Q My roommate is a gay man who is into getting fisted. A lot. We were FWBs until he moved into my place, when we agreed it would be better to not have sex anymore. It's worked out fine. He's been here for a year. Here's the problem: About two years ago, he got into fisting and he has someone over every night to fist him. As soon as he comes home from work, he spends a good hour in the bathroom cleaning out, and then some guy comes over to fist him. Every single day. My roommate is an attractive guy who doesn't think he's attractive at all. I've talked to him a few times about whether he's being sexually compulsive, but he just laughs and says, "Well, you suck a lot of dick." (I have a healthy, moderate sex life.) I am concerned that all this ass play is not healthy. As a friend, I want him to seek help for his sexual compulsion, his low self-esteem and his social isolation. As a roommate, I am tired of these strange men coming into my home and the high water bill.
—Frequent Insertions Sincerely Trouble Someone
A "Fisting is a healthy and safe sexual activity so long as the participants are sober," says Peter Shalit, a physician and author who works with many gay men. "There is a misconception that fisting damages the anal sphincter, loosens it and causes a loss of bowel control over time. This is absolutely false."
Devin Franco, a gay porn star who's been getting fisted weekly for many years, backs up Shalit. "People will leave comments on my videos asking if I was in pain, even though I'm clearly always enjoying it. Fisting is actually the most pleasurable sexual act I've ever experienced—and seven years in, no negative health consequences and everything down there works just fine, thanks."
How does someone like Franco get a fist and/or a ridiculously large sex toy in his butt?
"A skilled fisting bottom can voluntarily relax the anal sphincter in order to accommodate a hand up to the wrist or further," explains Shalit. "A skilled fisting top knows how to insert their hand—it's actually fingertips first, not a clenched fist—and how to do it gently, taking their time and using lots of lube. And, again, after the session is over, the sphincter returns to its normal state."
Which is not to say that people haven't injured themselves or others engaging in anal play with large sex toys, fists or even perfectly average cocks—people most certainly have. That's why it's crucial to take things slow, use lots of lube and go at it sober.
"Fisting isn't for everyone," says Shalit. "In fact, most people are unable to relax their sphincter in this fashion."
"It actually took about two years for me," says Franco. "That's from the first time I did anal play thinking, 'Maybe I can get his whole fist in there,' to the first time I actually got a fist in my ass. Two years."
And while fisting isn't for everyone, FISTS, like Shalit says, it clearly is for your roommate. But enjoying a particular sexual activity—even one that seems extreme to those who don't enjoy it—isn't by itself evidence of low self-esteem or sexual compulsion.
"If FISTS thinks his roommate has low self-esteem," says Shalit, "he's done the right thing by telling him he should seek help. But that's the end of his responsibility."
While Franco also doesn't think getting fisted daily is proof that your roommate is out of control, fisting isn't something he does every day. "Doing it daily sounds exhausting," he says.
All that said, FISTS, two of your cited reasons for not liking what your roommate is up to—strange men in and out of your apartment (and your roommate) and all that douching driving up your water bill—are legitimate complaints that you shouldn't be shy about addressing.
Shalit recommends Anal Pleasure & Health by Jack Morin to anyone who wants to learn more about anal intercourse, fisting and other forms of anal play. "It's the bible of anal sexuality," Shalit says.
Follow Devin Franco on Twitter @devinfrancoxxx, and check out his work at justfor.fans/devinfrancoxxx.
Q My husband of nearly 20 years came out to me as bisexual about two months ago. He assured me he has no intention of looking outside our marriage for other sex partners. We've always had a kind of barrier sexually, and it seemed to fall away after he came out. We've since done all manner of things, including my using a dildo on him. (Thanks for all the tips over the years about anal!) It has been a fun and empowering experience overall. There is one thing I am having trouble with. He mentioned that he'd like me to peg him using a strap-on. I mean, of course he would, right? He'd like to actually feel my body against his. That would doubtless make the whole experience better for him. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Does this require me, even if temporarily, to change my body? I'm feeling really vulnerable and insecure about it, like it means there's something wrong with my body. I get panicky just thinking about it. (My husband has not done or said anything to make me feel bad about my body.) Using the dildo is no big thing, and I don't understand why this feels so different and difficult.
—Pegging Feels Different
A You don't have to do anything about this right now, PFD. Your husband only came out to you as bisexual two months ago! Your husband's honesty pulled down that barrier you'd always sensed but could never name, and that's wonderful and exciting. And you're already exploring anal penetration with him on the receiving end, which is something many straight men also enjoy. If covering your genitals temporarily with a strap-on makes you feel awkward or unwanted, you don't have to do it—not now, not ever. If covering your vulva with a strap-on makes you feel negated or undesirable, there are dildo harnesses that strap on to your thigh, not your crotch, and could provide your husband with body-to-body closeness during penetration while still leaving your vulva and clit accessible for digital stimulation.
Have a question about sex, sexuality or relationships? Email it to Dan Savage, it could get answered in the column some week soon.