The rising use of the MSM or Men Who Have Sex With Men terminology has been largely decried by the gay and bisexual male community.

THEGAYUK recently undertook a survey to ask readers who identify as gay, bisexual and male what they thought of the term “Men Who Have Sex With Men” or the initialism MSM. The term’s use has become more and more prevalent by health organisations, pharmaceutical companies, educational establishments and other specialists when talking about health or sexual issues to do with gay and bisexual men.

The results were unequivocal. 80 percent of those surveyed said that their preferred term when grouping gay and bisexual men was simply, the usage of “gay and bisexual men”. It was the number one preference by a landslide.


Only 13 percent of those who took part in the poll replied that MSM was their preferred term. Even less popular was the term Queer men.

Only 7 percent said that was the preferred terminology.

When we delved into why MSM was so unpopular. Forty-four percent of those who took part in the poll thought it was “too clinical” whilst 31 percent thought that the terminology added to gay and bisexual erasure. Sixteen percent were keen to point out that organisations wishing to communicate with heterosexuals or non-LGBT people wouldn’t use the terms “men who have sex with women” or “women who have sex with men”.


Just under 10 percent thought that the term negated other struggles of LGBT people.

Editor in Chief of THEGAYUK, Jake Hook said,

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“I was told, by one pharmaceutical company that the words “gay” and “bisexual” weren’t reaching all the clients that they were hoping to reach – that “MSM” was more inclusive and less alienating.

“Well, If a man who is having sex with men, but doesn’t want to label himself as gay or bisexual, I doubt that he’ll gladly attach MSM as a label to himself. I’d argue that MSM actually is alienating those who have come out as gay or bisexual. It’s clunky, it’s purely sexual and it’s already a messaging service from Microsoft.”


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