A long, long time ago, in 1960, right before the sexual revolution, two psychoanalysists, Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen, published a book called Sex Histories of American College Men. The book was praised not so much for any groundbreaking insights into male sexuality (the famous Kinsey had done that previously), but because it wasn't pornography in a time when certain muscle magazines with mildly or vaguely homoerotic content were considered obscene. Rather, the stories were "erotic realism" that showed how, in the chapter on homosexuality, most guys experimented with gay sex. And that most were actually bisexual. This is not news to us today, in an age when sexual roles are so fluid and the "B" in GLBT is out and proud, as well. But in 1960, even the hint of a homosexual experience, much less an orientation, could mean job loss, ostracization by family and friends, and, in many cases, suicide.
What's interesting in this book is the emphasis on a "homosexual phase" college boys (and younger) apparently go through; how the "play with my penis" games continue into young adulthood and even beyond, where older guys introduce younger guys into such penis play. Here's an account of a 1950s circle jerk from the Kronhausen book:
"When standing guard for the other kids, I got a big kick of peeping into their "den" and taking in much of what went on in this fashion. I must confess that I got an erection from just watching them horse around (performing mutual masturbation) and if I could do so without being noticed by them, I would play with myself until I had an orgasm. After that, my interest in the activities diminished."
But eventually, most guys like this end up with a girl. After all, during this time period, that was the norm. Better to marry than to burn in hell.
Yet there were situations, according to the book, where being gay wasn't something that unusual. One college student tells about working in a resort hotel and that many of the employees were homosexual (surprise!). The student actually learns something, after his first experience with anal intercourse, that many American today haven't figured out. Here's what he says:
"I was surprised at the many different types of homosexuals there were, and since that summer I have become tolerant of other person's sexual practices, as long as he and she doesn't compel others to practice them. One homosexual was fat and looked like a eunuch. One was tall, dark, and handsome, and looked like a movie star; in fact he did sing professionally. One married fellow only went out with other boys and girls when his wife was pregnant, which according to common knowledge, was five times in four years of marriage. Still another was married and kept his practices secret. I have finally become convinced that these people are not necessarily immoral or insane, as many people believe."
If you look beyond the stereotypes in this passage, one can see the tragedy of a closeted life, but also the importance of education, in this case, not book education, but real-life experiences (supposedly part of going to college). It's not clear that the narrator in the above passage was gay, but he certainly didn't mind (and probably enjoyed) his fuck in the shower, nor the "temporary conversion" of his friend to gay sex. A rather unfortunate choice of words, "conversion," given the horrible stereotype of gays supposedly recruiting children, but the narrator means no harm by it. He seems amenable to going both ways, as do the authors of this book. Even the ancient Greek philosopher Plato said in his Symposium that we are all basically bisexual. That's the center point. In varying degrees, we move right or left along the spectrum.
What can we make of this attitude in an age, as I said above, where sexual roles are much more open and fluid? Think of the phenomenon of the "metrosexual" and "male lesbian." It's almost assumed that most college-age people at some point, at least in more liberal-thinking areas, will be "bi-curious." That's the term one uses on the Internet these days. There's even a whole subgenre of porn: straight guys having gay sex. Gay for pay, gay for a day. The erotic realism of the stories in the Kronhausen book is still the basis for pornographic fantasy.
I think the key is honesty and authenticity. The freedom to explore also carries with it the weight of responsibility. A guy doesn't necessarily have to hide anything (though some still do), but it's better to figure you out what you really are as a sexual person before marrying a girl, and finding out later that you like guys. And getting hard in a locker room filled with hot muscle-hunks doesn't mean you are gay (you might just have a piss hard-on), but nor does it mean that you should desperately try and cover it up with a towel and enroll in the Exodus conversion to straight program. Keep an open mind, and remember that the best sex can be sex with the whole person, who is more than a cock or a hole.