The New Joy of Gay Sex


From Free Life, Issue 19, November 1993
ISSN: 0260 5112

The New Joy of Gay Sex
Dr Charles Silverstein and Edmund White
The Gay Men’s Press, London, 1993, 220 pp., £16.95
(ISBN 0 85449 214 3)
Reviewed by Sean Gabb

I did think of turning this review into a plea for the toleration of sexual differences. But where homosexuals are concerned, I suspect I am about a decade too late. I will not claim that they have today no justified grievances. The criminal and civil law of this country embodies a mass of prejudice which ranges from the petty to the viciously destructive. Even so, the argument for removing that prejudice has been largely won in the minds of those who matter. There are very few middle class people left who regard homosexuality as something abominable – as justifying an exclusion that amounts to social death, or even as justifying the slightest legal disability.

Of course, such people do still exist. But they are the despised minority. They are the ones often excluded from polite society. They are even the ones whom this journal may soon be defending from a legal persecution.

This being said, I will deny my readers an unnecessary effusion, and move directly to consider the merits of this book.

These, I must say, are considerable. I missed the original Joy of Gay Sex, which according to Edmund White’s Preface was thrown quickly together in 1977. But I do know people who read it and whose lives were transformed as it helped them to throw off the shackles of a guilt they had never before questioned. 15 years’ later, and the book’s message is necessarily more complex, less immediately joyous. We can no longer believe that sexual pleasure is easily and safely available for anyone who will only dare to reach out and claim it. Yet, though written in the shadow of AIDS – Mr White has been HIV positive for some time – this new edition is, quite simply, the best thing I have ever read about homosexuality and homosexual acts. For anyone who is a homosexual, or wants to know what homosexuals are and exactly what they do, it is an essential book.

Arranged as an encyclopædia, its subjects include: Anus, Blow Job, Bondage, Coming Out, Domestic Violence, Gyms, Insurance, Nipples, Rape, Scat, Suicide, Water Sports, Wills, and much, much more. The writers know what they are writing about, giving what in some cases I suspect to be their personal experiences. And they do not rant. This is an inestimable quality in such a work. I have taken up much else on the subject that has been made unreadable by a hectoring or even hysteical tone. Here, the tone is throughout cool and informative. Advice is given. Warnings are offered. Praise and blame are awarded where the writers think appropriate. But this is not a book of sermons.

To give a flavour of its contents, I quote from the article on Phone Sex:

There’s no truth in advertising on the phones. Almost everyone entices with exaggerated descriptions of themselves. Any cock that measures from four to seven inches will be described as eight inches long; it’ll be cut or uncut, depending upon what the owner thinks you want to hear. If it’s actually eight inches, the proud possessor will proudly proclaim it a nine- or ten-inch whammer. He may even have given his cock a name in honour of its imposing size, although no one to our knowledge has yet catalogued the nicknames of people’s peckers. Just as additions are made to cock size, subtractions are made from age. The general rule appears to be a five-year discount, so a thirty- year-old claims to be twenty-five, and so on up the line. On the other hand, young guys, from the teens to the young twenties, sometimes increase their age by a few years in order not to frighten away older gentlemen (in their thirties).

Other physical descriptions are equally inaccurate. A man who describes himself as a football player is probably overweight. The caller’s claim to have a swimmer’s body my be interpreted to mean that he’s thin, perhaps very thin – quite unlike swimmers’ bodies these days. (p. 140)

Again, I quote from the article First Time:

One note of caution. Fingers, dildoes and cocks can be pleasurable and are safe. Never put anything else up your ass. No glass bottles, sweet potatoes, or other exotic objects. They may elude your grasp, get lost in your intestines, and may require major surgery (see Sex Toys). You should prepare in a number of ways for getting fucked the first time. Physically, all you need to do is to clean yourself out with an enema. you should also have condoms ready, and always insist your partner use them. We strongly advise you not to drink alcohol heavily or to use mind-altering drugs at this time. They may interfere with good judgment about safe sex (see Booze and Highs). Choose a lubricant that contains nonoxynol-9. Lubricate your asshole and the outside of your partner’s condom liberally. You may also want to have your favourite jerk-off lubricant handy, to work on your own dick while getting fucked (see Condoms; Lubricants; Safe Sex). (p. 68)

Yet again, I quote from the article on Sex with Animals:

The Chinese were constantly accused of having ‘love affairs with geese’. Both Sir Richard Burton (the English explorer) and Paolo Mantegazza (an Italian anthropologist) were accused of fucking geese and wringing the necks of the animals at the moment of ejaculation so as to ‘get the pleasurable benefit of the anal sphincter’s last spasms in the victim’. French farmers were said to do the same; they claimed to have learned the sex practice from the English. And sex with animals is probably the only thing never blamed on the Italians.” (p. 171)

I ought also to mention the illustrations, by F. Ronald Fowler and Deni Ponty. These are very well drawn, and are both instructive and pornographic. Indeed, with their representation of just about every likely age, shape, racial type, and sexual act, there may be something here for every taste.

