Related Articles: LGBT, All

Top Down, Bottoms Up

Room for Squares

There is a great divide that has always torn apart our community. It’s a difference whose roots reside at the very heart of how we define ourselves. Which side you most connect with has the power to potentially glorify your future or doom you to banality. It involves the tireless exchange between the "haves" and the “have-nots”, where the struggle for power lies at the center of the question: top or bottom?

Long before sexual relations with other men became a physical reality for me, I had already been asked this question by a playground buddy: “Are you a top or a bottom?” I didn’t think much of it at the time, I guess because I hadn’t even gone through puberty yet, so I don’t really remember how I responded. But when someone asked me this question recently at a bar, I suddenly felt a completely different response.

Hmm…let me think. Top or bottom? One brings to mind images of gold medal champions, of superior military might and of rippled superheroes. The other one, memories of…Screech Powers. Who in his right mind would willingly place himself in a category with the latter? Even in my sexual infancy, I probably knew that it was considered better to be on top than on bottom. There was no way in hell I was going to answer this guy. I can’t be the only one who thinks that this is a totally loaded question, right?

It’s easy to assume that by answering one either way, all you’d be doing is engaging in some sort of exchange that might ultimately determine your sexual compatibility. And at the end of the day, knowing that you’d probably enjoy being led out of the bar with your hands tied behind your back, wouldn’t make it a difficult question to answer. But wouldn’t it be wiser to first make sure this guy has the keys to those handcuffs before you start relinquishing the power?

I know it sounds like I’m reading too much into the question. I mean, it’s a pretty basic one regarding sexual preference. It should be as simple as whether you prefer to write left or right handed. Granted, the whole sexual conquest thing adds a little bit to the stakes, but when it comes down to it, all anyone wants to know is whether you like to give or to receive. After all, relationships, even purely sexual ones, are still a two way street that require some basic give and take action.

But the truth is that it’s never that simple; in fact, it’s rather complicated. The difference, at least the way I see it, lies in the divide between the conqueror and the conquered, the West and the East. One is the constant victor and the other remains forever the spoils. It’s a relationship game that should only be played out in the privacy of your bedroom or the public restroom (whichever comes first) but most definitely not at the front end of a bar. C’mon, is it so much to ask for just a little more tact?

It’s a scenario that probably plays itself out all the time. Big, strapping fellow sees reserved flamer at the end of the bar and thinks to himself, “Hmm…flaming, nelly bottom = quick, easy conquest”, never even pausing to consider the benefits of smooth talking. But the disappointment in this exchange lies less in his delivery and more in his assumption. That someone who is not built like Mars must necessarily be from Venus is a joke. There are those of us who may appear lacking in armor but who are in fact well armed. And vice versa…of course.