Straight to the point: I think we should dismantle the toxic culture within the gay community that conditions us to think that only masculine men are more desirable as sex partners. This notion really hurts the community rather than propel it forward. Part of gay pride is to embrace the nonconforming, push for progressiveness, and accept all forms of sexuality. TAKE DOWN THE PATRIARCHY, as they say.
Why this suddenly became important to me is because I was having a couple of drinks with this guy at his place. He prefaced that nothing turns him on more than intellectual conversations. And so, we had a conversation about the alien segment on the Discovery Channel that was airing. I didn’t say much because it’s not my area of expertise, but we did read an astrology book that broke down our personalities, which added a little more depth to the evening. However, there was no intellectual conversations happening about politics, race, gender, etc. It was just a lot of life dumping and him interrupting every time it was my turn.
He then disappeared for a moment and brought me shorts that were not requested (Not going to lie they were pretty short and kind of tight). There was no reason not to change into them. He was attractive and at least he attempted to have a conversation before wanting sex (even though I don’t mind getting to the point). We laid for no less than two minutes before making out and getting the job done. I guess hearing himself was a turn on. After my comment on how quick it was, he responded with, “I usually fuck tops because they tend to be more masculine.” It was in that moment I was going to test his intellect by challenging his stance on sex and sexuality. Instead I said nothing and laid there thinking about the test he was secretly administering on whether I was masculine enough to have sex with. I obviously unknowingly passed.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I have had guys reject me or not have as much fun because I wasn’t slamming on their chest and throwing them against the wall, or if my ass happened to be hairier that day it was way too masculine. So, I’d shave some off, but for others it was way too feminine. And to my recollection, I’ve been called someone’s bitch because I was a bottom. Listen, it’s okay to have preferences, but if it’s resulting in making someone inferior or less valuable. Then that shit is toxic.
Sleeping next to him that night was so uncomfortable, but I was not going to hike from the Bronx to New Jersey in the middle of the night. As I laid awake trying to convince myself that I was wiser, I couldn’t. He had still won because he got what he wanted. I thought, in every man (or woman) there are both masculine and feminine attributes, but why do we struggle to embrace it. Why did he even say that to me? How do I just roll my eyes at seeing endless dating profiles stating, “No Femes”? How do I avoid thinking to myself, “I have to be less feminine. What angle shows more muscle? Don’t over text it’ll show feminine emotion.”
The answer is obvious. Gay men have always struggled trying to be considered equal to heterosexual men. Also, just because someone is out of the closet doesn’t mean they struggle with internalized homophobia and subconsciously act it out. I just don’t understand why we do it to each other. It’d be better to play straight with a straight man in the closet even though that’d be counterintuitive since you’d be the “feminine” one. But if you came out and now want to call or think of gay people you’re having sex with bitches, weak, or less than because they bottom. Honey let me remind you you’re gay, the closet is right behind if you’re not ready. Take your time.
SIDE NOTE: Any “top” that you have sex with is a bottom. Just clearing the air.
Anyway, words of advice, any guy stating “NO FEMS”, or a guy who is openly gay but wants you to play “the girl” is someone you should stay clear from (unless that’s how you identify). Our community is in constant scrutiny, and why leave yourself susceptible to another person’s internalized homophobia that can impact your mental health.
I fell into this exact trap and I saw myself less of man because that’s what people saw. So I grew comfortable always being the bottom and limited my sexual experiences. I never tried to top, I never did anything new, I was just there to serve that man’s purpose. I found pleasure in it, but I missed out on exploring the different facets of pleasure. I realized this in my mid-twenties and decided to change. Steven Ing from the Advocate provided a new definition of manhood for me apart from sexual positions/preferences, “Men who take pride in their work, enjoy their newfound athleticism, or feel a deep pride and sense of meaning when making the necessary personal sacrifice to care for their families are not experiencing toxic masculinity. They are experiencing a joyful masculinity that blesses them and everyone around them.”
Francisco J Sanchez and Eric Vilain conducted a study titled “Straight-Acting Gays”: The Relationship Between Masculine Consciousness, Anti-Effeminacy, and Negative Gay Identity. The study establishes that a gay men’s focus on masculinity is most evident in the realm of dating and sex. Two questions were asked: One) How important is it to you that your partner (or anyone you maybe dating) appear masculine in public? Second) How important is it to you that you appear masculine in public? Their research concluded that men care about behavior rather than looks.
If someone judges your partner, they are judging your choices and measure your masculinity according to the study. You as the partner begin to feel shame, anger, and so on. Therefore, naturally as humans, gay humans, we defeminize for protection from further alienation, yet again. While also diminishing our power as a community and placing labels like “NO FEMS”, as if it’s embarrassing or something to be ashamed about because effeminate traits are “undesirable”. However, the worst part is that we correlate sexual positions with strength/weakness, male/female, masculine/feminine, and valuable/undesirable. Thus, diminishing sex and identity from being joyous and liberating. Gabriel Arana, a writer at THEM makes a great point, “But also within the queer community itself. We’re judging and excluding one another.” Back to my earlier point, why do we do this to each other.
Being gay should not mean that we are less of a man. Being gay is a sexual orientation it doesn’t obliterate my sexuality/identity as a man. Where I failed was not speaking up when this guy said he usually fucks tops. I failed not speaking up when I was first involved with a man because I don’t think I ever found one that was mentally sane. I didn’t want to waste my breath, but I allowed them to validate their own feelings that I wouldn’t usually be desirable for guys like themselves, but just someone that was there at the moment. All the while invalidating me. There was an awakening that I had before about gay men and their fantasies about sex. My eyes are opened now more than ever. That night he felt great, but I didn’t. Not that the sex wasn’t good because it was and I wanted it, but I didn’t want him. Even though he convinced himself I did because he was a macho man. But isn’t sex always better when you actually want the person for who they are? I wouldn’t know.
But I am at peace with what Ing advocates in his piece, “…real men are able to face the full truth about who they are.” Adopting this ideology is what will protect you. My sexuality doesn’t define my masculinity, but my choices, my self-acceptance, the bravery it takes to take on the scrutiny, and my story makes me strong, not a man, because I choose to identify as a man makes me one. Strength/weakness is not linked to gender or sexual preference. So whether I have some feminine attributes doesn’t mean anything. What matters is how I carry myself and my life that should attract others.
P.S. There’s no shame in being a bottom. They need us. PERIOD.