Not long ago, I wrote a somewhat controversial article for NewNowNext about “total tops” and masculinity. Some readers argued that my testimony—which was supported by academic research and a sociologist who primarily studies queer men—was to serve some personal vendetta I had against tops.
“Why are you just picking on total tops?” one Facebook commenter inquired. “Are you planning to write a sequel about bottoms?”
Unbeknown to this impassioned Facebook user, the writing had already begun. As a true vers, it felt right to balance the scales with a companion piece. Because there don’t appear to be many—or any—articles discussing top vulnerability, I went under the covers to get to the bottom of a top’s most intimate insecurities.
“I can understand how sometimes bottoms just feel fucked, filled, and left, but there are bottoms who just use guys for a hard cock or a load to be filled with,” Steven, a 34-year-old top, tells NewNowNext. “Sometimes you’re just one of several loads for the day.”
Venny, 31, feels similarly. “There are certain bottoms that I learn, once I slide in, that I’m not the first guy fucking them that evening,” he confesses to NewNowNext. “There’s been this change where bottoms have reclaimed ‘power,’ and now they’re out here just taking loads from tops.”
Venny’s observational shift in power could be the result of the higher volume of bottoms. “In many of the U.S. cities I’ve traveled in, there seem to be more bottoms and vers bottoms than there are tops and vers tops,” Court Vox, a sex and intimacy coach, tells NewNowNext. “This proposes an interesting ‘hunting’ dynamic because bottoms, out of necessity, become the pursuer, and tops the pursued.”
Venny refers to this aggressive group as “load-me-up” bottoms. “They literally don’t even want you; they want the dick and the cum,” he says. While we chat, Venny’s reminded of a particularly selfish bottom he met on Grindr and invited over. As soon as the bottom entered his apartment, he immediately dropped his pants, bent over, and exposed himself. He didn’t say a word.
Taken aback by his forwardness, Venny suggested they try missionary, a position he enjoys because it encourages intimacy. “Just give me your load so I can leave,” the bottom responded.
After Venny obliged in his bottom’s request, the man quickly dressed and was out the door. “There was no chatting,” he remembers. “It was awkward because he left so quickly.”
Steven argues that well-endowed men have it the worst, and compares taking his big dick to conquering Everest. “After you’ve been fetishized, they either get scared and back out, or they get what they want and add you to their list of achievements,” he says. “Once they’re fucked, filled, and drained, they’re done with you. You get a shower if you’re lucky or otherwise it’s, ‘Bye!’ And good luck trying to meet up again.”
Joe Kort, a sex and relationship therapist who works regularly with gay men, says he’s heard of tops who feel used for sex just as much as bottoms.
“You might see it more with tops because they have more to choose from since there are more bottoms then there are tops,” Kort tells NewNowNext. “I have had clients tell me that while they are topping a guy that the bottom is on his phone looking for his next hookup.”
According to Kort, performance anxiety is common among tops. He points to the fact that there is a higher rate of erectile dysfunction (ED) among gay and bisexual men than there is among straight men. He estimates this figure is a consequence of the impersonal nature of queer hookup culture. “When gay men are looking for a cock or a hole, they don’t consider the person,” he explains. “They show up, but their erections might not because of the personal removal between each other.”
Kort agrees with Steven that a top’s penis size enhances this behavior. “I’ve had bottoms tell me they are talking with a guy online with a 7-inch penis, but waited up all night for a guy with 8 or more,” he says. “This type of behavior reduces personalization and promotes objectification and possible ED.”
Race is another contributing factor, with many bottoms fetishizing the legend of the so-called ’big black cock.’ “Many black men are projected to be more masculine and dominant as well, which creates over-fetishization where intersectional identities come together and are projected onto them,” Kort says.
“They just want your load, and in my case, my big black cock,” Venny agrees. “I am so over that.”
Eric, 34, is a black man and a top who says this combination makes it impossible to date. “Bottoms will go along with pursuing something longer-term until they get their load, and then they’re off to the next,” he tells NewNowNext. “The message I get is that it’s okay to sleep with me behind closed doors but not date me in public.”
Many tops find it difficult to get commitment from partners beyond a booty call. “I’ve seen many men who identify as tops get hurt thinking that the guy is into them,” Kort says. “So they start to develop feelings for the bottom, only to find out that overall they are just a ‘dick’ and a fetish to the guy. Then these hurt feelings become depression.”
“To the bottoms who say, ‘I’m a person, not just a warm hole,’ I’d like to say, ‘I’m a person, not just a dick’,” Steven says. “It’s not always about love, but I think we can treat each other with a baseline of respect. Objectification can be kind of hot sometimes, but it’s a delicate balancing act before it becomes hurtful and insulting.”
When it’s beneficial, sometimes tops play into this objectification. “I had one client decide that, because he had a big cock, he would put ‘fuck your face,’ on his Grindr profile,” Kort says. “His app lit up, and he was hooking up faster and with more men than ever. Yet, over time, he started to feel bad for himself because all these men wanted was to get ‘face-fucked,’ and they weren’t interested in him at all.”
Greg, 50, is a queer webcam performer who understands this sentiment all too well. While his big dick keeps him employed, he can’t escape the fetishism offline. “They often forget there is a person connected to my cock,” he tells NewNowNext, adding that, throughout a sexual experience, bottoms will rarely ever make eye contact. Instead, they’re enamored of his nine-inch cock.
“They’ll do what they need to to get me hard or make me come,” he explains, “but the rest of the time, they’re caught up in their fantasy.”
“I have thick enough skin now that it doesn’t impact my self worth, but I don’t like having my time used in a primarily one-way experience,” Greg continues. “When it happens, I feel a little shocked. I admit it. I take half the blame for not seeing it coming, but the other part is a disappointment at how superficial their interest is.”
Oftentimes, tops are often more sensitive than they are given credit. “It’s a lot of pressure being a top,” Vox says. “The pressure to get hard, stay hard, and fuck like a porn star, then cuddle like a golden retriever, is high. Being a top comes with its own set of vulnerabilities and insecurities. Being in control is often about letting go and being present, and those two things can be a challenge for a lot of us.”
Vox shares that no matter how his clients identify positionally, they all have similar concerns, be it body dysmorphia, ED, lack of desire, rapid ejaculation, disassociation, and so on. “These issues are position agnostic,” he says. “Compassion for all parties is key.”
Similarly, Vox says, top or bottom, we’re all used for sex. “I think what is often unclear are the expectations and boundaries going in,” he adds. “This is a communication error from both parties.”
Because tops often assume the aggressive and dominant sexual role, their vulnerability goes unconsidered, lost in the mire of positional politics. So just remember, the next time you’re getting slammed from the back, acknowledge that there is a person attached to that cock—and that person has feelings too.