Tag Archives: hetero-normative behaviors

Is He A Top Or A Bottom?

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Today while attempting to research for something to blog about I came across this article in the Advocate titled, Six Reasons Why it Sucks to Be a Gay Manthat discussed the different ways that being gay has its downfalls. Never mind the negative tone the name of the article has as it is apparent after reading the first two paragraphs that the author was satirically making a point through humor and I can’t fault him for that.

However there was one particular point on the list that really frustrated me. Maybe frustrate is too strong a word as it’s not so much that I have hostility towards this point, but rather I question the point itself. It talked about how not knowing a potential partner’s sexual role early on can pose problems later on in the relationship. The author implies how it sucks when two gay men get together and are dating only later to find out that they are first in fact bottoms:

4. “Wait … we are both bottoms?”

It’s the third date and you have been on your best behavior with that gorgeous man across the dinner table.  That means no “sexting,” no more than two cocktails, and nothing below the waist … until now.

You think, Finally, this is how dating is supposed to be! You didn’t meet on Grindr or sleep with each other on the first date. You have the same taste in music and even talked about how you both want kids. Everything is perfect!

That is, until things finally start heating up and your thighs keep wanting to go in the same direction as his. After a frustrating make-out session and an awkward discussion in the nude, the reality of your preferred position becomes apparent. Even if one of you may be more “versatile” than the other, you are both bottoms.

So there went the wedding bells, but it could be worse. At least you have a new shopping pal.

This of course would cause problems in any relationship when you have a preference to a specific sexual role; if you’re not into it, you just aren’t. But the first thought I had when I read this point is why would this information be something that you would find out on the third date? When is the right time to ask this question.

And I know that most already know the answers to this question depending on their own experience or belief in common sense but some of us are not as clear on parameters because of inexperience. Or the fact that as the more men you interact with, the sooner you realize that the answer is not as clear cut as you once believed.

Because despite what the media, and sometimes what our own beliefs about the validity in stereotypes of gay men, we know deep down that we are a very diverse group of men so you can’t just go by appearance. Or how they walk. Or how they talk. Their profession. All of these demographics don’t automatically tell you this crucial information that will at some point will mean something to both of you.  And despite their popularity, we don’t always have the convenience of social dating apps like Grindr to blatantly list what are our sexual preferences.

Some may be saying right now, “all that stuff doesn’t matter, it’s all about the connection”. Well like it or not sex is a component of that connection. Granted, it is not the only connection two people can share with each other or the only way to physically express affections for one another but it is still an important part to intimacy. Remember that as men we react first by what they see, so we also base our future behaviors on what we see in the present and foreseeable future.

You may have sex on the first date or may not have sex for the first six months of dating someone new, but a lot of the attraction may be centered on how you were attracted to him in the first place. So the discussion needs to happen at some point well before you make it to the bedroom one night to take your relationship further. So this will come up at some point.

But the question is of course when. When do approach sex roles in potential partners? So how would you approach the matter if it weren’t so apparent? Would you bluntly ask? Going up to someone and saying hi, I’m (insert name) and I’m wanted to know if you’re a top or bottom” probably won’t go over too smoothly. We can all appreciate a direct inquiry but you’re more than likely to offend someone with a question that is so intimate and  private.

Would a better way to approach the dilemma be to enact on a series of vague questions to find out the answer? What an icebreaker that could be, if done correctly. There’s drawback to that as well. A lot of guys do not like these types of long-winded, mull around the bush questions (including myself). After a while they can come off as condescending and suggests that you are too much the inquisitor rather than potential lover.

Maybe the best approach would be a combination of the first two scenarios. But instead of asking them, under no uncertain terms declaring what sexual role you prefer. For instance at some point providing information about your own preferred sexual role (without being vulgar or inappropriate), you suggest how much you love leading your dance partner on the floor and doing a very sensual rumba. And that doesn’t have to include actually discussing sex itself. But that can be seen as being too forward.

Maybe that approach is too forward as well, suggesting cockiness and that you just assumed what you believe is their sexual role. the whole guessing game and these tactics you employ can be tiresome. Honestly I don’t think this situation of later on finding out two guys are both bottoms happens that often as natural chemistry will express what each of your roles are. So maybe listening is the true key. Maybe there are subtle indications that can help that we don’t pay attention to often. Maybe that was what the author was suggesting.

