Why Some Straight Men Are Romantically or Sexually Attracted to Other Men

By Joe Kort | Posted Aug 19 2013 | 26 Comments  

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of briefly speaking with psychotherapist and author Dr. Joe Kort.  Dr. Kort has appeared on The Tyra Banks Show, The Montel Williams Show and Oprah & Friends Radio to name a few.  I was requesting his permission to re-post an article he authored for the Huffington Post.  His article Why Some Straight Men Are Romantically or Sexually Attracted to Other Men, I feel is extremely insightful and thought provoking and I wanted to share it with the Cypher Ave audience.  In the article he briefly states a variety of reasons why many types of men engage in same-sex relationships. I loved the fact how the subject matter was from the perspective of a professional therapist in tuned with male sexuality.   Check out the article below and as always, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. 

-Ocky Williams

Why Some Straight Men Are Romantically or Sexually Attracted to Other Men

I recently wrote a blog post about the music video for singer-songwriter Steve Grand’s song “All-American Boy,” in which a gay man falls in love with a straight man and they share a quick kiss. In that post I addressed why gay men might be attracted to straight men, but that question raises another: Why might a straight man be romantically or sexually attracted to other men? Why did the straight guy in the video kiss the gay guy back, after all?

The following scenario happens many times: A man comes into my office, referred by his own therapist and clutching coming-out literature that the therapist has given him. He explains that his therapist has tried, unsuccessfully, to help him come out as gay or bisexual, but even though he’s had sex with other men or gone to gay porn websites, he insists that he isn’t gay. He says that he isn’t homophobic either; if it turns out that he is indeed gay or bisexual, he’ll accept it and move on with his life, but the label just doesn’t feel right to him.

During the last three decades, in reaction to prejudiced and destructive anti-gay attitudes, we’ve seen the pendulum swing so far in the other direction that it’s now become almost a therapeutic credo, not to mention a requirement of political correctness, to assume that men who have sex with men are “in denial” and need help to recognize and accept their “true” homosexual orientation. In fact, neither extreme represents the experience of many men. The truth is that many men who have sex with men aren’t gay or even bisexual. Although their mental and emotional state resembles that of the initial stages of coming out, gay and bisexual men go on to develop a gay or a bisexual identity, whereas these men don’t.

When I write about straight men who are attracted to or having sex with other men, I receive numerous negative responses, mostly from gay men who have lived in the closet, convincing themselves that they were straight, and may have even had relationships or marriages with women. “You are keeping these men closeted and harming them!” they shout at me. But what these gay men don’t realize is that I am not talking about men like them. These gay men were suppressing an identity: a sexual and romantic identity of being gay. These are not the men I am addressing here.

In 2008 I started Straight Guise, a website and blog open to all who wish to read, post comments and have a dialogue about men who have sex with men. It explores the many reasons that men have sex with other men, only some of which have anything to do with homosexuality or bisexuality.

Many types of men engage in same-sex relationships, for a variety of reasons, which I will identify for you. Here are a few of them:

