Fenuxe Magazine is a print-only publication. This piece appeared in Volume 38.
Don't Listen to Ryan Murphy: Two Bottoms Can Totally Date
Every gay and bi man has been taught a myth: you can’t date someone who plays on your team. Pitchers date catchers. Bottoms date tops. Versatile guys date both. But can two bottoms date? Not a chance — or so we've been told. If you watched the second episode of Ryan Murphy’s new show Pose (as you should have), you’ll remember Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (trans actress MJ Rodriguez) telling Damon never to date another bottom.
“What if I’m a bottom and I fall for a guy who is also a bottom?” he asks.
“Don’t,” she says.
I watched that episode with my boyfriend, who, like me, is a bottom. We looked at each other and started to laugh — but later, we realized it bugged us. Was that really the answer? Are we truly so incompatible?
The episode reminded me of a time in high school when I first heard the words “top” and “bottom.” A gay student at a nearby school explained the words to me over the phone: “You know how straight people are, like, guy and girl?” he said. “Well gay dudes are like that too. We're top and bottom. I wouldn’t be with another bottom, because then we’d be like two girls."
With respect, I now disagree with that friend, and with Ryan Murphy, and with the entire heteronormative myth that these roles — top, bottom, and versatile — are anchored on: namely, that one's sexual preference is a fixed state, and that that state determines what relationships we can and can't have. Queer people have always defied existing rules of sex and dating. We change heteronormative dating practices to fit our plethora of partners and lovers, our countless kinks and fetishes. This is no different.
To make a relationship between two tops or two bottoms work, you must to be willing to bend or completely reject heteronormative concepts. For us, this means rejecting the hetero doctrine of monogamy. My boyfriend and I are both bottoms, so non-monogamy was an established feature of our relationship before we even started it. We both love sex and want lots of it, which means we have to be comfortable with each other having lots of sex with other people.
He gets what he needs with hot, anonymous strangers and I do the same. When we're finished, we meet up, kiss, cuddle, and call it a night. Ours is, by all accounts, a new relationship, but I don’t see our sex roles as an incompatibility. Quite the contrary — it’s the first relationship where we don’t feel shame for wanting to play with others. My sluttiness is encouraged and celebrated, and his is too.
You can make a relationship work with anyone as long as honesty, open-mindedness, and full disclosure are part of of your daily communication. You should challenge any “rules” about relationships whenever they're presented. To do so is our queer legacy — we’re old pros at breaking standards, embracing taboos, and building relationships that suit our needs.
Gay and bi men seem to be more welcoming of the idea of two tops in a relationship, and there’s a reason why. Age-old misogyny — another feature of heteronormativity — is ingrained in the ways we view men who fuck versus men who get fucked. Two “men” — men who fuck — are seen as self-reliant, a power unit of one, while two “women” — men who get fucked — are dependent and helpless without tops to define them. This bullshit idea comes from the tired concept that someone who gets penetrated is inherently like a woman, and that to be like a woman is lesser and incomplete. This misogynist belief is seen by many as the foundation of what we call "internalized homophobia," which is what happens when queer men hate themselves because they hate the idea of being perceived as feminine because of their sexuality.
As queer people, we must reject these concepts. Let's stop defining our relationships by heteronormative beliefs. Date the people you think are wonderful and let connection and chemistry and be the markers telling who to be with.