I believe it’s important to ask why we have such a hard time approaching this topic in the first place. The biggest reason is the result of what the roles themselves imply. Being a top implies masculinity and strength as well as dominance while being the bottom signifies submissive, feminine attributes. One of the problems arises is when we take those sexual roles we assign ourselves outside the bedroom and apply it to everyday life.

It’s no secret that in the gay community that the bottom is the brunt (no pun intended) of many jokes. And is seen as a negative attribute, especially by those that carry heteronormative practices of misogyny into the gay community. That means they, like chauvinistic men in the rest of society associate anything feminine as being weak.

We can blame it on media, or upbringing as much as we want but the truth is we are responsible for correcting those ill-conceived beliefs into the community. As I’ve stated before, we have to take accountability for not repeating the mistakes we advocate against. Basically, remember what I said earlier about every guy being different? That’s the most important thing you can do. And be honest in however you discuss it.

Lastly, don’t ever question what sexual role he says he prefers and take him at his word. Just the way you would want to not be scrutinized by whatever your preferred sexual role is for you.  If you either don’t believe or accept that then kindly move on to some other topic or someone else.

I won’t tell you which method is right or wrong because that is not my job description in this setting  However I will say to always remember how you want to be addressed when this question is asked of you and how you’d respond accordingly. The chemistry will say more than any line of questioning you can think up and provide you with the answer when necessary. And guys, always do it with respect. Perceive each man, regardless of the position he prefers, is still a man and a human being. Remember and respect that.

The All Too Relevant Myth About Bisexuality

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“What? You haven’t heard of the myth about bisexuality? The myth about it is that bisexuality doesn’t exist. It’s all for show. It’s so obvious that they’re lying to themselves.  They get to have the best of both worlds with fewer consequences and they are completely greedy. So selfish. They’re doing it to buffer into being gay. Sort of like some gateway. They don’t know how to be monogamous.  Or it’s just made up so that clever gay men not ready to face the truth yet and accept that they’re just as gay as the rest of them. That’s why I never date them. It doesn’t exist.”

This is what a normal conversation looks like that sums up how most men in the gay community feel about bisexuality. So often the only discussion is just a few sentences that deny that it has any legitimacy or accuracy. Either many don’t understand it or simply don’t want as a result of resentment and frustration Instead of the outward appearance of solidarity; bisexuality is one of the most openly condemned subgroups. It’s so easily discarded almost immediately upon mention without any further investigation and not worthy of any more discussion.

And at the end of these superficial conversations, they are always met with the declarative phrase like, “That’s why I don’t date them”. The statement is said with so much vigor and so finite that it seems as if they truly believe that bisexuals as some kind of leper of our community. So many believe that being bisexual is actually some type of detriment to their character. That their sexuality is an actual problem, not just who they are and is met with such disdain. There is always a reason to have such a strong stance something so I ask is there any validity to this stance? What leads so many gay men to view bisexuality in such a negative way to the point that they don’t even believe that it’s possible?

The topic is too often avoided or danced around and as a result, these myths about bisexuality appear and just accepted as truth. The myths are that bisexuality, and more particularly in bisexual men, are often believed to be confused about their sexuality.  Or that bisexual men cannot be in a sustainable, monogamous relationship. More than likely, when the topic is brought up, it is either overstated that this man is gay and just hasn’t come to terms with it or is looking to cushion the blow of coming out. And the most common belief that bisexuality doesn’t exist.

Think about it, when Frank Ocean talked about his relationship with a man last year, most media, bloggers, and news outlets just referred to him as coming out gay. Despite the fact that Ocean has never declared himself as gay, most of the media wouldn’t even entertain the thought the more than likely that he is a bisexual man and completely okay with that. Even after he clarified later that he does not adhere to these labels and further suggested the fluidity of his sexuality, almost everyone just considers him gay. And it’s for reasons like this that I want to examine these aspects of how we categorize (or dismiss) bisexuality and the way they may be true and why some of them are not true at all.

