Written by George M. Johnson and originally published on thebody.com

The black LGBTQIA community is nothing new, but it is now beginning to write its own narrative in a way that is unapologetic and revolutionary. In a culture fighting so hard to prove its identity outside the heterosexual spectrum (and in which HIV is still very much a pressing concern), there are still many areas where conformity can be problematic and dangerous. One of the unfortunate stereotypes we assimilate is the belief that our lived experiences and identity navigation should have a direct correlation with our sexual positions.

In a land of “tops,” “verses” and “bottoms,” there is truly a hierarchy of respect and shaming. For a bottom, there is no respect within the community and a poorly drawn correlation to being more submissive and effeminate. Since there is no blueprint for the navigation of relationships within our community, there is also an expectation that bottoms are the “women” in relationships, thus falling into a framework of heteronormative policy. The problem with this is that we have created another space where one marginalized group oppresses another to gain acceptance of a majority that they were never meant to fit in with.

WHY YOU SHOULD RESPECT A BOTTOM

A bottom is more than just a sexual position. Sexual games and preferences of domination versus submission should never be taken out of context and become the way a person’s entire existence is viewed.

Bottoms have done nothing that they should feel ashamed about or shamed for doing. It’s almost as if we have taken the narrative about “all these women looking for a good man” and turned it into “all these bottoms fighting for a good top.” In both cases, it is wrong.

AND SOMEONE HAS TO BE THE RECEIVER!

Being a bottom is not something everyone can do; it is truly a statement of power and never should be correlated with weakness. Yet, this position is treated as the weak one in the relationship.

I want to talk about the work that the receiver must go through to prepare for anal intercourse. There are instances in which some people restrict their diet for an entire day in preparation for sex later in the evening. And the process known as “fleeting,” which has become the biggest joke, is actually a lot more serious than the “meme” would let you know.

With each use of “fleet,” bottoms are flushing out good bacteria and creating chemical imbalances that could potentially be dangerous. A substitute for this has been a rubber-tipped syringe with warm water to clean out as best as possible before intercourse. A bottom does all of this in consideration of a top, at times in detriment to his own health.

As if that is not enough, there is also an after-sex process. As the anus is an exit, it is going to try to push out anything that is in the cavity, such as ejaculates or lube. Although anal sex can have its pleasures, it can also come with some pain due to stretching of the walls and dryness. This can then lead to anal fissures, which are tears in the anal cavity that can cause bleeding, pain and even require surgery. Walking, as well as having a bowel movement, can be uncomfortable for several days depending on soreness.

Furthermore, a bottom has more concerns about anal health care and treatment than a person who tops. Bottoms are more prone than tops to contracting HIV due to having more blood and tissue exposed during sexual intercourse. (It was even at one time believed within the community that “tops” couldn’t get HIV. Fortunately, that statement has been debunked as science and data have proven that no sexual position is absolved from contracting the virus.)

A person who bottoms regularly should at minimum be getting yearly anal testing for anal cancer, hepatitis C, warts, etc. If you are a bottom who engages in condomless sex, this screening will also include chlamydia and gonorrhea. These tests can be invasive and quite costly depending on the type of insurance coverage.

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET PAINT ON YOUR HAND, YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR HAND OUTSIDE OF THE PAINT CAN

Being a bottom is a statement that displays dominance, control, power and, most importantly, consideration of others that may never be given in return. Shaming of this position – equal to verbal abuse – only increases negative stereotypes around sex and gender. Consideration must be taken into account when engaging with a bottom.

For instance, the topic of “painting” needs to become null and void. “Painting” is a term used when a bottom releases fecal matter during sexual intercourse. I’ve heard horror stories of people being kicked out, cussed out, hit and more because of this. To those who have a problem with being painted on, there are some things you should remember:

The rectum is an exit. Anytime you make an entrance out of an exit, you are taking the risk of running into something.

The body is the body. No matter how much cleaning is done, the body has natural processes that will continue. That cannot be controlled.

With that said, it is 2016 and the shaming needs to stop. We are all sexual beings and, as such, we all deserve respect when it comes to sexual interactions and lived experiences. All in all, we need to have better conversations around sex and identity expression outside of the bedroom. To all the people who bottom, stay powerful.

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