Why Gay Guys Don’t Answer The Top Or Bottom Question


When Instagram launched its “Ask a question” functionality, the most common question I saw asked of a gay guy was “are you top or bottom?” While it’s puzzling why anyone feels that they have the right to know what someone does behind closed doors – and let’s remember Instagram ISN’T Grindr – it’s also interesting to see how many gay guys navigate the query.

The eye-roll emoji and evasive responses were what many chose to reply with but why does a simple question, which only require a straightforward answer, seem to bring out avoidance and also annoyance for some? 

Sure, there are more pressing issues such as sexual racism against Asians and person of colour but could there be another reason when one chooses not to disclose their preference aside from a simple “it’s none of your business?”

Receptive partners are known to be perceived as powerless and less masculine – very much the same way that sexism operates where women are considered less than. This, of course, is called bottom shaming and is one of the reasons which stops guys from openly admitting what role they take in bed. 

I ask some members of the community to share their thoughts on the effects of bottom shaming, masculinity and how they navigate the question.

David M.

There’s definitely a stigma in the community with being a bottom where you’re viewed negatively as being effeminate or weak. Guys see this as a non-positive trait. People avoid the question because they don’t want to be stereotyped.

I rarely hear tops making fun of bottoms. It’s usually other bottoms teasing and calling each other in a contentious tone. Even when you identify as versatile, people laugh and say “a versatile is just a bottom in denial.”

Your role in the bedroom means nothing when it comes to your masculinity. I’ve seen some very aggressive and masculine bottoms!

When someone asks that question, I just respond with “why do we have to be one or the other?” I mean, how many guys out there are 100% top? Every gay man likes his prostate tickled every now and then, right?

FOLLOW David on Instagram @tn2sd

Barry H.

To me, when someone chooses not to answer what role a gay guy takes in bed, it’s less of an issue with masculinity and more of a “mind your own business” matter. No one would ask a straight couple if they do it doggy style so why is it okay to ask a gay couple how they do it?

I do think, however, there’s an element of perceived less masculinity if you’re a bottom, especially in the gay community. They’re considered passive and the “female” of the relationship and that could be a reason why guys choose not to answer the question if they’re purely a bottom.

But I also agree that this stigma emanates from society as a whole and how relationships are viewed – who is the husband and who is the wife in the relationship.

I generally don’t answer this question if someone asks. I’m not inviting said person into the bedroom so why does it matter what I do behind closed doors?

FOLLOW Barry on Instagram @asianmapleleaf

David L.

People avoid answering the question because it’s not really a 100% representation of who they are – it’s more of a scale. Some guys might also want to keep it private or they get offended by the implications of the question.

The issue with masculinity absolutely plays a part in a guy willing to admit he’s the bottom. The gay community can be very exclusive and shutting out feminine guys is a huge problem. A receptive guy is assumed to be less masculine even if he fits the manly profile of being bearded and muscled.

My husband, Huey, and I get asked by our social media followers all the time but we ignore it since we aren’t having sex with them. As a joke, we once posted a photo of a pillowcase on Instagram and claimed Huey was the top and I, the bottom. Because it didn’t fit the traditional dominant white and submissive Asian format, we actually lost followers!

FOLLOW David L. on Instagram @huey_david

Arthur T.

I think those who are less likely to answer the question are bottoms because of the stigma. It makes someone less of a man, which is counterintuitive because you’d think gay men would be less heteronormative and less up in arms about adhering to gender roles.

Guys also associate bottoming with vulnerability, and guys, straight or gay, generally have difficulties showing emotions. Gay guys are not immune to the toxic masculine narrative and it’s only until recently that effeminate men are being accepted.

Societal pressures force some gay guys into thinking that happiness and successful relationships only happen when it adheres to heteronormativity, where one is the husband and the other, the wife.

I feel that even when someone answers that he’s versatile, it doesn’t seem to be a very acceptable answer. Many gay guys themselves are still super rigid about sexual positions where it’s one or the other.

FOLLOW Arthur on Instagram @bornstylish

People shouldn’t assume they have a right to ask a guy if he’s top or bottom. It’s ultimately nobody’s business what someone or a couple does behind closed doors, but at the same time, it does feel that answering the question is the only way to address and stop bottom shaming and toxic masculinity. Of course, it’s never black and white and would depend on the context and situation.

Street Style Poser
About me

Henry Ng is a writer, photographer, stylist and consultant. Henry found success owning his own menswear label, Orri Henrisson, before moving into digital marketing where his creative and strategy skills are highly sought after. Henry’s passion for menswear and travel saw him launching Street Style Poser. Henry loves all things bright and colourful, karoke, Kristen Wiig, and salted caramel anything!

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