An Open Letter To Gay, White Men: No, You’re Not Allowed To Have A Racial Preference

Before I begin, I want you to understand that I’m not calling all of you racist. I’ve never been one to throw that word around casually and even though I’m sure there are some that word would fit like a glove, I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you ― the cisgendered, white, gay men out there who hold no ill will towards minorities (especially black and brown ones) but somehow have never found themselves in bed with one. You’re good guys, I know this to be true. You mean well when it comes to race relations but, as a white man in… the world, you must admit, you have no clue what it means to be racially discriminated against. As a result, there are often times when you don’t recognize when your behavior towards people of color veers into problematic territory. As a black man within the gay community, I recognize that shit all the time and have a few points I’d like to discuss with you. I’m not here to judge you. There’s only one capital H-i-m and it’s not me. But you may want to take my words to heart if you’d like to live up to those progressive memes you share on Facebook all the time.

Let’s start with the epicenter of your problematic behaviors towards my kind: your dating app profile. I know it can be hard to find the right words while expressing your preferences when it comes to what you’re looking for in a partner. Whether you’re looking for “Mr. Right” or “Mr. Yea Daddy Right There” but I can’t help but notice that a lot of you get lost, like… really lost, when it comes to stating your preferences properly. To be clear, you’re allowed to describe the kind of guy you’re looking for and the things that turn you on but specifying the race of your desired partner is a line that is not to be crossed. It comes off as racist and that’s because it is.

I should point out that I’ve had this conversation with more than a couple of white gays in person and here is where the debate usually begins, so I’m going to assume that you’re rolling your eyes at me right about now. That’s fine and to make you feel more heard I’ll even repeat the most common point used to counter my argument ― “but people like what they like. Can’t change that.” I’ve heard that excuse, or some iteration of it, used many times. Almost as if it’s a magic phrase that just kind of ends the conversation and absolves you of your bullshit. I’ll put aside the fact that broadcasting your distaste for an entire race, or multiple races, in the year 2017 is really dumb in addition to being racist as fuck, and just challenge the reasoning here head on. Yes, people like what they like but sometimes the things people like are racist, like lawn jockeys or the current president of the United States. You can’t say you prefer one race of people as romantic partners, or anything really, to another because all of the people who belong to one race are not the same. No matter how you slice it, it’s racist.

But what if Black and Asian men choose to only date other Black and Asian men? Isn’t that racist too? No… and you tried it. Look, all men are created equal but all men are not valued equally, especially in this country. Every Black and Asian man who grew up on this planet grew up surrounded by positive images of whiteness and white men. Therefore, our desire to date within our own race, when we choose to, is not rooted in any assertion made by society that we’re better than anyone else. I know this is a lot to digest so I’ll just boil it down to this: if your preference for a partner supports an existing racial hierarchy which marginalizes minorities, then your preferences are racist. And yes, that includes you rice queens and chocolate chasers too. Fetishizing me is not a compliment, it’s propping up harmful sexual stereotypes and, it too, is racist.

As I’ve said before, I have had this conversation many times so I know what comes next. You’re saying to yourself “Damn! If I don’t go for men of color I’m racist. If I do, I’m racist.” Well… yes! If you’re making any of your dating decisions with a person’s race in mind, that’s racist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to find all Black and Asian men attractive. I sure as hell don’t. What I’m saying is that men of color are still men, and as such, we want the people making decisions about our desirability to make them based on who and what we are and that doesn’t begin and end with a few layers of melanin.

“Fine, I’m a horrible racist asshole. What do I do about it? I can’t re-program myself to find men of color more attractive,” some of you might be saying. Actually, you can. As you know, the brain is the largest sexual organ in your body and it’s capable of amazing growth. Think of it like learning a new language, better still, think of it like unlearning a racist one. In social psychology there is a theory called The Mere-Exposure Effect. Simply put, the more we are exposed to someone, the more attractive they become to us. See? There’s hope for you after all! You can decide how best to “expose” yourself however you want but please, for the good of us POC who have to share this community with you, get to work. As gay men of color we get more than enough discrimination from the rest of the world. We don’t need the friendly fire from you.