So why do gay men seem to have the biggest problem with other men that declare themselves bisexual? I think there are several reasons for this stigma. First, a believed common trend up until a few years ago was to come out as bisexual to “ease” into the gay community. It’s believed that you were likely to still garner some praise from the straight community as you still had “normal” behaviors by being attracted to women. It meant that you are still a man and weren’t a complete lost cause and just needed to find the right woman. It’s perceived that going this route makes coming out as easier because at one point, these men enacted in acceptable behavior.

It’s true that some men that now identify as gay once categorized themselves as bisexual. I have several friends that have done so and for the very reason of it being easier and admitted later that they felt it would make it easier. But you can any of us really fault them for this? We come from a society that adamantly rejects any notion of a man embracing anything seen as “feminine”. So even bisexual men are criticized the same as those that identify as gay.  So maybe this trend did have very apparent drawbacks. Maybe the result of some gay men coming out initially as bisexual, made it harder for some to believe that there are in fact legitimacy of bisexual men in our community.

But these men are still attracted to men whether they identify as gay or bisexual. Why are we so critical when someone decides to take an “easier route”?  We all know the process of coming out and how it can be a constant unrelenting challenge both internally and from society. Why wouldn’t we want to further complicate someone’s life by adding to the challenges? That’s what happens when bisexual men are judged in this manner and makes coming out even more challenging by adding stress to this process. All of this scrutiny leaves a harder road for the bisexual man. Because instead of feeling welcomed in a community that should openly support him he feels like he has to choose to be gay or just a straight man that occasionally experimented with guys.

However the same is not true for bisexual women. Actually the truth is that bisexual women are praised for being adventurous and sexy. In both the straight and gay community. Taking on the aspects that are both masculine and feminine, like a tomboy, are heavily sought after. Many things that he may have perfectly blended together are now about him attempting to project an image that is most accepted. Even gay men praise and hold in high esteem women that are able to blend masculinity and femininity in their sexuality. But the truth is that the only reason that is accepted with bisexual women is because women are viewed by our misogynistic society as sexual fetishes.

So there is somewhat of a double standard at play here. It’s okay for a woman in our society to be bisexual because so often masculinity, in any form,  is romanticized and depicted as the accepted standard. It’s okay for both men and women to be attracted to masculine qualities. But as always any feminine attribute or anything associated with the feminine gender (like being attracted to men by other men) is disputed and rejected. Men are not allowed to be attracted to what women are attracted to or exhibit feminine qualities.

On some level, when we meet bisexuality in men with such trepidation we are advancing those oppressive beliefs. As a result we erroneously carry those societal norms into our community and project them onto bisexual men. We are carrying those same notions that feminine is bad and masculine is good. Horrible thought that the behaviors and attitudes towards bisexuality drive people to make the same hasty decisions like picking a side. They should be able to express their sexuality openly as we do without the criticism that we faced when we came out as gay. They feel misunderstood and unwelcome, and it’s contradictory when they are condemned by gay men.

What all this information should address to those naysayers is for you to reflect and remember that when you came out, you more than likely had a plethora of straight men  promoting this religious propaganda by telling you that this was some phase you were somehow talked into by some delinquents. We also need to remember that sexuality at its foundation has always been a fluid concept. Why? Because we are all different with varying degrees of sexual attraction, expression, and behavior.

We have all learned, sexuality may be fluid and changing. Whether it is small incremental changes to huge monumental moments we change and grow. And while I’m not saying that the category in which your sexuality is placed changes or that everyone is bisexual, the way you categorize or label your sexuality can change. So we need to be sure that we don’t criticize these men and support them, regardless of how they identify their sexuality.

What makes this talk about bisexuality relevant is that the myths are believed without question or any further examination. It’s ignorance and even more so ironic that these beliefs are held by gay men more than anyone else. These negative reactions are a consequence of conditioning from society and we need to be cognizant to not exhibit the same oppressive mannerisms.

We don’t talk enough about the things that we do to each other within our community and how some of our behaviors ask members of this community to conform to our beliefs. We cannot advocate such archaic heteronormative behaviors as we see enough of that from places like Grindr that have profiles asking for  “straight only” “no femmes” “masc only”. They are on the same makeup of the negative gay stereotypes that we campaign against. So let’s not criticize what someone defines their sexuality as, especially when they belong to our community.