I’m new to this whole gay thing, and kind of confused. I’ve been doing research, so I know the difference between a top and bottom, but not sure how to tell one from the other. My instinct tells me if a guy acts like a guy and likes guy things, then he’s a top. And if a guy acts like a girl and likes girly things, he’s a bottom. However, the more dates I go on, and the more I’m around gays, the more I realize my instinct is wrong. Can you tell me how you can tell the difference?
Dear Baby Gay11,
Thanks for writing to me. The reason you are confused is because you are trying to understand homosexuality from a heterosexual perspective. You aren’t the first person to make this mistake, and you certainly won’t be the last. Heck I’ve been guilty of doing it. Looking at homosexuality with a heterosexual lens is a natural thing to do, because heterosexual relationships are what most of us grew up learning about and witnessing. We came to understand that there is a man and a woman. The man being the epitome of masculinity, and the woman being the picture of femininity. So, when we try to understand the dynamics between two gay men, we use the traditional man and woman relationship as a reference point.
With this traditional way of thinking, since a bottom is known to use his anus in a way similar to a straight woman is known to use her vagina, one would assume a bottom is attempting to a woman. And therefore, a bottom is probably feminine. Since a top is performing essentially the same sexual role he would be if heterosexual, then one would assume the top is still a “man’s man.” Unfortunately, the dots don’t necessarily connect so easily in real life.
Look, bottom and top roles are not about who acts more masculine or more feminine. It’s really about sexual preference, pure and simple. Whether someone likes to give or receive. And heck, many gay men do both. Are you going to see a lot of feminine gay men that prefer to bottom rather than top? Sure! However, don’t let your idea of masculinity fool you into thinking tops can’t be feminine as well. You won’t know who is who until you “hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
Going forward are my suggestions.
- Don’t make assumptions. You won’t know if someone is a top or bottom for sure until you ask. But only ask if dating someone. It’s inappropriate for you to just walk up and ask folks you barely know what they’re into.
- Don’t get blinded by the booty! Just because a guy has a big butt, does not necessarily mean he is a bottom. This is an incorrect, yet widely accepted myth. It’s right up there with big feet means big penis. (In case you didn’t know, having big feet just means you have big feet.)
- Don’t get hung up on the bottom and top titles. A lot of gay men get so focused on this, and superficially short change themselves from future meaningful relationships. You don’t want to be one of these men.
As always, nothing but love,