I say above that I have no wish to discuss the wider issues of toleration. I will make one exception. This is to regret that the book will not reach a wider audience. Hate is often based on fear; and it is difficult to fear what is openly known. Some of my readers may claim to be disgusted by the second quotation above. But if they will only read this book, they will be forced to one important point – that, mutual fellation aside, there is no sexual act performed by homosexuals that cannot be – indeed, is not – performed by heterosexuals. Whatever can be said about particular circumstances, there is nothing exclusive about the acts themselves.

I go further. Many heterosexuals may snigger as they read about enemas and jerk-off lubricant. But I suggest that they will not find anything half so good as this in their own magazines and instruction manuals about male sexuality.

Therefore, buy this book, whatever your sexual preference. Read it. Learn from it. Give copies to your friends this Christmas. If you have adolescent children, make it part of their required reading. Let these above all be not ignorant. Will it turn them into homosexuals? Probably not: matters of exclusive sexual preference probably owe more to a natural disposition than to worldly influence. And if it does encourage them to experiment – and with or without this book, many will experiment – they will do so at least with their eyes open.

In short, buy this book.

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14 responses to “The New Joy of Gay Sex

  1. Peter Watson

    You’re either really good at irony or mad.

    • You’ve known me long enough to know which.

      However, do note the suspicion, voiced 20 years ago, that real libertarians would soon be called on to the defend the rights of people disliked by homosexuals. Was I wrong there?

  2. All the activities you describe are fruitless, abit like a man who waters his garden every day but nothing grows.

  3. So they may, but lets not delude ourselves that what they do is fruitful. Its is a form of masturbation, and after the initial pleasure is empty.

  4. At the risk of annoying people who genuinely say or think that they are gay, I have to say that I have always regarded the paraded and advertised existence of homosexuality (as an abiding lifestyle choice) as apocryphal. This goes both for gays and lesbians: indeed, I find it hard to take self-confessed lesbians seriously, as it is unclear how they could pleasure each other at all. The reason I take this position will become clear in paragraph 3 below.

    The obvious biochemically-originated and physiological rewards experienced by a human organism, in the act of sex with someone of the opposite sex, are so abundantly clear, and so pressing, that, whether or not evolution has selected for individuals that experience this since they therefore produce more young per unit time per couple, the alternatives all appear to be completely without the possibility of stimulation. (Indeed – “condoms” may well have been invented specifically to prevent the male individual achieving an orgasm at all, whatever the externalities of attractiveness of the partner…try one sometime and see if I am right.)

    I see the reasoning behind Sean’s eulogisation of such a book. Libertarians, I suppose (“it takes all sorts to make a world…more’s the pity”) have to take a position that all lifestyle choices that don’t affect third parties should be allowed in private. That does not mean they are right. Right and wrong are objective positions. But “I am not my brother’s keeper.” Trying by force to be their brothers’ keepers is the main fault of the GramscoFabiaNazis. These GFNs – as we and all children of six can and do know – are using groups like “the LGBT communities”, “Muslims”, “Single Mothers”, “hard-working-children-and-families”, “ethnic minorities” and the like, as favoured stalking-horse-groups: or what Lenin called “useful idiots” in the destruction of the only civilisation that approximated, ever, to classical-liberal-minimal-statism.

    The words “Gay Pride” come to mind. One suspects what kind of people thought of that, and it probably wasn’y the gays themselves: not that they might not feel comfortable inside themselves about their procilvities, and not that I would grudge that: but books like this might also help to mask the reality that they as a group are beng used, and for pruposes that many of them might balk at if they detecned what was really going on.

    • In a future post, I will seek to reconcile this article with my objection last year to having my daughter told about gay lifestyles.

  5. Last year, your daughter was…3…4…5? What the fuck are the GramscoFabiaNazis thinking they are doing, telling infants about gay lifestyles? This has not even happened to my 9-y-o yet up in the nissen hut. Is this how they actually plan to legalise the use of real-time-pornography (for themselves)?

    Are things rather worse then, in the South?

  6. What utter cock and bollocks

  7. They wanted to teach my little brother about gay ‘lifestyles’ and other such things when he was 7/8.

    I only started learning where babies came from at 11

  8. Voldemort au Vent

    From Peter’s Pop-Up Book of Politics, Peter Mandelson, Cultural Marxist Publications, 2013:

    libertarianism, n. the ideology whereby believers in liberty, sincere and otherwise, assiduously and effectively promote the destruction of liberty by working on behalf of its enemies. See also: useful idiot; cultural Marxism; homophobia, laws against.

    Gabb, Sean: libertarian who gets to appear on the B.B.C. by not noticing or commenting on what is right in front of his nose. See also libertarianism; useful idiot; cultural Marxism; homophobia, laws against.

    • You are welcome to your opinion. I, of course, do not share it.

      • “libertarianism, n. the ideology whereby believers in liberty, sincere and otherwise, assiduously and effectively promote the destruction of liberty by working on behalf of its enemies. See also: useful idiot; cultural Marxism; homophobia, laws against.”

        Voldemort, could you explain how this applies to Austrian/free market Libertarians?

  9. Voldemort au Vent

    You are welcome to your opinion. I, of course, do not share it.

    Useful idiots never do. But they do eventually realize what was going on. When it’s too late.