10 Fetishes Every Gay Man Should Know

By Alexander Cheves

Fetishes you should know

Two years ago this month, I was sitting on the sofa in my Sir’s living room. It was my birthday. We were getting ready to go to the gym. But first, he said, I should open my presents. Two packages were in front of me on the coffee table.

Our relationship had started more than a year earlier with intense monthly BDSM play sessions. After we stopped playing sexually, we continued to go to the gym together and push each other to live healthier. We still go to the gym together, and today I consider him one of my closest friends. He knows what I like — sexually and otherwise — more than most people in my life, so his presents are always top-notch.

Inside the first package was a bottle of twelve-year Glenlivet, one of my favorite single malt whiskies. The second: a Nasty Pig jockstrap. But it was not just any Nasty Pig jock. I sniffed. That distinctly musky, delicious aroma, which can only be found in the playrooms of gay circuit parties and in gyms across the country, lingered in the stitching.  “I wore it for a few days,” he said. “You’re welcome.”

Used underwear is one of my fetishes.

You may be asking: What is a fetish, and how is it different from a kink? But I’ll reiterate their distinction here. Kinks are “unconventional” sexual interests, like bondage or paddling. That’s it. Fetishes — also called paraphilias —  are objects, materials, features, or articles of clothing, like used jockstraps, that people respond to sexually, and that enhance or facilitate sexual arousal. To clarify: fetish objects are not sexual on their own, like whips or dildos. Fetish objects become sexualized when someone responds to them sexually.

You’ve probably heard of a few obscure fetishes, like high-heeled shoes and rubber duckies. Fetishes are rapidly moving out of their kinky niche and into pop culture. Stay on top of (or under) the trend with this list of 36 fetishes — some well known, others less so — that you need to know about. 


1. Leather

Leather is one of the most commonly fetishized materials, and certainly one of the oldest. Tom of Finland’s 1970s drawings of biker boys, clad in impossibly form-fitting leather, solidified leather as a staple of gay culture. Today, the leather community is global, united by national and international leather competitions that celebrate this fetish at gatherings like the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, International Mr. Leather in Chicago, and Folsom Berlin.

What does a leather event look like? It looks like throngs of men in leather harnesses, jock straps, jackets, boots, gloves, aprons, fully-body uniforms, and other garb. Since many leather fetishists are into many other fetishes and kinks, the leather community is generally considered synonymous with the kink community as a whole. 

Photo source: The Tom of Finland Foundation


2. Rubber

The second most commonly fetishized material is rubber. Rubber guys are usually into the same fetishes and enjoy the same kinks as leather guys, but prefer a different material. They have their own large-scale gatherings like Mister International Rubber, also in Chicago.

It is common for rubber guys to wear full-body suits that cover greater amounts of skin. Rubber is not used for harnesses to the same degree that leather is, although a good leather store and kink supplier like Mr. S Leather in San Francisco will have plentiful options of gear in both materials. 


3. Rope

Here’s a great opportunity to make the distinction between “kink” and “fetish” — a difference which, colloquially, is somewhat arbitrary since many people use the terms interchangeably.

Rope is a common material used in bondage, which is a kink, but rope is not used exclusively. People into bondage may also use duct tape, leather cuffs, chord, zip ties, neckties, and other tools of restraint. But since many kinksters (kinky people) into bondage fetishize rope specifically, rope becomes a fetishized material.

Rope is more rustic and romantic than duct tape. Duct tape is reminiscent of police sirens and robberies — the restraint material you’d use if you want to be tied, gagged, and left in a closet for a few hours. Rope, in contrast, calls to mind your youthful fantasies of getting captured by horny pirates and tied to the mast — and all the wonderful scenarios that follow. 


4. Used Underwear

Used underwear is such common fetish item that big-name escorts, porn stars, and prominent sex figures can usually make a good buck selling their unwashed undies. (Adam Killian, if you’re reading this, I would like to speak with you about a possible business venture.) 


5. Armpits

Also called maschalagnia, armpit fetishes are difficult to explain to those who don’t share them. Our culture views armpits as nasty places on the body. While everyone should probably use antiperspirant before a job interview or family gathering, some of us really enjoy the smell (and taste) of pits, sans deodorant, and get turned on by it. 


6. Skateboarders

This fetish probably falls under the umbrella of “uniform” fetishes, but I separated it since there is not a standard uniform for skateboarders, punks, and alternative guys. Some people, including my former Sir, fetishize the stereotypical look of skateboarders, from their neck tattoos to their lip rings, from their Diamond Supply Co. t-shirts to their Vans shoes. 


7. Uniforms

People who live in the United States are taught from a young age that uniforms should be viewed with respect, especially police uniforms, military uniforms, and firefighter uniforms. These socio-politics of respect naturally morphed into male strippers dressed as firefighters and cops — evidence that uniforms are heavily fetishized by straight and LGBT people alike. 


8. Skinheads

There is a massive (albeit more underground) fetish surrounding guys with buzz cuts, or “skinheads.” This fetish typically overlaps with rubber and skateboarder/punk wear. By extension, buzzing someone’s hair is a common kink practice that is generally seen as a form of humiliation and “ownership.”

Skinheads and the guys who fetishize them tend to also fetishize urine and enjoy fisting. 


9. Razors

Shaving the body is typically seen as a nonsexual activity and part of a mundane, un-erotic self-maintenance regimen. But for some, shaving (themselves and others) is extremely arousing. As a sexual activity, shaving would probably be considered a kink rather than a fetish. But trimmers, razors, and other modes of shaving and cutting body hair are fetishized objects, so they deserve a mention. Guys I’ve met that are into this fetish get aroused from the sensation of electric buzzers running against their skin — and have had more than a few uncomfortable erections in barber chairs. 


10. Duct Tape

Remember how rope is a commonly fetishized bondage material? Duct tape is a close second.

For guys who enjoy getting gagged, duct tape is a staple. Duct tape calls to mind kidnap fantasies and dark hallways, and nothing beats that hot, muffled gagging sound. Note: as sexy as duct tape is, at some point you will have to pull it off, which will hurt. This writer suggests using vet wrap as a nice alternative. 


The list of all fetishes would be much longer. I don’t know if it will be possible to name them ALL. These are ten gay fetishes considered to be the most common. However, nobody can be quite sure about that either. Fetishes are not a topic many people want to discus outside their very small and very closed circles.

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