This article was published on July 31st, 2013
When heterosexuals talk to gay guys, one question commonly comes up time and time again… Are you the man or the woman in relationship? Or, Who will wear the dress and who will wear the tux at your wedding? Well, here’s a newsflash – gay men don’t conform to the same terms as heterosexuals.
Although a gay man may identify himself as being masculine, feminine, or in-the-middle, when it comes to roles in a relationship, gay men don’t identify as the man or women. Roles in relationships aren’t necessarily based on masculinity or femininity; gay men relationship roles don’t conform to straight society norms. Sorry, you’ll have to think completely differently to understand each partner’s role in a gay relationship.
Gay men identify as one of three roles: top, bottom, or versatile.
Top: Prefers to penetrate
Bottom: Prefers to receive
Versatile: Will penetrate or receive
In the heterosexual world it’s easy. If you are a man to identify a potential partner the first qualifier is that they have to be female, and from there the process of elimination begins to seek out the right partner. In the gay world it is more complicated. Gay men have to first qualify if the other man is gay, and then they have to as the question, what role to they play. Two tops or two bottoms make for a difficult match in the gay world, whereas two versatile guys would make for an ideal match.
Want to make it even more complicated? Try adding in layers of complexity like if they are dominant or submissive, or if they are a twink, bear, jock, or queen. Gay man have so many additional layers in the evaluation process of finding a partner, keeping in mind that only 1/10 guys in gay, and of that, not all men are out. So the pool of gay men to choose from is incredibly small, compared to the pool of available people in a heterosexual world.
So next time you want to ask if your friend is going to wear the dress at his wedding, stop and realize that gay men do not conform to your heterosexual terms, and talk to them in their language. Gay men have no problem telling other people what role they play – it’s how the gay world works.