Who’s On Top?

Posted on August 29, 2012


Warning: This is what a post looks like when I’m trying to think something through that has too many layers and on which I have done very little to no research at all. In other words, this post is all over the place. Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

When I was starting to deal with my sexuality, and had begun experimenting with boys, it was never about trying to figure out who was a top and who was a bottom. I don’t even remember the first time I heard about bottoms and tops. I do remember the first time someone asked me if I was the boy or the girl in the relationship. I remember it very clearly because I had no idea what to answer. I was with D at the time, and a High School friend who I had just come out to (I was still quite closeted!) uttered the words that I would hear almost every single time I would come out to someone hereafter.

K: So…are you the boy or the girl in the relationship?

Me: [silence and confused look]

K: You know: You know…in bed. Are you the man or the woman?

M: Sometimes I receive, and sometimes he receives. It depends, I guess.

K: That’s weird.

For the few years after that, I dealt with that issue in pretty much the same way. D, and the two boyfriends that followed were as open sexually as I was. We never discussed specific roles. It was just whatever would happen would happen. Sometimes I topped, sometimes I bottomed. It came naturally (no pun intended).

But the straights kept asking me if I was a man or a woman.

Then I met A. He was slightly older, quite closeted, and a total bottom. It was weird for me. He had defined himself as such and there was no arguing. He would be the bottom of the relationship.

And then came W. Total bottom.

Then O. Pure top.

Then L. Power bottom.

Suddenly, something happened, and people were sticking to one position, and I was stuck as the other. I just accepted things as they were and realized that actually, almost everyone around me had, without me even noticing, made up their mind on whether they are tops or bottoms.


For a long time, I actually felt a sense of pride that gay couples could actually be quite equal. Anything you do to me, I can do right back to you. That was great. It was fair, balanced, and enjoyable for everyone. It might sound stupid and naïve (and it is), but it was one of the things that made me more comfortable with being gay: it was equal, free of gender stereotyping, and, I thought, free of labels within the community.

I don’t know where this need to identify as a top or bottom comes from. I haven’t done any research. I’d be interested to know if it is something created by the gays, or whether it is a response to the expectations of the straights and society at large.

Is it that the heterosexual community cannot fathom that, in a relationship, any relationship, two people can be equal, in bed and in life? Is it that gay people have a need to replicate what is all around them by assigning sexual roles for each other?

Another troubling level to this, it that your role in bed obviously has an impact on your legal status in Lebanon. If you’re a pure top, the law doesn’t recognize you as gay, it seems. Is that because it’s not macho enough to bottom? Too feminine for society?

Also, I think most people automatically associated the more feminine person in the relationship as the bottom, and experience has shown me that is far from true. Are you more gay if you bottom? Are you more of a man if you only top?


Confession time: My favorite type of man, the kind who I am most sexually attracted to, is the muscled, hairy kind, with a touch of femininity, who has no issues bottoming with the right partner. In the gay world, we unfortunately call these guys Muscle Queens. I am strangely turned on by this contradiction, and for many years, I felt I was sexist because I saw this as a contradiction.

I am rethinking that though. Perhaps I am attracted by the fact that the man, as macho as he may be physically, has accepted his feminine side, and therefore has moved beyond expectation and stereotypes. This is far from being androgynous, but it is kind of combining contradictory gender sterotypes, and I like that.

I think gay couples have the chance to redefine relationships, moving away from male and female roles, in bed and in life. When we define ourselves in terms of our role in bed, then, in many ways, we are emulating a heterosexual couple, don’t you think?


Ok, I’ve blabbed on enough, and probably said lots of crap. The point is, I’d like to hear your thoughts on these things.