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George is Tired of…Bottoming

So, let me start out by saying an emphatic “No, I have not been possessed with walking in the spirit of a top.” And no, this doesn’t mean I am hanging up my powerful bottom boots for good (hope you caught that one too). However, as I get older, I am noticing a change in my energy and attitudes towards sex, the expectations of a bottom, what I really need when it comes to sexual pleasure, and how our community has a chance to be a blueprint in establishing norms that work for us.

Pull up a seat kids, it’s time for some semi-erotic tea. I had a sexual encounter with a friend—one who I’ve bottomed for several times before. By now we knew each other’s bodies, and things were pretty business as usual whenever we decided to hook up. He’d come over. We would talk about what was going on in our lives. He would smoke, while I would have a drink. Then it was off to the bedroom.

But on this day, something inside of me was just different. Prior to us getting down to business, we had a real conversation about life and things we wanted; we shared advice and ideas. But when it was time to get down to business, something in me just didn’t want to be penetrated. Now I love sex, and the feeling of sex, and had done the prep (y’all know the prep) to be ready for sex. But I just looked at him and said, “I just don’t feel like being penetrated today.” He took off his shirt, laughed and was like “OK. That’s cool.”

As we laid next to each other naked, we began by masturbating while I rested upon his chest. In that moment it was quiet. Then we started talking about our days, future plans—sharing giggles at the situation. It was so different than what I was used to for so many years. That get down to business nature that had become my sex life—a few kisses, exchanges of oral sex, 20 minutes of going at it and this feeling of satisfaction yet wonder of “how many texts or emails have I missed” as my mind moved on quickly.

We got a little closer and engaged in dry humping (with lube cause ain’t nobody got time for friction like that). There weren’t the loud moans, or any fake moans, and dirty talk. It was just skin on skin. Eye contact. And mutual pleasure for the moment we were in. As we finished, with a mutual pleasuring, we both laughed, and I stated, “That was really amazing” to which he responded, “you’re just too cool man” and we fist bumped. How corny but appropriate right?

It was honestly one of the most satisfying sexual encounters I’ve had in years. And maybe I’m late to the game in even having this as an option, but I do know from what I’ve experienced on the apps (sigh) and in hooking up, that it’s usually a few words, a few nudes, the meet up, some pounding and a quick exit. Which isn’t a problem by the way, cause sometimes that works. But for a long time, I honestly felt that was all I had as an option. I recall numerous times when even suggesting mutual jacking off was met with disdain, ending with me agreeing to be penetrated.

For the record, I enjoy being a bottom. I don’t enjoy what we have created in our culture around how we view one another based on our sexual positions—most often correlating them to heteronorms. Tops and bottoms being equated to gender norms in cishet relationships ain’t it. Now don’t get me wrong—for some, that will work and has been an okay formula. My issue is that we have allowed cishet norms to become our rules, and not an option. We haven’t taken enough time to really figure out what works best for the queer community—a community that is now becoming more visible and growing by the day.

Our community, and society as a whole, places a lot of burden on the person on bottom or the receiver in any relationship where anal sex is involved. We have all seen the jokes. “I plan on bottoming tonight so I’m not eating anything for the next two days.” We have seen the memes about the dick appointment at the door and water still not coming out clean.

Although in jest, this is a very real process of thinking like a bottom. The expectation to always be “clean” against how our bodies’ digestive systems work is a real struggle for many. The shaming that many of us have experienced when despite our best cleaning efforts, an accident does happen, with no realistic thought or empathy in the situation—a situation that we anatomically know by now can happen even if you were the Martha Stewart of cleaning out.

Our community often shames what we don’t wish to explore further—rejecting one another without actually knowing the why. I often talk about us being a blueprint generation, the first generation of queer culture that has the opportunity to set the stage for future queer folk to come. I hope we don’t box each other into labels—not saying that we shouldn’t have them because I am a proud bottom. But not having expectations so strict that I’m unable to be anything more than that.

I had an uncle once tell me that intimacy meant “into me you see.” The most valuable thing I’m learning is that a person can see into me, without having to be in me—and satisfaction can still be achieved by all who are involved.


George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson is a black queer journalist and activist located in the Nyc area. He has written for TheRoot, ET, HIVequal, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications.

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