Top, bottom equals dominant, submissive?
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I took an informal leave of absence from being queer many years back. Rather I stopped caring about sex or being gay. An artifact of my five-year flirtation with heterosexuality.
The designations 'top' and 'bottom' for preferences in gay sex emerged while I was homo hiatus. I think I discovered them via the AOL chatrooms: "Any tops here tonight" was a common question, lament.
Beats some of the terminology for queer sexuality I can remember from long ago:
Greek (anal) active (top)or passive (bottom: sodomized).
French (oral) active (bottom) or passive (top: sucked).
Or so you read them in personal ads. Nobody ever asked me if I was Greek active (yes, and how!).
Don't think versatile was about back then (yeah, sure, it is all fun).
In my recollection the gay world was divided between butch and femme guys. But my memory would be, wouldn't it. Not that I remember anybody saying they were butch (but perhaps I wouldn't). Nor anyone bragging that they were femme. I think the latter was seen mostly in those immortal words of the old personals: "no fems or fatties!" (Is that available on a t-shirt?)
There was the innocent divide between those of us who liked pretty boys (which is almost but not quite what twink means now) and hairy men (happy to be one but never wanted one).
Lots of gay guys back then were very fey. Some were surely straight seeming (hence blocked from visibility by my special blinders). What I do remember is the frequent wish for a "real man." A sensibility that reached it's nadir in the older queens' folklore that only heterosexual men were, uh, real (too much so, don't you think?).
My sense of 'top' and 'bottom' is mostly that it distinguishes those who enjoy being inside a guy's bottom from those whose greatest delight is having a man inside them. Being given to nutty abstract sexual curiosity I've often wondered if the term applies equally to anal sex and fellatio. Many gay tops seem almost heterosexual in their aversion to being penetrated. Are they equally opposed to fellating their partner? Admittedly given the number of gay men for whom sucking cock is the supreme moment of their days they may not want to be on the other side.
Hell, I don't know. Typically I have yet to arrive at what I meant to be this entry's theme.
I've been wondering about the sense or role and personal erotic imagery associated with being a top or bottom. Does the sexual preference encompass more than a liking for having certain nerve endings stimulated?
One fellow I was reading seemed to equate being a bottom with being submissive. Sexually submissive at least. I don't think history would accord with a view that equated a desire to be penetrated with humility. In a weblog I read lately the word top was used as a synonym for S&M master. That was a surprise. It invests considerable role in being the man who fucks or is fucked. Not to imply that it can't or shouldn't be. Many guys like to play or be forced to act the bitch and others in placing them in that erotic mental space. But not every gay man. Or I suspect most. Doggie style, as I guess it has to be called for want of someone being more inventive, is the easiest style of sodomy. You can add a leash but you can't kiss or look each other in the eye. Those being the chief glories of frotting. Though many frotters ideologize the absence of penetration. Another vote for the Foucault position that penetration implies a role.
It can. But it seems a loss of nuance to write as though it always does.