Words by Liam Murphy @liamwaterloo

We talk a lot about sex at FS. Every article seems to be about the best way to get your cum cudgel away, expunging your joy juice and all sorts of other analogies (ANALogies – in case you didn’t get that cheap joke). 

But not this article. No, sir. This article is a ‘no bumming’ zone.

Wait! Come back! 

It can seem like all gay men are obsessed with the ass and that fucking is our raison d’être, but not everyone is as focused on anal-gazing as you might think. Is anal sex the be all of a gay man’s sex life? And what’s it like out there for those who say “no” to bum sex?

Trusting before a thrusting 

Anal sex is a deeply intimate thing – the deepness dependent on the guy of course. While to some fucking or getting fucked is a purely lust-driven experience and, to some extent, ‘no big deal’, to others it’s something very personal which requires an inordinate amount of trust in their sex-partner.

“Anal sex is a complete fantasy for me,” explains 37-year-old Edward. “I fantasise about being able to do it and having ‘fun’, but I just can’t treat it that way. I feel that it’s the ultimate sexual union a couple can have and I have conditioned my mind to only having anal sex with a loving partner.” But does that mean that Edward never gets any erotic action? “Not at all! I’ll lick every other part of a guy’s body! I just only have anal sex with someone who is important to me, once a commitment or relationship has been made. I’ll definitely be trying it again in the future, I’m fully versatile.”

Alex, 20, is still an anal virgin and he puts it down to how intimate the act is. “Well, I guess there’s something just a lot more intimate about anal sex compared with just fooling around. Having someone inside you or being inside someone, at least to me, implies quite a deep connection between two people that I’m uncomfortable with. I guess it comes down to me being a little afraid to trust someone that much. It takes a lot of trust to let someone fuck you for the first time. Not to mention, I’m quite worried about the pain and hygiene aspects of it as well. I guess I’ll just have to cross that bridge eventually.”

 “Anal sex is not the be all and end all of gay relationships,” says Andre Smith, a counsellor for Positive East, “Trust, love, sharing, nurturing, affection, emotional and psychological intimacy are all equally important factors. However, some men find anal sex to be an exciting and thrilling experience, while others consider it to be the highest form of physical intimacy achievable between two men. Clearly many gay men enjoy anal sex and make it a regular practice in their sex lives, but that does not mean that because some guys enjoy anal sex, so too should every other gay man.”

Keeping it clean

There’s no getting around it, bumming can be a hygiene minefield. It takes the right timing, douching and showering – for a bottom it’s never just a cum ‘n’ go experience, it’s a full-blown project. Because when the cleanliness is bad, it can lead to a really shitty time. Literally. 

 31-year-old Peter refuses to try anal based on the hygiene factors alone. “When I think about what’s involved and all the preparation needed, it’s just a huge turn-off for me. I like sex to be spontaneous and ‘in the moment’ but to have to plan in advance and with douching, it really does suck the fun out of it.” He explains that he once had a ‘messy’ experience that put him off for life. “I was fucking this guy and he obviously hadn’t prepped for the experience. Mess was all over the sheets when I pulled out. It stank and he wanted to carry on! I just wanted to throw-up! I think it has psychologically damaged me as, since then, I haven’t been able to fuck anyone. My mind flashes back to the image and the smell. I wish I could get over it.”

Justin Harbottle, Programme Officer at It Starts With Me, advises: “‘When it comes to douching, less is more. Rather then dislodging your partially digesting lunch with a small tsunami, just use a small amount of warm water from one of those little bulb-style douches. Oh, and trying to spring clean with any soaps is a big no no. It can irritate the lining of your arse, which can be painful, and make you more susceptible to getting STIs. It can be a pain to plan ahead but it saves embarrassment and the cost of washing powder in the long run! If something does happen, it’s no big deal – it can happen to the best of us. Just have a quick clean up, laugh it off and get back to it. I think it comes back to being relaxed and prepared – if you feel confident that you and your partner have prepped you won’t worry about it and enjoy the experience more.”

I’m just not that into you

Sometimes the reason behind the lack of behind is simple: it’s not a turn on. Anal sex can quite literally be a pain in the arse but luckily there are many different ways to be pleasured. It’s not for everyone and, as they aptly say, it’s different strokes for different folks.

Elliot, 32, admits that fucking isn’t top of his naked-fun list, “I do enjoy anal sex, but I’m uncomfortable topping with condoms as I find it difficult to cum, and topping without condoms means I generally cum too quickly, plus I’m HIV-positive in any case. I’m out of practice bottoming as I tend to hook up with bottom guys, so I find it pretty uncomfortable. I’m working on that, mind! I also suffer from IBS and bottoming tends to exacerbate that. All in all, anal sex really isn’t for me!”

“It’s just not that important to me,” claims 29-year-old Gregory. “It was never a big part of most of my sexual encounters in the past. Most of them didn’t involve anal and didn’t feel any less like sex. Me and my boyfriend have tried it a few times and it hasn’t gone very far. I just couldn’t get it to go in easily without a lot of pain and awkwardness for both of us. So we bought a couple of toys for ‘practise’, but they’ve fallen out of use. We’re happy enough doing other stuff. It doesn’t feel any less fulfilling. It doesn’t feel like our relationship is hanging on the fact that we’re not having anal sex.”

