Unhung Heroes: Gay Men with Small Penises

The current March, 2005 issue of OUT magazine includes Erik Piepenburg’s article titled Is Small Beautiful? His article focuses on gay men with small penises. The journalist interviewed Robert Woodworth, a 59-year-old gay man and Director of Institutional Services at New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. Woodworth began an ongoing series of discussions about gay men and their penises, which led to a four-week support group for gay men who feel theirs are small.

Bravo to these men! They are truly unhung heroes, willing to disclose their genital size and come out of their fly, as well as the closet. What pressure they must feel as men—particularly in the gay community—where penis size is talked about so relentlessly and so judgmentally, as if it were a measure of the whole man.

I’m sure there must be many, many jokes about it. When I was researching this article, one colleague asked me, “Is it a small support group?” “How long will your article be?” another colleague inquired. Snicker all you want, but the real joke is on all of us men—gay and straight alike—since such remarks make many of us feel self-conscious about our size. When I hear any gay man make a small penis comment—particularly in front of others in my gay men’s groups or workshops—I cringe to think of those insecure men who might feel badly or those who just worry about their size in general.

Guys Turned to the Wall

Guys Gone Wild, a companion DVD to the original Girls Gone Wild that’s been available for a while, displays men’s buttocks more than their frontal nudity. I know this from having watched Guys very carefully, and more than once (strictly for research purposes, of course). Why--you might ask--do we view so many butts more than penises? The reason, I suggest, is that men in general worry about their penis size. It seems safer to moon the camera or flash your behind— the worst criticism you might receive is that it’s too hairy, too flabby, or sports too many pimples. But one of the most hurtful insults you can say is that a man’s penis is too small.

What is Too Small—Really?

The standard for penis size was set by the Kinsey Institute in the 1960's. Alfred Kinsey and his merry men studied American college-age men and found that 80 percent of fully erect penises measured between 5 and 7 inches (long), with most falling in the 6- to 6 1/2-inch range. But size queens beware! Despite what you might surmise from gay personal ads, less than 1 percent of those erections Kinsey witnessed in the flesh exceeded 8 inches. The odds against finding a true 9-incher are a thousand to one, but still considerably better than winning at Lotto. The difference between AOL inches and real-life inches is in the eye of the owner, not the beholder.

But does the rarity of those knitting needles in the haystack make any one of us men feel any better? Nope. Men are hung in different sizes, widths, directions, shapes and each of us is different, whether hard or soft. Some men are show-ers and some men are growers. Still, going to at a nude beach or locker room, men with bigger and longer flaccid endowment are more fortunate. They have less to worry about in terms of being judged and found wanting, or hearing snide remarks made about them. Even if their four-inch softie doesn’t grow when erect, straight guys in a locker room, bathhouse or nude beach won’t know that. The guy who might boast only 1 to 2 inches soft and grow to 8 inches hard, still feels self-conscious, thinking that when at ease, everyone sees him as too small, even though at attention, he knows he’s not!

Measures for Manhood and Masculinity

What we’re really talking about here is how much of a man someone is. And we tend to measure masculinity by various standards—by how tall or short he is, how successful or wealthy or athletic or stoic . . . the list goes on. All these measurements are on outward qualities, and how sad this all is. We need to look more at the inside, evaluating a man by his integrity, responsibility, talents, eloquence, and accountability. Why not measure a man by the size of his heart? That way, you’ll wind up with more satisfactions than you’ve ever dreamed of!

©2009 by Joe Kort

Related: Issues, Books

Psychotherapist Joe Kort, MA, MSW, has been in practice since 1985. He specializes in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy as well as IMAGO Relationship Therapy, which is a specific program involving communication exercises designed for couples to enhance their relationship and for singles to learn relationship skills. He also specializes in sexual addiction, childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, depression and anxiety. He offers workshops for couples and singles. He runs a gay men's group therapy and a men's sexuality group therapy for straight, bi and gay men who are struggling with specific sexual issues. His therapy services are for gays and lesbians as well as heterosexuals. His articles and columns have appeared in The Detroit Free Press, Between the Lines Newspaper for Gays and Lesbians, The Detroit News, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Mirror, and other publications. Besides providing therapy for individuals and couples, he conducts a number of groups and workshops for gay men. Now an adjunct professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne State University's School of Social Work, he is doing more writing and workshops on a national level. He is the author of 10 Smart Things Gay Men can do to Improve Their Lives and 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love. or E-Mail

* Gaydar (gay'.dahr, n.): (1) The ability that lets gays and lesbians identify one other. (2) This column--where non-gay readers can improve their gaydar, learning more about gay men's psychology and social lives. Also, (3) a regular feature where gay readers can discover the many questions and hassles their straight counterparts--and themselves--must face!

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