There’s no doubt that Britain’s attitude toward sex has changed over the last few decades; the “No sex, we’re British” mantra has very much faded into the ether, to be replaced by a whole generation of young people for whom sex and sexuality is very much a part of their everyday lives. There is no longer any shame in enjoying sex, nor in being open about this; a person having multiple, even numerous, sexual partners is now a completely normal fact of life. More children are now born outside wedlock than inside it and though the idea of someone marrying their high school sweetheart is very sweet, the likelihood of that happening nowadays is about one in a thousand. And frankly, the idea that I should have married my first sexual partner is completely hilarious.
However, you see figures of the average number of sexual partners someone will have in their lifetime, which sits at around nine nowadays; even for the most chaste of homosexuals, this is a very low number, so why exactly do gay men have more sexual partners than their straight counterparts? Well I think the answer boils down to two simple facts; sex drive and marriage.
Secondly, let’s consider the old scaremongering “no sex before marriage” rule. For straight people, this has always been the idyllic value instilled by their parents and religion and society alike. "Sex should be between two people, within the constraints of marriage, for the purpose of procreation…" Well unfortunately for gay people, none of the above applies. Procreation is obviously out the window, marriage has only recently become a possibility and gay men have historically grown up setting their own ground-rules about sex. Maybe there will now be a whole generation of gay men growing up who start the abstinent “no sex before marriage” rule because they now have the freedom to, but I doubt the community could be that regressive. The point is this though: with no moral limits about what gay men could do, they have always done what they like. Of course there are those who have sexual ethics that resemble society’s ‘normal’ model, but without even a slight expectation to remain chaste, the majority of gay men don’t bother.
The question is, if it weren’t for society’s preconceived expectations about family values and sexual fidelity, would anyone actually adhere to those as ways of life? It’s arguable both ways; if you look at the animal world you will find species that mate for life and species that mate with multiple partners – which are humans in their natural state? Who knows? But obviously what sets us apart from animals is our ability to choose what we want to do, and while some may choose to mate for life, others may choose not to and I think that if we take away all of our historical, religious and societal expectations, 90% of us would choose the latter.
Now all this makes all gay men sound like sex-crazed pigs. Of course, to an extent, this is indeed the case for many people, but as usual I’m massively generalising. It is my experience though that says that the older someone gets, the more adventurous they become. If I remember the conversations my friends and I had about sex at 21 and compare them to the conversations I have now, inhibitions have vanished, limitations have dissolved and the people who were prudish and square could now be described as very open indeed. Straight people tend to settle down younger; the majority of people are in a long-term relationship by their mid-twenties, so this surely curbs that window for sexual experimentation that is only opened through exposure to different experiences, people and situations. So much credence is given to healthy sexuality now and with women in their sixties reading Fifty Shades Of Grey in their millions you would think that there was no stigma still attached to adventurous sexploits, but society has not come that far just yet that people are actually doing what they're so eagerly reading about. So as long as gay men decide to remove themselves from normality, without feeling that they need the husband, the house and the children, this open sexuality will continue, and straight people will always look at gays, some with a slight jealousy for them actually fulfilling their sexual fantasies, but for most with a slight distaste toward sexual exploration that they just could not relate to.