Andie, 26, agrees that full-on fucking isn’t really for him. “The main reason I don’t have anal sex is because I’ve never really enjoyed it. I’ve always felt uncomfortable during it and never been able to relax. It may have something to do with my first time. It was in a hotel room of a cheap budget chain, the condom split, he rushed off to find another one and was gone for 25 minutes, then we were too tired to carry on. I pretty much woke up the next morning to him trying to bum me. Not an ideal night.” He doesn’t let that stop a rampant sex life however. “Sexually I’m a bit of an oral whore; because I know it won’t go any further than that I spend my time pleasuring the other guy and making sure he gets some form of enjoyment!”

“There’s a lot more to sex then just nerve endings,” says Justin Harbottle from It Starts With Me. “It’s why one guy can be writhing around the bed when you play with his nipples, yet another will be pursing his lips like you just trod on his foot. Trying to force something you don’t enjoy can be the worst passion killer ever. Keep focusing on what you like, and maybe experimenting with other new things to add to your repertoire. At best, you may approach the anal issue from a better angle, at worst, you’ll be having too much fun doing other stuff to worry about whether you should be bumming or not.”

Bad experiences

As with what happened to Andie, one bad experience can put you off trying anal sex for a lifetime. It can be trickier than forgetting about it and moving on.

27-year-old Lucien’s first time being a bottom and a top made him realise that anal sex really wasn’t for him. “My first time bottoming was a disaster. It was with a guy I really liked but he just had no idea what he was doing. He was stabbing it in the wrong place, trying to shove it in all in one go. There was nothing I enjoyed! My experiences topping aren’t much better. I struggle keeping a hard-on for some reason and it’s embarrassing to push a soft dick into a hole, so I’ve just given up. I’m into S&M, leather and things anyway, so I get pleasure from very different aspects of sex.”

Sometimes the situation can be a lot more serious and lead to much more damage physically and mentally. 

“I was the victim of an attempted rape,” divulges Chris, 21. “I kind of repressed it pretty much as soon as it happened. I went on a date with a big bear type, after a particularly painful break-up. I wasn’t really in the best place at the time. The bear guy was a total dick, and talked very loudly in the coffee shop about the things he wanted to ‘do’ to me. When people glanced over he would just laugh and say ‘Fucking bitch will probably get off over it later’ and things like that. Stupidly, I decided to go back to his place. I still don’t really know why. He knew I hadn’t been fucked before so I assumed he didn’t expect that to happen. After a bit of rough fooling around, he had me pinned down and tried to push inside me. I was asking him to stop, because I didn’t want to and it hurt when he was trying to, but he just pinned my arms down and choked my neck. I think me resisting just made him want it more – which I used to think was really hot, when I was fantasising about it safe and alone in my bed. In reality, with a large and over powering stranger, it was really scary. Eventually I managed to spit in his face and kick him off me. I suffered a few punches for my ‘insolence’ but I managed to get my clothes back on and get out.” Chris admits it has affected hook-ups he’s had since. “As for how it’s affected me and my attitudes towards sex? I don’t know. I guess it’s made me a little bit more anxious about meeting guys who are dominant, which is what I used to think I wanted. I guess I’ll just be more careful and establish trust before putting myself in a situation where I could be dominated.”

Positive East’s Andre Smith believes you should never rush into things as a first-timer. “If a guy is trying anal sex for the first time, I’d certainly advise him to let his partner know, especially if he is going to be the receiver. Taking time and not rushing things can also determine the quality and eroticism of the experience. Equally important is being able to relax – which also means making sure you feel happy and at ease with the person you are with. Also remember that there’s no one right way to have anal sex, so don’t get anxious about doing it correctly – go with the flow of your own senses. Never let anyone force you to do anything or take advantage.”

App-lying expectations

As is stated in every gay-themed article in every gay magazine published post-2010, mobile dating apps have made it much easier for gay men to find sex. This is obviously wonderful, but it has brought with it a refined way of searching for a hook-up, which can mean men can look for one thing only.

“Apps are all about fucking!” believes Robin, 25. “If you’re looking for anything else, a quick wank or blow job, it’s much harder to find. People seem to either be looking to fuck or get fucked. There’s a huge pressure to bend over and for someone like me who doesn’t really rate anal, it can be frustrating. I must admit,  I’ve let a guy fuck me because I thought he was hot even though I wasn’t that into it.”

FS editor Ian Howley says, “Before the introduction of sex/dating apps most people had to either pop into their local woods or nearest public toilet for some quick one-on-one action. In a lot of cases this involved mainly oral and hand jobs. Very few people fucked. Now with the use of these apps people are fucking more on meet-ups. This has put pressure on guys, who may not feel comfortable having anal sex, to do it.” 

