This is a bit of gay adult themed rant today. You’ve been warned.
I’ve noticed a particularly annoying trend lately in various social media outlets. Basically, someone will show a compliment to a hot or attractive picture by commenting "top" as a one word comment. I must admit, I’m SMDH1 over this one. When I see this I’m immediately hit with a sense of sadness at the failed progression of our community. It is a self-reinforcing stereotype. And lest you think I’m overreacting to a simple comment, I’m not. I’m pointing out one part of a large pattern of self-destructive behaviors. Pick any medium for gay men to connect and you will find 1) people pretending to be something they aren’t or used to be, and 2) people afraid to admit their true desires out of fear of being marginalized as inferior or effeminate.
While the fight for equality is moving right along, we are moving backwards in our attempts to destroy old stereotypes. We seem intent on creating new even more restrictive ones instead I find it incredibly sad and pathetic we are still doing this to each other. The idea that to be considered attractive, muscular, successful, etc one must be a top reeks of insecurity and low self-esteem. How you look, dress, act, or behave has zero determination on your sexual role in bed. The fake bravado and never-ending attempts to appear masculine are just tired. For myself, I’ve just started assuming most of the loudest blowhards online are bottoms afraid to admit it. And I say that as a declarative statement, not a slight. The beard craze has sadly started taking on this role now as well.
We will never overcome the idea that being a bottom or the receptive partner during sex is somehow inferior unless we stop marginalizing each other. My first thought is to block the person because, as the saying goes, "I just can’t…" but that seems counter productive. Of course trying to mention it online just leads to flame wars and who has the time or energy for that? I’m definitely tarting to see why many older gay men withdraw from the community over time. They finally reach a point where they overcome the trauma and fallout from a lifetime of discrimination and they are left with a community at war with itself. I refuse to be like that but I admit I’m at a loss for solutions.
It is no easy task facing our own insecurities, but I’m living proof it can happen. Oh, I still have them but they do not drive my behavior anymore. I got where I am now because I spent over a decade of my life focused on healing myself and growing past my fears. I consider myself very lucky to have accomplished it with so little outside help. I now find myself struggling to find a way to help others and those around me. Don’t fall for the idea that being [insert stereotype of choice here] somehow makes you better or worse. It doesn’t. And you only end up hurting or alienating yourself in the long run. Be true to yourself. Be authentic in all that you do.
For many years, I listed axioms on my About page I try to live by. I took them down as they are such a part of me now I no longer need reminders. I think I will bring them back. One of them, and the most difficult for me to learn, I kept posted on my mirror ever day for over a year. It reads, "no one can make you feel inferior without your permission." I’m not sure who originally made the quote but it’s been used and reused quite often. As I struggled to identify and overcome individual insecurities, this axiom became more and more clear and a part of my daily thinking. It is the foundation for overcoming a need to meet or be a stereotype or unrealistic expectations.
I hope that if you are reading this and struggle with how you feel perceived by the "community", you can benefit from it. And if you’ve been fortunate to overcome it, please share your struggles and success with others when given the chance.
Hope springs eternal…
- Shaking my damn head [↩]