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Anal sex is not a prerequisite for being a gay man. Conversely, being a gay man is not a mandate for enjoying anal sex. Many gay men do not have anal sex. In fact, oral sex and mutual masturbation are more common than anal stimulation among gay men in long-term relationships.

The prevalence of anal sex among homosexual couples in the West has varied over time. Magnus Hirschfeld, in his 1914 work, “The Homosexuality of Men and Women”, reported the rate of anal sex among homosexual men surveyed to be 8%, the least favored of all the practices documented. Likewise, some scholars state that oral sex and mutual masturbation are more common than anal stimulation among gay men in long-term relationships and that, in general, anal intercourse is more popular among homosexual male couples than among heterosexual couples, but that “it ranks behind oral sex and mutual masturbation” among both sexual orientations in prevalence.

By the 1950s in the United Kingdom, it was thought that about fifteen percent of male homosexuals had anal sex. More recent studies, The Gay Urban Men’s Study and the Young Men’s Study, indicate that 50% of the surveyed men who have sex with men engage in anal sex. The 1994 Laumann study suggests that 80% of gay men practice it and 20% never engage in it at all.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), with information published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), states that two thirds of gay men have anal sex. Other sources suggest that roughly three-fourths of gay men have anal sex at one time or another in their lives, with an equal percentage participating as tops and bottoms. A survey in The Advocate in 1994 indicated that 46% of gay men preferred to penetrate their partners, while 43% preferred to be the receptive partner. A survey conducted from 1994 to 1997 in San Francisco by the Stop AIDS Project indicated that over the course of the study, among men who have sex with men, the proportion engaging in anal sex increased from 57.6% to 61.2%

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