30 years of gay style: from disco chic to hipster bears

It used to be a tribal signal but as gay style has moved into the mainstream, the look has become harder to pin down. It’s forcing creatives to really push the boundaries if they want to make a statement

A reciprocal shared wardrobe, common across menswear emerged. “When I was younger,” says Green, who was born in 1986, “what I thought of as a very gay look was really a metrosexual thing, a bit Italian, clothes a tiny bit too tight, skinny jeans, tanned, tight T-shirt, worked out. Most of the men who dressed like that were straight. Gay men all seemed to be growing beards, too. It was a less specific time. You couldn’t really tell who was who any more. Had we come to a melting point?”

From the vantage point of the DJ booth in the capital’s Horse Meat Disco, Luke Howard has been well positioned to watch the changing appearance of gay men over the past 16 years. He has noticed something similar to Green. “Lads in a straight club in Sheffield or Leeds don’t look that different from an average crowd we get at Horse Meat Disco,” he says. “These days I can barely tell the difference between straight men and gay.”

At the beginning of last year I started writing a book, Good As You, about the mainstreaming of gay pop culture as gay men headed towards complete equality in British law; roughly, a journey from Smalltown Boy to same-sex marriage that felt personal and lived, but would hopefully reflect a wider shift in the country as the gay culture has come into the light. Across the 30 years I looked at (1984-2014), the sheer number and range of signals that gay men sent out through their personal, often tribal, style fitted a wider emerging narrative, reframing the British gay man’s story from victimhood to a kind of valiant heroism. By the time I had finished the book, a moustache was no longer a moustache, it was part of a suit of no-nonsense sex armour.

“Traditionally,” says Tim Blanks, editor-at-large of Business of Fashion, “gay style was about men who took a lot of care and attention about their appearance.” The Beckhamification of culture that begot the metrosexual ended all that. The most popular gay cultural figures in its slipstream were visibly paying less attention to their clobber than the majority. For Blanks, this is even truer of gay cultural figures now. “Where is gay style now concentrated?” he asks. “[Singer] John Grant’s statement is the most chic, stylish and sophisticated art. But it isn’t visual.” Like the musician Perfume Genius, AKA Mike Hadreas, Grant favours contemplation of the interior life over the exterior.

Yet just as the gay scruff-as-cultural-archetype boomed, a raft of new figures emerged, reframing sexuality and style, both in and out of high fashion. Demna Gvasalia (Vetements, Balenciaga) and Alessandro Michele (Gucci) became the most influential designers of their era by taking – respectively – utilitarian street style and ornate embellishment down strange, pleasingly radical avenues, upsetting the strict tenets of buttoned-up, sartorial menswear. Meanwhile, American designer Rick Owens has looked to the brilliantly extreme edges of performance art, taking inspiration from the purposefully surreal, absurdist and unsettling physical disposition of David Hoyle and Christeene ValeI could look at [queer experimentalist] Arca 24 hours a day,” says Blanks. “He is phenomenal. His look embodies transgression, intellectual depth, incredible provocation and sensuality in exactly the way Bowie’s and Lou Reed’s did when I was teenage.”

For a young breed of designers, a sense of controlled, thrilling outrage – a sense incubated in gay nightlife – is once more tickling the underbelly of fashion. “You have all those children of Kim Jones,” Blanks notes. Jones, head of menswear at Louis Vuitton, made a path from 90s London gay club culture to the apex of men’s fashion. He was a regular at 90s gay clubs from Kinky Gerlinky to Queer Nation, which he has heavily referenced in his collections. Young designers including Christopher Shannon and Bobby Abley have done their own idiosyncratic takes on that journey, too. It’s a path that can work in reverse, too. In their earliest incarnation, Take That, five straight men from the north-west, were styled to catch the eyes of ritzy gay clubbers at La Cage in Manchester.

Another who trod that path was Green, whose richly specific fashion vernacular feels technically in the lineage of Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. Then there’s JW Anderson’s fruity gender play, putting men in frilly boob tubes and thigh boots during his early years.

As Green was writing his thesis, the young designer Charles Jeffrey was being beaten up in Glasgow for his appearance. An obsessive fan of Southend gothic revivalists the Horrors, he tried to emulate their style on a pocket-money budget. “I wanted the panda eyes and the big black hair but I had to buy winklepickers from Burton and women’s blouses from Primark,” he recalls. Hair was a big thing for Jeffrey, his point of differentiation, the “this is me” moment that many men have traditionally alighted on when they adapt publicly into a chosen gay identity. “I was called a ‘faggot’ and a ‘poof’ for having bright orange hair in what I thought of as really quite an aggressive look. I didn’t see it as being gay at all and I was punched in the face in George Square for it.”

