My husband is having sex with men, but he says he’s not gay. What does that mean?

My husband is having sex with men, but he says he’s not gay. What does that mean?

Men who have sex with men (MSM) is a term that dates back to at least 1990. According to the National Institutes of Health, the acronym MSM (and more recently, WSW, or women who have sex with women), was used in medical research to get around the problem that the stigma associated with AIDS created in getting accurate information. The AIDS stigma was unfairly attached to gay men and lesbians and that association impeded accurate data gathering, which further impeded getting medical assistance to those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Today the terms are controversial because they imply a rejection of a gay or lesbian identity (and the broader LGBT+ community) by the person engaging in the same sex sexual behavior.

Still more controversially, other professionals argue that men can have sex with men (or WSW) and still identify as straight or heterosexual. They believe men are more sexually fluid than our culture acknowledges. Whether or not this theory is accurate, this can be very confusing for the Straight Partner who is trying to understand the implications of their partner’s same-sex sexual behavior for their own relationship.

While labels and identities are still in flux, focus on behavior. Is there still a healthy intimate connection between both partners in the relationship? If yes, then the partner acting on same-sex attraction may indeed be bi-sexual. If no, then it is possible the non-straight partner is not heterosexual. Either way, it may be time to explore these issues more deeply in a therapeutic setting.


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