Not everyone should have anal sex and not everyone wants it. There’s so much to try on the sex buffet (a rim-job vol-au-vent anyone?) that bumming needn’t be the obvious jizz-generating ‘go to’, a sentiment echoed (more eloquently) by Andre at Positive East. “A good number of gay men, especially younger guys, struggle with societal pressures which lead them to believe that a critical part of being a gay man is the practice of anal sex, and they end up believing that anal sex is something they should be enjoying simply because they are attracted to other men. These are false and unnecessary pressures that lead some gay men, reluctantly, into having anal sex so as not to stand out from the rest of the gay community – one man’s pleasure can often be another man’s pain! Rather than worrying about what kind of sex we think we should be having with our partners, more important – and natural – is to work out a healthy and satisfying sexual dynamic that fits both. Rather than conforming to the often unrealistic expectations of the gay community, and indeed of our wider culture, listen to the evidence of your own senses and you may just surprise yourself in discovering what really makes you tick, sexually.”

FS editor Ian Howley adds: “Sex is sex and sex is what you want it to be. If you are happy with just oral, that’s fine. If you are happy with only wanking, that’s fine. And if you are happy with anal, that’s fine too. But you need to do what you want and not what you think you should do. If anal is not your thing, for whatever reason, then that’s your choice and others need to respect that. It’s your body, your sex life. You are in control.” 

 FS says:  It’s not just about HIV

 No matter what sexual act you are doing, there’s a risk of getting an STI. HIV is the ‘big one’ because it’s incurable. Once you have it, you have it for life. But there are many more STIs out there, some of which you can get even if you don’t have anal sex. And none of them are  nice to have to deal with. Here’s what you need to know about…


Gonorrhoea, or ‘the clap’, is a bacterial infection of the urethra (the tube you piss out of), arse, throat or eyes. It can be passed on by rimming, sucking cock, fucking or getting fucked without a condom.


Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. It is most commonly passed on by fucking or getting fucked without a condom, but it can also be passed on by sucking cock or rimming.


Crabs are usually transferred during naked body contact (yes, we mean sex). Less often, they can be caught from infested bedding, clothes and towels.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is found in shit and is acquired by getting shit in your mouth. This can happen through sex acts such as rimming or sucking someone’s cock after unprotected sex.

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus is in blood, cum, piss, spit and shit, as well as other body fluids of a person who’s infected. The virus can be spread by sharing needles, sharing snorting straws, unprotected sex, or by getting blood or infected cum in your mouth, eyes, or on to broken skin.

Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus is present primarily in blood (including dried blood) and can also be present in cum. Traditionally injecting drug use was the most common way to catch hepatitis C but it is now known that unprotected sex, particularly high risk sex and group sex, is associated with hep C infection. In particular HIV-positive gay men are getting hepatitis C sexually. However, this does not mean HIV-negative guys are not at risk from unprotected sex or sharing sex toys. 


Herpes is a virus that is spread by skin to skin contact. There are two forms of herpes: HSV-1, which causes cold sores around the mouth, and HSV-2, or genital herpes, which leads to sores around the cock and arse. You can get herpes by kissing, sucking cock, rimming, fucking without condoms and even frottage! You can also get it by sharing sex toys. Cold sores on your mouth can be spread to another person’s cock or arse, and genital herpes can be spread to the mouth.


Syphilis is a bacterial infection which is most usually transmitted through fucking without a condom and cock-sucking, but which can also be caught through rimming, fisting and even through skin to skin contact (although this is rare). 

How to prevent STIs and HIV

Condoms: Using condoms while having sex is still one of the best ways to avoid picking up any STIs or becoming HIV-positive. And don’t forget the lube. Condoms break up to 6% of the time, but using plenty of water-based lube can help prevent this.  

For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/condoms-and-lube.

PrEP: PrEP is medication you can take to prevent HIV but it does not prevent other STIs. When taken correctly it can prevent 99% of HIV transmissions.   

For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/prep

HIV undetectable: If you are living with HIV and undetectable then taking your medication will keep you undetectable. This means the levels of HIV is so low in your body that it's impossible for you to transmit HIV during sex. 

For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/hiv-undetectable

Test for STIs:  All sexually active gay men should test for STIs at least once a year. If you are having sex with new partners then you should test more frequently. Test for HIV too when you’re there. It takes about two weeks for most STIs and four weeks for HIV to show up in a test. 

For more information or to find your nearest GUM clinic, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/clinics.

For more information on STIs and how to prevent them, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/stis.

 Useful links:

Wanking tips: www.gmfa.org.uk/wanking-techniques.

How to give a guy a blow job: www.gmfa.org.uk/how-to-give-a-guy-a-blow-job.

How to get fucked: www.gmfa.org.uk/how-to-get-fucked.

How to fuck: www.gmfa.org.uk/how-to-fuck.

Pain while getting fucked: www.gmfa.org.uk/pain-when-getting-fucked.

Messy sex and douching: www.gmfa.org.uk/messy-sex-and-douching.

Condoms and lube: www.gmfa.org.uk/condoms-and-lube.

Know your arse for better sex: www.gmfa.org.uk/know-your-arse-for-better-sex.

To buy cheap condoms and lube, visit the Freedoms shop at: www.freedoms-shop.com.

This article was taken from FS magazine issue 143. 

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