“Gay men have co-opted both masculine and feminine imagery,” says Howard, “in an either/or way as regards their choices of clothes.” This delineation has precedent. “In the late 70s, you had new romantics with their velvet and face powder, which coincided with the clone look – handlebar moustache, muir cap, leather and denim – inspired by construction workers and uniformed personnel.” He thinks the reason these polarities exist might be connected to deeper identity questions. “Boys that grow up to become gay men have often personally experienced or at least witnessed anti-gay bullying, which perhaps then becomes either externalised – I’ll be as flamboyant as I want in my attire and to hell with you all – or internalised: I’ll be more masculine-looking than the most heterosexual men.”

The digital age has complicated personal identity issues for everyone. For many gay men, the closure of bespoke social spaces, as clubs and bars shut up shop, has meant formalising an identity online. “At the Blitz and Taboo,” says Blanks of the legendary London gay clubs, “it was always about not wanting to be stuck at home.” Times change and styles change with them. “Now, it is absolutely all about staying in.” The 2017 gay male archetype could easily be the bearded, topless selfie guy, stomach clenched, puckering up in his bathroom mirror, who routinely clogs the suggestion feeds of gay Facebook and Instagram users.

“What a shame,” Blanks continues. “The notion of community used to be absolute. The internet presents a different sense of immediacy. Your desire is now more important than your style.” In this sense, the most useful arbiter of gay style may be Ernesto Sarezale, the London nightclub fixture who frequently attends, dances and leaves completely naked.

Jeffrey’s Loverboy parties have seen the emergence of a newly radical slant on the club kids who have defined gay culture. “What I love about someone like [Loverboy regular] Harry Charlesworth,” says Blanks, “is that he’s sitting dressed like a southern belle with a hairy chest that Burt Reynolds would be proud of. It’s that visual idea that ties back to the Cockettes.” The revolutionary late 60s/early 70s San Francisco drag ensemble – a template for wild expression – are a touchstone in the gay style story.

“My gay style icon would have to be Sylvester,” says Howard, about the Cockette who broke free from the underground to define the sound, look and spiritual outer edges of disco. “He used his body and the clothes he wore as a way to express his liberation from the oppressive restrictions of heteronormative culture. If only more men, gay and straight, myself included, could be more like him.”

Wardrobe constraints can be further complicated by the thorny issue of sex. “Dress codes are generally about getting laid,” says GQ Style’s editor, Luke Day. “The connecting tissue between all gay subcultures is that you’re generally expressing your sexual preference in some sort of way. We are trying to attract. What we put out there is what we fancy.”

“There are gay men that I like the style of,” says Green. He mentions his former stylist and collaborator Julian Ganio, the fashion director of Fantastic Man magazine. “He wears things really well. It’s quite difficult to look good in denim shorts, a bucket hat and a pair of shearling loafers, but he’s got a magic way of holding himself.”

Ganio himself doesn’t think that gay men’s style has changed much over his time. “It never really does,” he says. “In 30 years’ time, it’s more than likely the leather queens will still wear leather, the bears will wear a plaid shirt and beard and the scallies will wear Reebok Classics with a Ralph Lauren polo shirt.”

Howard thinks the real influence of gay men on mainstream style may not even be on their own kind. “Perhaps, traditionally, gay men have had more time and money to spend on their clothes and bodies, but gay men have arguably had more influence on women’s style and fashion than men’s.” The recent appointment of Edward Enninful as editor of British Vogue would suggest that. As for the question that haunts the debate of gay men and style, Ganio has a simple and succinct answer.

30 years of gay style: from disco chic to hipster bears

The best gay sex positions: How do gay men have sex?

As anyone who’s ever had gay sex, thought about gay sex or watched gay sex will know there are endless combinations possible gay sex positions. But where to start? What feels best? How do you gay men have sex?

This guide to the four most accessible – and we reckon most pleasurable – gay sex positions will help get you started.