  • Acting out early-childhood sexual abuse: This is also known as “homosexual imprinting.” These heterosexual men are not homosexually oriented. They do not sexually desire, nor are they aroused by, other men. However, they compulsively reenact childhood sexual abuse by male perpetrators through their sexual behaviors with other men. If a basically heterosexual boy is molested by a male relative, he may keep “returning to the scene of the crime” to defuse his emotional pain or desensitize himself to it. When his original trauma gets cleared up, the “homosexual” behavior he’s reenacting ceases. This isn’t about gayness; it is about sexual abuse.
  • Sex work or escorting: These heterosexual men voluntarily engage in sexual behavior with other men for the financial reward, but they lack desire for other men and are aroused by the sexual behavior, not by the man. It is widely known in the porn and sex work industries that straight men who have sex with men are paid more than they would be for sex with women.
  • Seeking intensely arousing but personally shameful experiences (e.g., penetration by a dildo, bondage): These are heterosexual men who are strongly interested in various sexual experiences that many people might label “homosexual.” To avoid being identified in this way by women, they seek out men, whom they perceive as nonjudgmental.
  • First sexual experience: Sometimes heterosexual males experiment with other males sexually, usually in adolescence and/or young adulthood (up to age 25), for the experience or to satisfy curiosity.
  • Availability/opportunity: These straight men have high sex drives and are sexually aroused easily. They connect with men for physical sexual release, which can be quick and easy and allows them avoid having to emotionally engage.
  • Father hunger: These are heterosexual men who crave affection and attention from their fathers and seek sex with men as a way of getting that male nurturance and acceptance.
  • Sexual orientation toward men but emotional/romantic orientation toward women: These are men who are romantically attracted to women and are usually partnered with women. They can be sexual with women they love, but they are predominately aroused and driven sexually by desire for sex with other men.
  • Narcissism: These are straight men who are self-absorbed and have a constant need for attention and acceptance; they use sexuality with men to be worshipped and adored.
  • Sexual addiction: “Gay” behavior can be the result of sexual addiction. But even a “cured” sex addict may still feel attracted to men, as do celibate gay priests.
  • Cuckolding: These straight men enjoy fantasies of — or the reality of — their female partners having sex with other men, either in front of them, nearby or with their knowledge about when and where it occurs. They’re often sexually aroused by feeling humiliated that their female partners are being pleased by another man whom they see as more potent and better endowed. Other men enjoy being sexual with another man’s female partner in front of him, or at least with his knowledge. Sometimes they engage in sexual behavior with the man, but only in the presence of the female partner.
  • Exhibitionism: These straight men enjoy being looked at by both men and women as long as they are being admired for their bodies. Many are body builders and muscular and enjoy the homoerotic attention of gay men and might even flirt with gay men to encourage more admiration.
  • Sexual release in prison: These straight men engage in sexual behavior with other men in prison. Their sexual release with another person occurs with men only because men are what’s available. Once released from prison, these men no longer engage in sexual behavior with men.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons that some straight men might engage in sexual behavior with other men. In any case, it’s crucial to give each man who has sex with men information about homosexuality, bisexuality and the coming-out process, sexual abuse, sexual addiction, family-of-origin issues, and mood disorders that could contribute to the desire to have sex with men. However, it’s up to the man himself to decide if his interest in sex with other men is the beginning of the coming-out process, a sign of early sexual abuse, a sexual addiction, or some other form of acting out. It could also just be that once-in-a-while sex with men is something that a man might want and means nothing more than that. As Freud is often said to have remarked, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!”

Joe Kort, Ph.D., LMSW
Certified Sex and Relationship Therapist

About the Author

Gay Therapist Joe Kort, M.A. M.S.W, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Royal Oak specializing in individual, group and couples therapy, gay and lesbian issues, sexual abuse, sexual addiction and IMAGO relationship therapy.

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26 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. Kasule | August 19th, 2013

    Okay. Good to know.

    This list does help: I know these two dudes who are married to women – but prefer to hang out in gay bars. And their wives know. Maybe it’s because they dudes are from Holland; I don’t know. But it does sometimes sketch me out – given all the hooking up at the bar and the wife and kids at home. Awkward.

  2. LEE B | August 19th, 2013

    I read this when it came out on the Huffington Post. It made me think back to playing football and how the supposedly straight dudes were always trying to grab nipples, asses and crotches… And they thought it was all funny.

    • Drewski_ | August 19th, 2013

      Aaaahh..takes me back to the good ol’ days of playin football as a freshman in HS. That kinda stuff was almost daily, & occasionally raised an eyebrow.
      I never liked gettin smacked on the ass tho, like, at all….but somehow, a number of em thought that was funny for reasons unknown..134038682542.png

  3. Eric | August 19th, 2013

    Although he shouldn’t be attacked, his arguments also shouldn’t be accepted just because he’s a therapist. Not even a gay therapist. Remember, it was the psychiatric community that once called homosexuality a disease.

    I’ll concede that the Kinsey scale of sexuality might support some of the points about experimentation, exhibitionism, and narcissism. However, the rest of his arguments reinforce gay stereotypes: No daddy. Bored because no women are around. Or, in prison, a hole is a hole.

    Prison rape is an epidemic so severe that President George W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. Prison sex is only a gay fantasy in porno films. And how many of our friends with both parents in the home still turned out gay anyway?

    As for the boredom thing, well, pardon the expression, but some of my best friends are straight. Now, straight boys are kinda funny. But let me tell you how they’re NOT funny. Straight guys don’t fuck each other just ’cause nothing good is on tv. If they’re bored and horny, they seek out women. Not men.

    Isn’t this article just a regurgitation of the down low thing when men couldn’t bear to call themselves bi-sexual or gay so somebody made up a new name for them?

    Doesn’t this article support myths about being gay, like rape or lack of women, instead of coming into the new world of genetic predisposition? Doesn’t this fuel the ex-gay movement which is a massive statistical failure?

