Sex talk
Speaking of Switches

Simon Sheppard,

Some men are tops, some are bottoms. And then there are those who are both.

They're switches.

"Most of the time," says one, "I like to do the fucking. But more than every once in a while, I feel like laying back and letting someone else do the work." To many guys, such flexibility seems only natural, though there are those who find it somewhat upsetting, as though switching upsets the very order of the universe.

It is, after all, something of a truism that in the gay community, most men are bottoms. Complains one, "I really like total tops – thoroughly dominant men. But they're surprisingly hard to find. Suddenly, some man who's fucking me gets all tender and sentimental, or – worse – starts sucking me and acting like he's the one who wants to get humped."

But not every anal top is into dominant behavior, and there are very aggressive bottoms out there, too. And as another eager buttboy says, "I find that the best tops are men who enjoy getting screwed themselves. They really know what feels good to me."

Though simple binary systems make it easier to comprehend the world, human beings are more complex than an on/off button. Guys who usually prefer to get penetrated may meet someone and think, "Mmm, I'd like to get inside that." Randy anal tops may find themselves having an off day, erection-wise – whether because of emotion, exhaustion, or the ingestion of one substance or another – and decide it's high time to throw their legs in the air. And as our switch confides, "If I'm not very horny, just putting on a rubber can deflate me. It can be a lot less anxiety-producing to just lie there and get rammed."

And then there are those versatile fellows who just love to be on the top and bottom – more or less equally. Says one, "I'm in a long-term relationship with another switch, and it's great to have it both ways, sometimes in a single night. When I was dating, it was usually simpler to do one or the other, though even then I loved meeting guys who wanted to take their turns. I understand the whole 'total bottom' thing, I guess, but both ends feel too good for me to give up."

For some, what's at stake is not pleasure, but self-image. There are top men who think that getting fucked is unmanly, and devoted anal bottoms who'd like to believe they wouldn't surrender their booty unless pressured into it by a domineering man. But as the guy with the both-ways boyfriend says, "Hell, it takes a real man to take it up the butt."

Then, too, there's a question of definition. "Top" and "bottom" seem clear when it comes to assfucking, but other activities may not be so easily pigeonholed. Who's really the "top" in a blowjob? And rimming may be a bottom-y activity, but what if a never-been-boned man eats butt in preparation for fucking it? Is he still a total top? It can get confusing, all right.

People like what they like, of course. And when it comes to sex – as long as it's safe and consensual – there isn't any "right" or "wrong." But as the man in the versatile relationship says, "Bottoming and topping fill different needs for me, and I like to go both places. Guys who restrict themselves to one side of things just don't know what they're missing."

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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