An underground discrimination war is being waged on the gay scene. More vicious than waxed vs hairy, more divisive than Madonna vs Gaga.. BUT, when the battle reach your domain (as its bound to do)- which side will you take?
Top or Bottom?
Ok, there is no actual war but there is a clear division. One of the first things a young gay man must decide; is he a taker or a giver.
Asking your gay sexual preference appears to be a perfectly acceptable date question. The homo equivalent of asking a taxi driver ‘what time he gets off?’ seems to be ‘How do you get off?’ We may as well tattoo it on our foreheads.
Intrigued and bewildered, I rounded up my friends and shipped them to the nearest gay bar to see if the issue had a wider reach than the gay community.
“Of course, you’ve gotta ask. It’s a round hole, square peg kinda thing” – Peter, my bulky, kick-boxing, painfully straight friend, concludes. ‘Why would you waste your time chatting someone up if it wasn’t gonna… you know… fit.’
Maybe it is simply a case of matching pairs. North and south, east and west, Dolce and Gabanna. Perhaps tops and bottoms are the opposite ends of the gay magnetic pole; when two tops meet they can never quite be pushed together, instead they twist and bend, energetically repelling each other (or do they?).
A quick internet search (not recommended on a work laptop) reveals it’s not as simple as that. We don’t live in a world of top vs bottom: there’s total top, complete top, power top, service top… quite frankly they’re starting to sound like a pneumatic drill. I’m not sure whether to look for one in G-A-Y or Black and Decker.
“That’s another term for it; Black and Decker,” Suzy, our resident little fag hag chimes, “Decker being the bottom decking, Black being the -”
“WE GET IT!”
What’s worrying is these terms don’t simply reflect the genital tool or the physical position – the connotations run far deeper. Submissor – aggressor. Passive – active. Bucket – spade. These terms are actively judging the individual involved.
“The bottom is definitely more of a girl.” chrips in Peter.
“Well, it takes a whole lotta man to take a massive cock!” claims Suzy.
It’s hard to deny that we associate certain stereotypes within the categorisation. Try the game for yourself. In a bar, ask your friends to guess who’s top, who’s bottom and you’ll start to notice a pattern.
It may be jest, but this glittered Salem witch trial displays a clear negativity toward the bottom. The name alone suggests it is beneath a top. You’re only an okay-gay, if you’re not a too gay-gay.
General statistics, though, sway favourably towards bottoms. A study of online gay dating profiles showed 24.6% preferred top, while 31.92% claimed bottom. 41.62% were versatile. A further study of gay pornography showed 82.4% were versatile at some point.
Versatility: Does this suggest that eventually we all have to take one for the team?
“Surely that’s just being greedy. Like a bisexual.” Peter continues, with the voice of unprejudiced insight. Being versatile is not necessarily a choice. The study shows the male with the larger penis is more likely to be the top. In this case nature outweighs nurture and indicates we were born this way.
“It’s a bit of both. People expect it don’t they. They clap one look at you and take you for a taker,” Matti sadly surmises correctly about me. I don’t mind, I like it, but I kinda felt like that’s what I was encouraged to be.
My attention is drawn to the only lesbian of the group, Lee-Anne, who has remained surprisingly mute. Surely she must face the same problem, my comrade in arms, the light to my sabre.
“Nah, we just take turns.”
Oh. Well that sounds nice. It seems so simple and caring to say ‘lets just share’.
What surprises me most is the compulsion to categorise ourselves at all. Is it not enough that we are forced as a society to divide ourselves into gay, straight and bi and face the assumptions and prejudices associated with that, without further having to categorise ourselves into tiny little boxes based on our duvet down-time?
We may have needed those stereotypes to identify ourselves in an era when gay wasn’t the norm, but it’s doubtful we still do now.
In an age where the gay struggle is stronger than ever, shouldn’t we all just stand together… on top?