Before we get stuck into how to stick it in, we’d always condone safer sex and recommend you read our guide to PrEP, and always use condoms when having sex.

The best gay sex positions: How do gay men have sex?

Gay otters are so cute!

Gay otters represent one of the largest swath of men within the gay classification system. With hairy features that give off a magnetic vibe, they are hard to ignore. Gay otters are adorable and often very playful.

If you’ve never heard of the term, gay otter, we’re going to define it for you. And if you already classify yourself as an “otter type” or want to deepen your insight about this type of male, this guide is for you!

Gay otters are so cute!

GAY OTTERS DEFINED

Gay Otter: A man with think or thickish athletic build that usually has lots of body hair. Typically, this hair covers various parts of the torso, including the chest and stomach. Some otters also have hair on the arms, back and butt.

Gay otters differ from their gay wolf relatives in that wolves are typically more muscular. There can be crossover between the both typologies because they share similar characteristics.

In addition to being hairy, “otters” are often thought of as a “masculine” type. They can be top or bottom and many identify as versatile.

Gay otters can be of any age, usually starting from mid-20’s to later adulthood. They can be of any racial or ethnic background.

Otters are not born “otters”. They usually start out as some form of a pup and may briefly pass through a gay twink phase. As time goes on, they evolve into otters.

Many then remain in this classification for years or transform into wolves or bears.

Body-wise, it’s helpful to think of otters as smaller than bears and cubs.

GAY OTTERS DEFINED

GAY OTTERS: WHERE DID LABEL COME FROM?

The term gay otter appears to have entered the gay lexicon sometime during the early to mid-1980’s. In the early 1990’s, “otter” had become popularized with wide spread use.

The exact etiology of this affectionate gay classification name remains unclear.

It has been theorized that gay otters are an offshoot of gay bears; a term that is linked to a 1970 article appearing in the Advocate entitled: Who’s in the Zoo? It was authored by George Mazzei.

GAY OTTER PLACEMENT

The rationale behind the otter label is fairly simple. Body-wise, “bears” are typically large and hairy. “Wolves” are often hairy but lean and muscular. In the middle, you have “otters”, which are hairy but not super built but athletic.

It is for this reason that within the gay-o-sphere, otters represent the largest group of gay men.

GAY OTTER FLAG

Only a handful of groups within the gay spectrum have a flag. The best known and most easily recognizable is the bear flag. It has a multi-color scheme made up of browns, tans, blacks, whites and grays. You will usually see a bear paw print on the upper left corner.

Until recently, wolves didn’t have a flag. That changed in 2015 when one was created one for them, inspired by the traditional bear flag since wolves are considered offshoots.

Astonishingly, otters had no flag either. This despite their large numbers within the gay male community. Not wanting this group to feel left out, Gay Pop Buzz also created a flag for them in 2015. See below.

GAY OTTER BODY TRAITS

As highlighted earlier, gay otters are typically hairy with thin to thick athletic builds. Most have hair covering the torso to varying degrees.

FYI: There are smoothish otters, which commonly is a result of trimming hair through manscaping with a body groomer.

It’s critical to bear in mind that not all otters wear facial hair. Many do but it is not a required characteristic for this classification.

FYI: By definition, all wolves must facial hair. This is a key distinction between the two typologies as otters can have smooth faces.

GAY OTTER FACIAL TRAITS

Because the defining feature of gay otters is body hair, it can be difficult to determine classification simply by looking at them. Let’s face it, most guys where shirts so you can’t see if they have torso fur.

However, there are facial markers to look for. While not universal, many otters:

GAY OTTER CLOTHING

Keep in mind that otters are an offshoot of the gay bear community and cousins with wolves. Since masculinity is a marker of both typologies, gay otters are considered manly.

Apparel for otters is really all over the place so there’s no right or wrong dress code for this type. Characteristically, you will see otters wearing:

GAY OTTER MANNERISMS

When assessing for a man’s otter features, it’s important to not only examine his physical features traits but also his behavioral mannerisms.

Part of what makes an otter and otter, at least in gaydom, is his playful personality. That’s because this body type directly borrows from north American otters who are known for this trait.

While it’s hard to paint with a wide brush, it is fair to say that many of these furry creatures hold common characteristics.

SELF-CARE FOR GAY OTTERS

If you consider yourself an otter, it is important that you partake in certain hygiene focused activities involving body hair and skin.

