Bill Roundy is a handsome guy with a shaved head. Quite the masculine ideal, the 32-year-old New York City cartoonist wears dark fingernail polish and is described by friends as "rather goth." He is secure in being gay, but that doesn't mean he's dating other gay guys.
"Straight guys are more nonchalant about things," Roundy says. "When you are in an all-gay environment there is sexual tension. People are wondering if you are looking at them. But if I'm in a room with 10 guys and one is straight, that's the one I would go for. I think that's my cosmic pattern."
What were once isolated incidents of sex with "straight" men in Roundy's life have become regular liaisons. "It's like I've got this invisible sign on my head that says EXPERIMENTAL ZONE. I've been with a ton of guys who are straight," he says.
One man became a close long-term friend and is now happily married to a woman. Before his wedding there were years of hookups with Roundy each time the man--who identifies as straight, not bisexual--was between girlfriends. "We were really good friends," Roundy says. "I had a huge crush on him, and one night I asked him out. He said, 'Thank you, but no.'"
They remained friends, and months later Roundy was at his house when things evolved. "I put my arm around him, and I wound up going down on him," he says. "We didn't talk about it a lot. His thing was that I loved him, and he loved me, and I wanted to go down on him. And it felt really good. He made it clear that he was not going to reciprocate."
Their relationship continued. "He was like a passive participant," Roundy says. "It was like, 'Hey, I'm going down on you,' and he would say, 'OK.'"
In 2006 you might think gay guys going for straight men would be a thing of the past. As gays and lesbians are more widely accepted in the mainstream, forming same-sex relationships has become a lot easier. But the longstanding phenomenon of "gay seeking straight" is as strong as ever, if for different reasons than in the past.
These days there are numerous Web sites such as www.straightcollegemen.com that sell the straight-boy fantasy to gay men. There are pages of postings on the "men seeking men" section of Web sites like Craigslist containing the words "straight-acting" or "seeking straight."
Falling for straight men used to be-and for some still is--all about internalized homophobia, says Danny Garza, a psychiatrist and founder of the Open Door Clinic, an LGBT mental health facility in New York City. "They are attracted to more masculine men than they are themselves," he says. "They dislike how they see themselves as gay feminine people."
But in today's more tolerant society a lot of gay men simply may be exploring a fantasy, and a lot of "straight" men seem to be playing along, Garza adds. "There is greater acceptance of pansexual behavior among straight men," he says. "Men who are self-identified as straight are more willing to explore their homosexual side. It's less of a taboo today. Sexuality is more accepted in all of its forms."
"James Clover," who asked The Advocate not to use his real name, spent years going to gay bars and searching among openly gay men to form a relationship. But he didn't like the types of people he was meeting, so the 46-yearold public relations professional from Miami started dating "straight" men. …