    • hannibal
      Hannibal | August 19th, 2013

      I think the article does more harm than good. It’s pretty much saying that partaking in gay activities is a choice. I’m also put off by the molestation angle because it does nothing but perpetuate the stereotype that gays become gays because they were abused.

      • ptseti | August 19th, 2013

        @Hannibal…I don’t think that’s what he was saying….Gays do not necessarily become gays because of abuse….he is saying they revisit the crime that happened and so act out on it -most times no penetration but a close male bonding is enough for them…sometimes not even mutual masturbation is done … they sleep with, hug, caress, feel genitals etc etc. But its REAL…the article only expresses the brutal truth…we all have a different orientation.

      • C-Dotti | September 21st, 2013

        I don’t think it’s perpetuates anything because most men who have been sexually abused are not out about it. This topic is still very much so swept under the rug.

    • SB3000 | August 19th, 2013

      U know what, after reading this article, I came to the comments section ready to get turnt up, but u were all ready speaking my language man.

      I feel like this is almost the equivalent of blk ppl never wanting to be ‘just’ black. Its like, Im not black, black, cus my great grandma was half white. Or my grandfather was black n cherokee. Go on and be biracial, or multiracial, or whatever title u want, but guess what, u woulda been out in the field w Harriet Tubman nem too.

      I may be oversimplifying in this overall analogy, but come on. How u gon be like, ‘Im not gay or bi, I just fuk w men becus im a narcissistic, sex addict w daddy issues.’ O, ok…

      • Eric | August 19th, 2013

        HA! I love the Tubman reference, @sb3000 And yes there are shades of gray in life. But this b.s. is mainly dedicated to guys who want to make up new names for water without actually calling it “wet.”

  4. ptseti | August 19th, 2013

    GOOD READ..I agree with him 100% as I know or have met one of each person described. There is another type- the more mature guy who has been married for years to the same woman, has never ‘cheated’ on her except with another man. He does not see it as cheating either. That type of heterosexual no longer gets fulfillment from the physical attraction with his wife and so goes out and chooses a male to satisfy his sexual desires. He does not identify as gay neither does he have an emotional attachment with the male….its pure sex.

    Its also different from the type he describes as he is no longer emotionally attracted to his wife either – he supports her and takes care of her as she is the mother of his children, the partner he has made a life with. He lives with her , sleeps in the same bed , communicates with her, live a ‘normal’ life with her but no emotion . I call that type the ‘pussy tired’ male.

    This type of male is up front in his sexual needs, comes over to your place for sex, and goes home to his wife who he hardly has sex with either. The wife , I believe, is getting her sexual pleasure from a young buck…to which he may or may not suspect and he certainly does not mind. Life is so complicated.

    • SB3000 | August 19th, 2013

      The only thing that could even BEGIN to validate either of those ‘types’ as not being gay/bi, is the defining of what ‘gay/bi’ mean. I read something recently, maybe even on here, about how gay is seen more as a lifestyle, than a sexual orientation. I dont care if dude is still fukn his wife or not, the fact is that his wife cant give him what another man can, and vise versa. He’s still, SEEKING, out sex w men. And he can call himself an ostrich, or a horse if he wants, but he cant act crazy when the rest of us call him gay or bisexual.

      STRAIGHT men dont have sex w men! We’re not talking about adolescence, or even teenage curiosity and secret behaviors, we’re talkin about grown men. The only ones who get conditional, sitch by sitch passes are the ones doin long ass bids. That weekend stint down at county dont count.

      • Dre G | August 20th, 2013

        Gay is a lifestyle,homosexuality is my orientation

        Im the one who said that.
        (I also said i use gay for the sake of conversation bcuz im not in denial)

        i even with that rationale,same sex attraction doesnt means you are definitely not straight. to me it’s like when a person is mixed with black and white.they may not want to say they are black,but they gotta realise,they most certainly are not white.i think that concept goes over the heads of the kind of dudes @ptseti described

        You and @nick have my favorite avatars

      • Dre G | August 20th, 2013

        Gay is the culture or lifestyle around being homosexual
        I said that
        I also said i still use them interchangable in conversation because I acknowledgw that I am in no way shape or form straight,not even bi.

        I think the kind of dudes ptseti mentioned fail to realise this about themselves.kind of like when somene is mixed with black and white.if they dont feel blk i always say “u certainly arent white, so…”

      • ptseti | August 21st, 2013

        @SB3000 …”STRAIGHT men don’t have sex w men…” that is a pretty careless statement you made there….I Would not put my money on that statement unless you are willing to loose a few dollars.