Below, we’ve offered some tips to help you be the sexiest otter that you can be.

If you consider yourself a younger gay otter (under 40) consider these skin care pointers to help you look more attractive to potential mates.

If you happen to be 40 or over, we’ve put together an Otter/DILF guide to help you keep what you’ve got and build upon your sexiness.

Otters, just like their wolf and bear counterparts, need to be mindful of body hair. For some, this means manscaping is key to staying well groomed.

In recent years, there’s been a movement to buck the entire trimming thing and simply go natural. The choice is obviously up to you.

FYI: If you are noticing greys around your private parts starting to crop up, it’s perfectly natural. As we age, our body hair gradually turns from colored shades to white.

If you want to look younger and keep color around your private parts, it never hurts to use a special dye.

GAY OTTER MYTHS

In the wider gay male community, there exists a plethora of myths associated with gay otters. Some came about because of confusion. Others are borne from a place of ignorance.

Here are some of the “biggies” that seem to heavily circulate. Remember, none are true.

GAY OTTER POLL

As we wrap things up, we thought it might be fun to publish a poll on gay otters. It’s not scientific so the results should be considered for entertainment purposes only.

And because we suspect that mostly otter-like men will partake in this poll, the results may be somewhat skewed.

GAY OTTERS AND LABELS

We recognize that some people within the LGBTQ spectrum find the use of labels to be distasteful. We certainly respect that viewpoint.

However, we’d also like to say that an argument exists for using these terms and for preserving them as long as possible. Please read our gay lingo post to learn more.

Wild Gay Slang: Fully Explained

Gay slang originated out of necessity. Gay men wanted to be able to speak in public without revealing their sexuality, especially in places and times of extreme LGBTQ+ persecution. Thus, gay lexicon was born. Over the years, gay slang has evolved, and it’s sometimes tough to keep up. So here they are, all the creatures in the queer animal kingdom, fully explained. We’ll start off with the ones you’re more likely to know, and then move into some of the less common critters.

Bear

Ah, the bears, one of the oldest and largest subgroups of the gay community. Bears are on the heavier side, either muscular, beefy, or chunky. The wouldn’t dream of shaving their body hair (which comes in abundance) and they usually have a full beard to match. They exude masculinity, and are some of the kindest men you’ll meet in your entire life. There are many subtypes of bears, like a polar bear, which is a older bear with white hair.

Where Should You Shave?

Do all gay men shave their body hair? Should you keep some hair or not? Where should it be?There is an ongoing hairy messy talk about shaving your body hair, and to what extent. The question today’s trends ask to gay men is, should you shave or not?

A few years back you would find this question obvious to answer: if you’re gay, you shave your body hair…. ALL of it. I still remember hooking up with guys whose skin was completely smooth because of their shaving. Others, not so much. It used to be a question of hygiene: the less hair, the less perspiration smell. 

As with most things gay, body hair is a matter of style, preference, and function. Trends flop between a smooth body and a furry buddy depending on what circles you ask. There is one thing you should consider in the middle of this debate though, body hair exists for a reason. And it can be so sexy when trimmed right!There are perks to both styles. A smooth body has its function. Not only can you swim a faster lap, but pesky body odor is kept to a minimum. Still, some guys like a more natural look and a softer patch to keep them insulated even in the heat. I prefer a guy who’s struck a deal with nature to tame the wild: a trimmed pit balanced with a shaped brow and a surprise path of natural here and there.

So, I ask: What look are you going for and what type of man are you trying to attract? And also it is important that you should not choose a look which you don’t feel comfortable with. That means you probably have to try some looks and see how you feel. Most times you cannot really tell unless you try have been grooming for years, but gay and straight men alike have caught up to the idea in recent years. Today, men are more comfortable expressing their individuality with their bodies. Not to mention one of the fastest growing demos in the grooming and cosmetics industries are men. By and large, grooming body hair, or ’scaping, can mean a light trim, a lined pattern, or complete removal. Some gay men form bikini wax patterns, while others simply trim abnormally long hairs. To each his gay are various ways to getting rid of unwanted hair. Each person’s hair growth and skin sensitivity is different, you need to choose a way to groom your body hair according to yours. So it may take some trial and error to determine the best method. 

