If you exist within the gay community, there’s a pretty good chance you’re across the wide array of labels that are thrown about all too often.
‘Top’, ‘bottom’, and the ongoing litany of queer subcategories, are simply more ways in which people remove humanity and individuality from queer people by attaching labels that obscure personality, achievement and nuance.
These terms are a common, and often celebrated, identity-defining mechanism used within the queer community. Not only does the outside, heterosexual world label us as “gays” (removing our humanity and individuality and instead covering all of us with a giant, pink, neon sign flashing “GAY”), but we further deny ourselves of individual personhood by subcategorising within that identity-theft of a label.
We are “gay”, but what kind of gay?
Instead of rejecting sexuality as our core defining feature, we have chosen to further subcategorise ourselves within that original marker.
As a gay male, you can be tops, and bottoms, and ‘bears’, ‘otters’, ‘twinks’, or ‘hunks’. The only limits are your bravery on urbandictionary.com, really. It’s a sexuality pick-and-mix with endless surprises and fun for the whole family. Of note, however, is that no combination you choose will actually allow you to represent yourself as a person, it’ll simply let people know who and how you fuck. We dangle markers of our sexual behavior off of the first title, “gay”, to further describe us, which does nothing but tell everyone else that our sexuality is all we will ever be.
We are never “clever” or “athletic” or “compassionate”. We are known as “gay Patrick”.
I have actually been introduced as “Patrick. He’s gay”. It is in these moments when I am my most outraged and humiliated. In that act, I am no longer recognised by my accomplishments, but rather my sexuality. I am stripped of my achievements and ambitions because of my queer status.
These labels rob me of my nuance and individuality, and instead throw me in a pile of “gays” that the rest of the world looks upon with pity and/or contempt. This pile may be full of people who are better described by their accomplishments, but never will be.
To further feed into that destructive pattern by not only accepting “gay Patrick”, but adding to it further with “top”, “vers”, “otter” or “twink” is simply to provide more obstacles that obscure you from recognition for all that you can be.
We must ask ourselves to aspire to greatness, to hold an office of our own which we build through personal growth and diverse experience. We need to stop letting “gay”, “top” and “twink” get in the way of that.
Yes, I am gay. And, yes, I am proud.
But I am so, so much more than that.
Feature Image: HBO