        Human beings are complex , complicated organisms that you cannot put in a box. Stranger things have happened are are happening and there is no explanation for it. I understand where you are coming from- you have already rationalized and categorized sexual behavior to satisfy your curiosity. For me it goes deeper than that.

        As @Jonah Darnell rightly says..“ What if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck but then barks like a dog and wags its tail like a dog!?!?! What the hell do we call that!?!? What the hell does it call itself!?

        Labeling is for canned foods. Lets look beyond the labeling and try and understand the strange phenomenon that mankind is trying to understand called human sexuality.

        • SB3000 | August 21st, 2013


          No, Im just willing to call a spade a spade. If a married/committed man who no longer cares to smash his wife/girl, is all turnt up when its time to go smash some dude, but hes still ‘str8’, well…he can call himself whatever he wants, cus he got more issues than i care to get into w him.

          Any1 can call themselves whatever they want, but if u fall into any of the ‘other’ categories, ur not heterosexual. (I had to be proper since all of us grown ass men who know how to log into myvidster in a heartbeat dont know what we mean by straight n gay).

          Can we just stop tryin to do so damn much all of the damn time. Next thing you know, we’ll be having the trysexual rights movement, fighting for the right to try sex w anyone, as if thats not all ready a damn right.

          Bottom line, aint nobody here to make a man who gets boners for other men feel better about it. Thats a personal journey.

    • Just D. Fax | April 8th, 2016

      The concept of “father hunger” was a Freudian concept which was disproved decades ago. Any therapist who is still promoting this tripe is a con artist. The Psychological Association defines sexual orientation in terms or a person’s EMOTIONAL and PHYSICAL ATTRACTION. Therefore any guy who has an emotional or physical attraction to other men is not straight. He is either gay or bisexual. Apparently Mr. Kort either missed that lesson in Psychology 101 or he is intentionally misleading and misinforming people to sell his books.

  5. ControlledXaos
    Black Pegasus | August 19th, 2013

    I guess this article will give you “bisexuals” a rallying call.
    I think this article is batshit crazy.

  6. Jonah Darnell | August 20th, 2013

    This article is just what people need to read if they are truly interested in sexuality as a psychological phenomenon (cause let’s be honest, it is…). These are not “excuses” listed in Dr. Kort’s article, they are possible explanations as to why you might see certain behavior in individuals although they might not identify with said behavior. A very interesting point to add is that these possibilities also serve as an explanation of how/why people come to self identify as gay or bisexual.

    It is truly gestalt thinking that forces us to see individuals as these all or nothing beings. Trust, the human being is far too complex for the antiquated binary. People subsist on a spectrum of human behavior. So we cannot always indentify a whole being by identifying one of its experiential parts.

    What the ultimate argument ends up being is one of language- “The words you choose to indentify yourself aren’t the words I or society would choose to indentify you.” Would you call a person who has tried their hand at writing poetry a few times in their life a poet? Or is the true logic for understanding behavior akin to the old adage, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck its a damn duck!” What if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck but then barks like a dog and wags its tail like a dog!?!?! What the hell do we call that!?!? What the hell does it call itself!?

    Face it, people are people with highly complex psyches…

    Ahhhh, just Google the damn Klein Sexual Orientation Grid lol

  7. Drewski_ | August 20th, 2013

    @ockydub, I appreciate that u tossed in the link to the author’s other blog post…thank u! Cuz thaaaaat one struck a lil bit more closer to home…(not to veer away from this article’s main point, but I’m just sayin tho)

  8. Rox808 | August 21st, 2013

    Im not so sure I can agree with men having sex with men or even just having a homosexual relationship and still consider them straight. I feel it kind of contradicts itself. I do believe some of the points in the article, the sexual abuse, the “gay for pay”. But to engage in a “relationship” with another man and still label themselves straight just doesn’t connect. If you are going into it with just a sexual desire than that would make sense. Everyone in some form or fashion is attracted to both sexes. But a relationship, I think, would categorize the category you are in. Although im not a huge fan of labels, it does serve a purpose of providing more of a self identity.

