little odd. I am really turned on by bad body odor, specifically armpits. I find the smell after a man has been sweating to be incredibly arousing.

Where A Fetish Comes From

Markham Heid wrote an article on Shape, an online magazine reporting mainly on health related topics; this article, however, is called Your Brain On: A Fetish and cites the research of Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a sex educator and research psychologist at Harvard University.

There are several theories as to how a fetish develops. The four most generally accepted are: 

  1. The brain-overlap theory. The areas of your noodle that control your sexual body parts and impulses are located alongside areas that control other appendages and emotions. (The brain region that manages your genitalia is nestled against the region that manages your feet.) These adjacent brain regions can engage in crosstalk, or overlapping activity, shows research from V.S. Ramachandran, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego.
  2. The Pavlovian theory. Researchers in the 1960s showed a group of men images of naked women alongside images of boots, Lehmiller says. Eventually, the men became aroused by the images of boots all by themselves. So if you’re exposed to something repeatedly during times when you’re sexually aroused, your brain might come to link that object with sexual desire.
  3. The gross-out theory. “When you’re in a high state of sexual arousal, your disgust impulse weakens,” Lehmiller says. And so the things you’d normally find repulsive (feet, spit, feces) may not seem gross. “It’s almost like a heightened state of arousal changes your perception of the world,” Lehmiller adds. “And that changed perception might lead you to incorporate different things into your sexual acts.”
  4. The pain theory. Research has shown sexual pleasure and pain involve the release of many of the same brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin. These chemical ties may help form connections for some people that lead to an enjoyment of pain during sex.

Justin Lehmiller mentioned something else that piqued my interest:

“Most people who have a fetish can remember a distinctive time or event where they encountered something that unexpectedly but immediately turned them,”

When I was in 8th grade I was the teaching assistant to the P.E. teacher, Mr. Jones. My body was a bit late to the puberty party, so I had just started to experience super intense sexual attraction towards…men? That was a surprising turn of events. Anyways, every day I spent an entire class period in the boy’s locker-room sneaking glances at my classmates in various states of undress. It was exciting. And I grew to absolutely love the stale musky scent of deodorant, sweat, and male body odor.

A combination of the Pavlovian theory and the gross-out theory worked in conjunction to create a full on body odor / armpit kink for myself. To me, when a guy has body odor it is a sensory time machine and brings me right back to being incredibly aroused in that boys locker room.

Conclusion: why am I so attracted to bearded queens?

So here are the facts:

  • I am attracted to the physical attributes of masculinity
    • Due to my upbringing, masculinity meant survival. So subconsciously I learned that certain tell-tale signs of a “masculine” man (facial hair, hairy chest, muscles) were something to be coveted.
  • I am attracted to feminine personalities
    • I identify as a queer individual, so I don’t limit myself by displaying only masculinity or only femininity. Sometimes I feel more masculine, sometimes I feel very feminine. Because of this, I am highly attracted to flamboyancy and men who are unafraid and unapologetic about their femininity.
  • I have a kink for body odor
    • Like we just discussed, this is Because of my environment while going through puberty.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself and explore my own sexuality with you. While this blog post was largely for my own curiosity, I hope that you were able to gather some information and begin to ask yourself some questions about your own sexual preferences.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What physical attributes are you attracted to?
    1. Where does this come from
  2. What personality traits must be evident in a sexual partner for you?
    1. Does it mirror your own personality?
  3. Do you have a kink or fetish that can be explained by a specific event or events?
    1. Is it related to, or an extension of, the physical attributes you find attractive in another individual.

I would love to hear your own experiences. Feel free to write to me in the contact section of the wandering-wolfe blog.

 

Much love & many adventures,

Wolfe