How do gay men have sex?
The latest book from David Ledain is called Having Gay Sex. A title like that gets our attention.
We caught up with David Ledain to talk about my favourite subject.
What was your inspiration for this book?
All my books are about filling a gap. I wrote a book called Gay Dad about men, who, like me, had married a woman and had kids and struggled to recognise their sexuality and how to navigate coming out to their wives and children, because I simply couldn’t find anything out there that told that story to men like me.
Similarly, my new book Having Gay Sex is about demystifying and de-sensationalising what men get up to when they have sex together, because I couldn’t find anything that told me the stories of the men who did.
Gay sexual behaviour is perfectly normal for a significant proportion of the male population, yet it is shrouded in mystery, and this is because, until now, it hasn’t been talked about, and when it has, it is usually in terms of it being dirty, degrading and ‘unnatural’.
Who’s the target audience for the book?
The book does come with a warning – the subject matter and narrative of the book is sexually explicit.
Any young man who thinks that to be gay he has to have anal sex, for instance, or he worries about cruising and the ‘rules’ of engagement, or how to give a blow-job, will get that information. But he will also read the stories of real men who explore all kinds of gay sexual activity, including kink, exhibitionism, naked healing and Tantric massage, and first time experiences.
But it is also a book for any gay man who wants to understand his sexuality and has perhaps thought about a certain activity and wants to know exactly what goes on – things like water-sports, sounding, fetish-wear, anal douching – so much stuff that we’re not told.
You’ve said that the book isn’t a How To guide, but it does get into the mechanics of different aspects of sex between guys. Is this more educational than porn?
I certainly wouldn’t want this book to be interpreted as porn or being pornographic, but it’s not dull in an educational sense.
It’s not a ‘How-to-guide’ in that there are no diagrams or instructions about which bit goes where, but rather a frank discussion, often with the men themselves, about what we all want to know – does anal sex mean pain that you simply have to deal with? Is cum-play safe? Do straight men get off watching other men ejaculate?
What was the research process you followed to put this book together?
Obviously, I brought my own experiences to the book, but I also researched the questions that kept popping up in my head and those that I thought other guys would have but that we simply don’t ask about for fear of being labelled or thought badly of.
My most revealing research was to speak to men who had first-hand experience of these things. It was eye-opening and fascinating.
Does this book give us a fairly comprehensive understanding of what normal gay sex looks like?
Yes, but what is normal? Is it any less normal to immerse oneself in a shadowy life of BDSM, or cruise in a sauna, or have an underwear fetish? All these things are normal for the men who love and embrace that side of their sexuality.
What do you hope that people feel when reading this book?
I hope they see that gay sex is, and can be, a wide spectrum of experiences. That they shouldn’t be ashamed or scared to try something new.
But also, and importantly, that men who do explore their sexuality in all these ways are perfectly ordinary guys, just like them.