  9. bpaisle
    Byron P. | August 21st, 2013

    I’m not really sure how to feel about this article. I think that there are a lot of truths but there are also some things that I do not agree with. For the most part, it is not like he is the end all to be all when it comes to this subject. We do not have to accept his reasons as fact nor did he say that we have to. He is not saying that his reasons should be taken as fact. He said that they were possible reasons as to why a “straight” guy would engage in homesexual activity. I’m gay and its not for any these reasons that he listed. I’m gay just because I am.
    Sidebar Opinion: Some of the reasons he listed are just crap. I know what narcissism means and nowhere have I read that having sex with other guys is a side effect. Being sexually attracted to men but romantically attracted to women is complete bullshit to me. If you can only be sexual with women that you love with but you’d rather have sex men, then, in my eyes, your gay. I do not think that exhibitionism is a viable reason, at all, enough said. Availability/opportunity is an iffy one for me just because I do not have this problem. I’m a younger guy so my sex drive is high but I could not imagine it being high enough to make me have sex with somebody that I am not attracted, whether it be a man or a woman.

  10. Architextured | August 28th, 2013

    A very interesting article – thanks for sharing with us, Ocky.

    Like fellow Cypher Ptseti, I agree with the blog author.

    It has been my personal experience that for every self-identifying ‘gay’, ‘straight’, ‘bisexual’ person out there, there are many others who
    1) don’t relate to those labels themselves, and
    2) *I* wouldn’t label as ‘gay’, ‘straight’, or bisexual.
    I’m thinking right now of several examples from my life: the roommate, who often joined me at gay bars (and I with him at straight bars), who got a blow job from a guy when he was drunk once; a friend who had been married to a woman for almost a decade, but grew attracted to me over a 6-month period (we ultimately had sex, but he is now married to another woman – he never denies what we had (I’m more guilty of that), but he says he has only ever wanted to have sex with one guy: me, no other guys, and I believe him); and the colleague, who tried to seduce me at a party, but just once (we talked about it a week later – he basically explained it as a ‘whim’, and he’s also happily married to a woman now).

    My point? None of these men are, by my definition, “gay” or “bisexual”. Nor do any of them label themselves that way. Why did they do what they did? Perhaps for the reasons stated in the article, or maybe not.

    Damn, not enough characters left…consider this part one…

  11. Architextured | August 28th, 2013

    …as I was saying:

    I noticed other Cyphers comparing sexual identity to race…I have a black African father and a white New Zealand mother. Once, an Algerian man in Budapest asked me about my ethnic background. After I explained:
    Him: “Ah, so you are African”.
    Me: “My father is, but my mother isn’t, and I wasn’t raised in Namibia – just my dad was”.
    Him: *tuts* “No no – your father is African, so YOU are African”.

    That. Pissed. Me. Off.

    Anyone who looks at me will see the colour of my skin,the texture of my hair, the shape of my nose and lips, and easily understand that I am not white. If you ask me, I will happily and PROUDLY tell you about my ethnic background (looking at my surname will also give you a clue that I am of African descent). So, I certainly don’t try and pass as being not African.
    But when that man made that comment to me in Budapest, I felt like he was effectively dismissing my mother – the woman who raised me (parents divorced), taught me her culture and gave me 50% of my DNA.

    For me, one race doesn’t ‘trump’ the other. Am I black or white? Actually, I identify as mixed. If you chose to see me as ‘black’, well, there is nothing wrong in being called ‘black’ – except that in my case, that label doesn’t reflect how I see myself.

    By extension, if we label any man who has any kind of consensual sexual experience with another man as ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’, then I believe we gloss over the finer details…life isn’t…

  12. C-Dotti | September 21st, 2013

    In ancient times the bond between men took precedence over the bond between a man and his wife. Men developed intense relationships with each other, died on the battle field for one another. Men hugged each other, kissed each other and even bathed together. I’m not saying they were gay, but it speaks to the natural bond between men and the admiration they had for one another. When you have a bond that strong it’s very possible for lines to get crossed. It’s something to consider because men today are struggling and fighting their natural desires due to modern day concepts. Men today are not living in their natural habitat so to speak. In ancient times a man could hug another man and even kiss him on the lips (no tongue) and not be questioned. Something to think about.

  13. Zion MarQuiese Devereaux | February 1st, 2014

    Any man that is having regular sexual escapades with another man you are gay- period.
    They can save all that other b.s.
    To keep it 100 some of these dudes claim “bisexual” because it improves their “market” value.
    But we live in a society where our “elite” will create any title they deem necessary to allow people to be comfortable in their confusion.

  14. Brandito
    Brandito | March 8th, 2015

    I agree with this. I’m strange among my friends because I believe that a man can have a homosexual experience with another man and it doesn’t make him gay, nor will it happen again.

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