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‘The Joy of Gay Sex’ Is 40 Years Old, So Let’s Celebrate by Drooling Over Its Sexy Illustrations! (NSFW)

If you had a sex education class in your school at all, chances are it was incredibly un-sexy, hetero-centric and focused on zygotes, fetal development and abstinence — that is, nothing that would actually help you get laid. The lack of sex education back in 1977, particularly for gay and bisexual men, likely compelled Dr. Charles Silverstein to create The Joy of Gay Sex.

The 207-page book served as a how-to guide with chapters on blowjobs, cruising and dirty talk, a gay Kama Sutra with suggested sex positions like “the crab” and a cultural guide with non-sexual chapters on the realities of coming out, gay politics, racism and more.

The book also challenged audiences with chapters covering fisting, JO clubs and watersports — fetishes you’d rarely see in gay porn or anywhere else at the time — potentially offensive sections on sex with animals and teenagers and sections exploring the diversity within the gay community, with entries for bisexuality, transgender and mixed HIV couples.

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The 1977, 1992 and 2003 editions of “The Joy of Gay Sex”

In short, The Joy of Gay Sex provided a lot more than just sex tips; it provided a social education to help gay men deal with complex psychological and social issues while pushing even further into sexual content and social ideas unlike anything ever published.

Most infamously, Silverstein and his co-author, celebrated gay novelist Edmund White, wanted the book to be sexually stimulating. So the original and subsequent editions all contained explicit illustrations styled after popular sex comics of the time. The unabashed drawings of erect penises, willing bottoms and group scenes got the book banned in libraries and bookstores across North America and England.

Though the original edition is now out of print, Silverstein and gay novelist Felice Picano released a second and third edition in 1992 and 2003. By 1992, the HIV epidemic had made the book’s creators reexamine the importance of celebrating gay sex in an age when anal sex could kill you, and by 2003, the internet had made it easier than ever for gay men and sex fetishists to hook up and celebrate the joy of gay sex.

Silverstein has since gone on to win numerous awards from the American Psychological Association for his professional contributions to gay psychological health — he still runs a private practice in New York City. Furthermore, 2017 marks the book’s 40th anniversary, so we’re celebrating with a small handful of illustrations from first-edition artists Julian Graddon and Michael Leonard and third-addition illustrator Joseph Phillips.

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(image via Julian Graddon)
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(image via Michael Leonard)
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(image via Joseph Phillips)
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(image via Joseph Phillips)