Labels help us make sense of the world.
We label our nationality, our gender identity, our sexual orientation and so much more. For example, I’m an American. I’m a man. And I’m gay. All of these things help people understand who I am, and how I navigate the world.
But while they may help us organize data in useful ways, labels are but simple boxes into which we place complex realities. Not everything is black and white, and many of our labels come with a certain set of expectations and beliefs. As much as labels help us make sense of the world, they also limit it.
In the gay community, it’s common to ask about one’s preferred sexual role. We’ve adopted the labels of top, bottom or versatile to describe ourselves as the penetrator or the penetrated. And for some gay men, these preferred roles can be quite rigid and non-negotiable. Their are strict tops and strict bottoms, so it can be important to know a potential partner’s role. Indeed, these labels are useful.
But it also feels like these labels have taken on a life of their own. Many gay men identify as “a top” or “a bottom” rather than a person who bottoms or tops. It’s as though the sexual position is an identity onto itself. And, in some ways, it is. We associate so-called bottoms with femininity, submission and meekness. Tops, on the other hand, are associated with masculinity, control and assertiveness. Indeed, the labels of top and bottom bring a certain set of heteronormative baggage, stereotypes and expectations that may or may not reflect a more complex reality.
Many of us are much more nuanced. For example, I enjoy topping certain guys and bottoming for others. In some situations, it’s fun to be fluid. And I’ve had wonderful experiences with dominating bottoms (who top from the bottom), and submissive tops (who bottom from the top). For as diverse and different as gay men are, there’s a full spectrum of idiosyncrasies and subtleties that aren’t reflected in simple labels.
As a gay man, it’s worth asking yourself: Am I a top? Am I a bottom? Or am I a human who enjoys a certain role? Is topping or bottoming something that I do, or is it describing who I am? Is it a verb, or does my preferred sexual position truly deserve to be a noun?
You tell me.
P.S. Creating this post has inspired me to write a future Himeros.tv video called Top From The Bottom which will show a dominating man who takes control while being penetrated. Stay tuned for that!
Through juicy erotic content, Davey Wavey created Himeros.tv for gay men to have hotter sex, to experience toe-curling pleasure and to fulfill their deepest desires. Learn more at Himeros.tv.