When I first started discovering myself, knowing I was gay and what it meant to be gay, I had lots to deal with. I guess we all did.
MOST of us did.
Apart from the usual battle with one's attraction for the same sex, I was too stringent in my thoughts towards homosexuality – towards being a homosexual Nigerian. Too stereotypical. Terminologies learned meant one or at most, two things. In matters of sex, the idea that there was a receiver (Bottom) and a giver (Top) was intuitively there, and then there was the intermediary, the Versatile. I had a hard time understanding it but I did eventually.
This learning stuck with me.
But what I do not get is why these preferences define us as homosexuals?
It's one thing to be defined by your sexual orientation. It's another to be defined by your preference in bed. By what you may take just two hours out of your twenty-four hours to be (do). Defined by carnal pleasures and not who you are. It's absurd. Probably, once a time in my life, I was that way, but getting on my knees and raising my two hands to the skies, I am grateful for being vindicated from such cornered thoughts.
The Top-Bottom-Verse issue has become so notorious that it's defining relationships. It's become the pillar on which a relationship stands. Not the personality of the individuals involved, or the charisma, or the charm, or even the physical disposition. Sexual preference supersedes all these, and therein lies the problem.
We complain on a daily about how we do not find it easy to find love, how it is almost starting to seem like the camel has a finer chance going through the needle's eye than for a Nigerian gay man to get a faithful partner. And yet, we treat the good ones that stray into our lives in the name of concerns that shouldn’t matter.
So what if you are bottom and another guy that identifies as bottom asks you out? What's the abnormality in two Tops wanting to be with each other? If a Bottom happens to fall in love with another guy, why should this significant other’s interest in bed create problems? Some guys go as far as actually making an emotional and psychological connection with the man who’d just come into their lives, and then when knowledge of his preference in bed matches theirs, then everything else that had been built is brought crashing down. This shows that one's preference in bed isn't a prerequisite for love. What then is the problem?
Many a time, tantrums are thrown when it is learned that “Vincent, that ‘manly’ Vincent who topped me, once bottomed for Deji”. (The funniest thing is that very little dust is raised when it's a Bottom who is discovered to have topped for the first time. The hilarity in this irony is astounding.)
And I'm like: What's so degrading about bottoming? What's emasculating about submitting in bed to your sexual partner? What’s the abomination in letting another man take the lead in bed? If Vincent decides he doesn't just want pleasure from digging into another man’s bottom, why should he suffer consequences for pursuing other avenues of pleasure that involves him being submissive? Why does that make him seem less of a man, simply because he’s bottomed? Based on no other form of betrayal, you automatically sever your relationship with a guy you have been with for an admirable amount of time simply because you learned he is not as top as you thought he was. It is ludicrous notions like this that bring about such tags like "pure tops” and “strict tops" and "fake bottoms". Maybe there's a Japanese company that manufactures the original Tops and Bottoms, and some sand-filled factory in Aba that produces the fake ones.
Or maybe we are just too daft.
Too many tags for one sexuality! If we had made as much progress in the LGBT movement in this country as we have in conjuring tags and stereotypes, we'd be organizing gay marriages in Aso Rock by now.
I wonder often times: what else is there in being Top or Bottom other than what goes on in the bedroom? Is there something else to these sexual preferences that I'm missing? Some top guy I know said he would never do a Versatile; for him, it’d either be a Bottom or his right hand. A versatile guy once told me that he would have nothing to do with a guy if he's Bottom – this coming from a guy who tops and bottoms. Another versatile said he can only do versatile guys like himself.
"It's heaven with two Versatiles in a relationship," said Sinnex once upon a time.
A gay man not only has to deal with the heterosexual public’s stereotypes that come from being gay; he also has to deal with the prejudices that arise from what he does in bed. He ceases to be a complex being and is forced neatly into two boxes – Top or Bottom, and when one is feeling magnanimous – Versatile.
With this kind of thinking becoming pervasive, I see in the future, gay musicians getting referred to, not by their sexuality anymore, but by what they love to do during sex. You’d see captions like: ‘The bottom-looking Sam Smith…’ or ‘The Top Gay Jussie Smollett’.
During the recent verbal bout that led to the penning of this article, I was asked, "So if a guy you've been with, who told you he is top, who you knew to be top even before the relationship began, happens to love bottoming, and you find out, would you still be with him?"
WTF! Why wouldn't I? I say I'm bottom, right? That means during sex, I love the feel of a dick inside me. And then comes along a guy who does exactly that, with a skill that generates no complaint from me. How then would news of him loving to be pleasured anally, unbeknownst to me though, change everything about him that I’d come to love and respect about him or disadvantage all the ways he has pleased me sexually?
We need to stop putting ourselves in boxes. Especially as gay men, irony in such stringent categorizations cannot be overemphasized. Not everything is simply black and white. As gay men, we are the very definition of how this simply isn’t so, how there are all sorts of shades and hues in between.
The life of a person shouldn’t be defined by the sex he has. Straight people make that mistake enough for the world; let us not compound it. Sex shouldn't override emotional triumphs in gay relationships. Do not let shallow thoughts like this be the focal point for potential relationships.
If possible, let's do away with the “what's your role” question when getting acquainted with each other. When asked my role, I just tell the enquirer that I prefer dicks to cotton candy. That's all. I may one day love ass as well...
Relationships should be founded on more than how you specifically stand to get pleasured in bed. But in the case where these labels are important, they should not override every sensibility. One gay man’s Top can be another gay man’s Bottom. That is fact. The sooner we learn to deal with and appreciate all the ways we as individuals are the very quintessence of life’s diversities, the better for us as a community.
Written by Delle