First, choose the method you think you all like the most, and then try the others if you did not feel entirely comfortable. You can choose to shave it, wax it or use depilatory methods. If you are looking for a more definite option, you can choose between plucking, electrolysis, laser or bleaching. 

As trends stand now, however, you will probably want to keep your hair. Specially if you grow a beard. Big beards are sexy!

GAY HANKY CODES

The Hanky Code is a traditional form of signalling to others what yoursexual preferences and interests are. Gay men used this code to communicatewith each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars. Althoughnot as widely used these days, it is still a worthwhile resource and is,among those who know, a great conversation starter.

Seven key gay styles

The cloneOrigins: Subcultural habitat: The End-Up nightclub, San Francisco.Crossover moment: Tom Selleck as Magum PI, the Village People.

The dilly boyOrigins: The rent boys of yore plying their trade at Piccadilly Circus.Subcultural habitat: Smoking a Virginia Slim louchely under Eros with a Jean Genet paperback.Crossover moment: Bowie, Lou Reed, Christiane F, Suede.

The Vogue queenOrigins: Harlem Vogue balls.Subcultural habitat: A makeshift catwalk on the Chelsea Piers; Paris Is Burning.Crossover moment: Madonna, Malcolm McLaren, streetdance.

The muscle MaryOrigins: YMCA locker rooms and Physique Pictorial magazine.Subcultural habitat: Trade.Crossover moment: Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein, David Gandy for Dolce and Gabbana, and David Beckham for Armani underwear.

The bearOrigins: Christopher Street.Subcultural habitat: The King’s Arms, Soho, London.Crossover moment: Ted, beard oil, Rag’n’Bone Man.

The scallyOrigins: All Ralph Lauren concessions, department stores, the north, 80s.Subcultural habitat: Frank Clarke’s 1988 film The Fruit Machine.Crossover moment: The Streets, Skins, Slaves, Hollyoaks.

The CocketteOrigins: The late-60s hippy communes of San Francisco.Subcultural habitat: Falling over, high, on stage.Crossover moment: Kenny Everett as Cupid Stunt, David Walliams in Little Britain.

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Anal sex positions

Most of these gay sex positions are anal sex positions, but there are some non-penetrative sexual positions at the end too.

If you’re after more anal sex reading, here’s another general guide on how to have anal sex that covers douching, communication, lube and some other stuff.

Top, bottom or versatile?

We’re going to look at gay sex positions from the point of view of a top and a bottom.

If you’re versatile (and we encourage you all to be), lucky you, you can do both. In some gay sex positions the top leads the action, and in some the bottom takes the lead.

Interested in finding out why some guys are top and some are bottom? Here’s a scientific study from 2017 that talks about it.

Try the gay missionary position first

This gay sex position may sound boring, but it’s not, we promise. It’s one of the easiest positions for a top, and not especially difficult for a bottom.

During gay sex, if you’re engaging in foreplay and sucking his cock while he’s laying down, keep licking, kissing and sucking as you move your mouth down towards his balls.

Then go further, toward his perineum (the bit between his balls and his ass) and then his butthole.

Bottom: if you’re enjoying this, give him a few moans and wriggle your asshole a bit closer to where his tongue is.

If he’s keen, keep eating his ass. Open his ass cheeks and get in there deep with your tongue. If you can, and body shapes and sizes depend on this, lift his ass up a bit.

Seeing eye to eye

The gay missionary position is good for maintaining eye contact and clear communication during anal sex.

You can penetrate your partner slowly and carefully, keeping an eye on the target. You can build up a momentum that you’re both comfortable with. And it’s easy to get back in if you slip out, because you can see everything clearly.

Now try riding a guy’s cock

If you’re new to getting f**ked, or nervous about taking a big dick, this gay sex position could be good for you, because as a bottom, you’ll have the control.

It’s a good one for gaining confidence when it comes to taking cock – if it starts to hurt, you can slow down, and lower yourself onto him at your own pace.

You need a certain amount of athleticism to be able to ride your man. You want to be going up and down, and slightly back and forth, at the same time. A bit like riding a horse.

If you’re bigger built than your top, or if you’re a bigger guy in general this one can be tricky as gravity is against you. Be careful not to crush the chap under you or he’ll be at risk of losing his erection.

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