Are You a Side? Grindr Now Acknowledges New Sexual Definition

Monday June 20, 2022

A screenshot from Michael Henry's video explaining the term 'side.'
A screenshot from Michael Henry's video explaining the term 'side.'  (Source:YouTube)

Are you a side?

In the hook-up world, users on such apps as Grindr or Scruff are given three choices as to their sexual practices: Top, bottom, or versatile.

But what of those who feel they don't fit into these categories? Grindr has come up with a solution, The Guardian writes.

"Last month, however, that finally changed. In mid-May, Grindr added a position called side, a designation that upends the binary that has historically dominated gay male culture," The Guardian adds. "Sides are men who find fulfillment in every kind of sexual act except anal penetration. Instead, a broad range of oral, manual and frictional body techniques provide a release that's rich in emotional, physical and psychological rewards. Some adherents refer to these activities as 'outercourse'."

The term is derived in 2013 by the sex therapist and author Dr. Joe Kort, but only in the past year has it achieved wider usage. Kort created a Facebook page "Side Guys" to give the men a forum for acceptance and, perhaps, to start a movement.

"I wanted to create a community," he said. "I wanted to help people get rid of the loneliness and the shame," The Guardian reports.

Those who have joined the page largely come from TikTok, Kort says, including life coach and advocate Barrett Pall, who has 1.4 million followers on the site. "In another breakthrough, Wikipedia recently added a "sides" definition to its 'terminology of homosexuality' entry," adds The Guardian. "At the same time, the LA-based gay comedian Michael Henry has created a hilarious, but sympathetic, mock-tutorial on sides that has earned more than 224,000 YouTube views in the last few weeks, making it one of his most viewed clips."


"In the video, a young guy tells some friends that he's been 'seeing an array of men but not topping or bottoming'. One friend quizzically asks: 'What are you doing with these men? Shaking hands?' After the guy outs himself as a side, Henry asks: 'You mean like a potato?'

"'No,' says the side. 'When it comes to sex, I do everything but butt.'"

Henry says he was inspired to create the piece after hearing some younger men use the term in gay bars in the last year. "It's something people had begun talking about but that not a lot of gay people know about," he tells The Guardian.

While there has been some pushback from those that doubt the viability of the term, with some doubting that someone wouldn't be interested in penetration, Kort says these feelings come from a deep place.

"I've been having these feelings since I was 10," he said. "When anal sex was introduced to me as a college student, I was like: 'It's not going to happen.' People would say, 'What's wrong with you? Are you a virgin?' I felt totally disenfranchised. Finally, in my 40s, I said, 'This is stupid. I'm a therapist! Why am I ashamed of this?'"

Kort adds that while some see this as expressing internalized homophobia, he sees it differently. "He believes that defining penetration as the sole standard for sex is a heteronormative construct that gay people have the opportunity to challenge. "It's mimicking patriarchal crap," he said. "I'm always trying to tell people that all sex acts are sex. It's how you  define it."