Sexual Orientation is Not a Factor When Diagnosing Sex Addiction

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Being gay or bisexual does not make you a sex addict any more than being straight makes you a sex addict. Sexual addiction and sexual orientation are completely unrelated. A person’s sexual arousal template (who and what it is that turns that person on) is not a factor when properly trained clinicians diagnose sex and porn addiction. Instead, sex and porn addiction are identified based on the same criteria as every other form of addiction.

  1. Ongoing obsession/preoccupation with the drug/behavior of choice
  2. Loss of control over use (generally evidenced by multiple failed attempts to quit)
  3. Directly related negative life consequences

That said, there is a misperception that people with non-traditional (non-heterosexual) sexual orientations are, by nature, hypersexual – especially gay and bisexual men. In reality, gay and bisexual men (and other members of the LGBTQ community) are no more or less sexual than anyone else.

Perhaps the belief that gay and bisexual men are highly sexual stems from the fact that until recently they were heavily repressed by society. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association viewed homosexuality as a mental illness until the early 1970s. And even after the APA reversed its misguided stance, same-sex behaviors (even in the privacy of one’s own bedroom) were still illegal in many jurisdictions until as recently as 10 or 15 years ago. With all of that repression, sexual activity has long been celebrated and sometimes even flaunted by gay and bisexual men and women as a right and freedom.

This relatively open expectation/celebration of ‘alternative sexuality’ is, in many ways, a natural and healthy reaction to the once-ubiquitous repression and abuse of gay and bisexual men and women. On the plus side, this assertive response to living in a shame-based, homophobic culture has helped many people ‘come out’ and live honestly, developing healthy intimate relationships with their partner(s) of choice. On the other hand, this widespread community approval of unrestrained sexual expression may enable those who are sexually addicted.

Consider alcohol as an analogy. An alcoholic who spends all of his free time in bars will find it very easy to rationalize, minimize, and justify his drinking since everyone else there is also drinking. Similarly, if a gay male sex addict is hanging out in venues (online or real-world) where others are also being highly sexual, he will find it very easy to rationalize, minimize, and justify his sexual compulsivity, even when his behaviors spiral out of control and create problems. But this hardly means that all gay and bisexual men are sex addicts. Not everyone at a bar is alcoholic; not everyone on Grindr is a sex addict.

Yes, gay and bisexual men and women can be sex addicts, just as heterosexuals can be sex addicts. But being gay or bi does not make someone a sex addict any more than being straight makes someone a sex addict.

At the end of the day, gay and bisexual sex addicts are not compulsively sexual because of their sexual orientation. Rather, they are compulsively sexual as a way to self-soothe stress, emotional discomfort, and the pain of underlying psychological issues like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, shame, attachment deficits, unresolved childhood trauma, severe adult-life trauma, etc. In this respect, gay and bisexual sex addicts are exactly like heterosexual sex addicts. They are also exactly like gambling addicts, alcoholics, drug addicts, and compulsive spenders. As such, they should receive the same caliber of sex addiction therapy that would be offered to a heterosexual sex addict.