Undefining Gay Men: an addendum to yesterday’s post

Gay GuysWhat I posted yesterday about tops and bottoms in MM Romance certainly sparked a lot of discussion—most of it good.  But there also seemed to be a lot of confusion about what my actual point was.  One friend got very angry at me for attempting to define his sexuality.

I wasn’t attempting to define anyone’s sexuality.  I don’t care what you do in bed.  If you like anal sex, go for it.  If you like to be on the bottom or the top, that’s your business.  (Although I still maintain that those labels are, at the very least, falling out of fashion.)

What I am trying to do is to stop people from defining gay men in relation to anal sex.

Being gay is not about anal sex.


I can’t really even blame this attitude on our society, because it’s thousands of years old.  Bizarre connections have been made throughout documented history between men loving men and anal sex.  People are perpetually surprised when they discover that a gay man they’ve met doesn’t like anal sex.  As if such a thing is biologically impossible.

It’s as if all gay men have brands on our foreheads saying LOVES ANAL.

“Hi, have you met my friend Paul?  He loves anal.”

“Oh!  Good to meet you, Anal-Loving Paul!”

“Likewise!  This is my anal-loving husband, Steve.”

“Will I be seeing the two of you at Anal Pride next week?”

I have witnessed one of our state legislators give a lengthy speech about the evils of same-sex marriage, during which she described how filthy anal sex was in graphic, tedious detail.  It is nearly impossible to bring up gay rights without someone mentioning how disgusted they are by two men having anal sex.

We need to stop this automatic connection of gay men to anal sex.  I don’t care if someone likes anal sex.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anal sex.  But being gay is not about anal sex.  I’m gay because I’m sexually and emotionally attracted to men.  It has nothing to do with what I like to do in bed, apart from the general fact that it’s probably going to be with another man.  And referring to ourselves as “tops” or “bottoms” reduces us to roles in anal sex.  Even calling ourselves “versatile” still defines us in relation to anal sex.

I’m not some radical who objects to any and all labels.  I have no problem with the label “gay.”  I’m gay and happy to be so.  But that label doesn’t mean a thing about specific sexual practices.  It says something about attraction and love.  I have no problem with people looking at me and thinking about men loving men.

But I have no interest in people looking at me and thinking about anal sex.

That’s just… no.


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11 responses to “Undefining Gay Men: an addendum to yesterday’s post

  1. Hets like Anal, too… Just saying…

  2. Jon whitney

    Jaime- I agree with your sentiment and the principle of same. I think you have underestimated the power of ignorance; expecting hateful,fear- mongers to either realize the folly of their mindset, or, to want to educate themselves by actually talking to the LGBTIQ community will only continue to frustrate you. The solution is education, but , like the proverbial horse…you may not get them to drink from the waters of enlightenment. Also, people who feel threatened, as many of these so- called Moralists seem to- are more likely to cling to their intolerance, because admitting that they are so limited in their understanding of humanity, weakens their position of power, and “status”. The answer is????? Either waiting for these dinosaurs to become extinct,or, alerting the body snatching, gay, aliens that their are plenty of stupid humans who need to experience the a mind swap

  3. suebrownstories

    I sat on my hands during this debate because I have read posts from guys that say MM books don’t have ‘the conversation’ enough.

    We are all defined by who we are. For instance sexual definition as a woman is inevitable. We are all submissive. We all like being penetrated (het). We are all carpet munchers (lesbian).

    Society defines people by the lowest common denominator. Try being a pregnant woman. Your body becomes the property of every tom, dick and harry. You are labelled ‘baby host’ and lose all autonomy.

    The religious and legislative fanatics are losing the battle and they know it. So they’re trying to frame gay people by sexual actions to dehumanise them. The marriage equality campaign has done so much to reframe gay people as lovers, as couples, as family, so the fanatics are desperate to reduce you down to an act, as they do women as vessels.

    Times are changing, if so slowly, and not all of us define gay people by one single action.

    • I do want to point out that I’m not saying people shouldn’t talk about sex and what they do or don’t like. I’m not advocating that we try to GUESS what our partner’s want without asking. I’m simply saying I don’t like being defined by words like “top” or “bottom” or “versatile,” especially since those words come with so much baggage.

  4. I guess a lot of people, especially straight people think being gay is still a lifestyle, and what gay people do is sordid. It is hard to change people perceptions, like religion.

  5. Many people are doing their best to use the “gross out” factor to swing the pendulum back, like Sue said, but go to any dating site that caters to gay men and one of the first questions they ask is if you are top, bottom, or versatile. I think this is a great conversation to start and to continue. There are many men who wear “I would bottom you so hard” t-shirts like these: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TooQueer?ref=l2-shopheader-name And some men are more than willing to take on a “role”, if you will. I’m releasing a free story this summer based on a prompt about 2 bottoms falling in love and trying to figure out how to make their relationship work, and they didn’t have the conversation until they were finally ready to sleep together. Writing it really made me rethink all these labels that were completely foreign to me a decade ago, and I think they are too simplistic. I’ve nearly always written about men who do in bed what they feel motivated to do at the moment rather than sticking them into little boxes that trap them, so this freebie was harder for me to grapple with. Keep the conversation going! Great blog.

  6. I thought it was a great article. I think the problem is (and it may sound strange) we are defining a group of people by sexual positions. The true test of love isn’t about sex. Whether we all like it on the top the bottom or the side shouldn’t be an issue.Being gay or straight isn’t about how you like to have sex.Just my little opinion.
    Did I miss the point?

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