I turn 25 in a couple of weeks so I have spent time reflecting on my growth as a person, including my sexual identity and romantic attraction to men. While I have unsurprisingly not yet met a man I want to date, I have learned something about the guys I’m generally into: I’m turned on by guys who can dominate me. In other words, I’m a bottom.
It feels weird to out myself as a bottom on the internet, though it feels weirder to claim that identity given the stigma I’ve internalized about it, especially as a gay Asian man. It oftentimes feels like tops are venerated in the gay community, perhaps because of topping’s association with masculinity, whereas bottoming is devalued given its association with femininity. As a gay Asian man, I’m highly aware that gay Asians are often typecast as bottoms even when we’re not, as well as that gay Asians are perceived to love white dick – often to the extent that some gay Asians internalize this white supremacy and crave white male approval. So, as I reckon with my bottom identity more, I often wonder: am I complicit in maintaining a problematic hierarchy within the queer community? Am I perpetuating racism through this preference for submission?
I also freak out a little when I think about this sexual preference because I wonder: does identifying as a bottom mean that I feel incomplete without a man? Like, if I like when a guy can take control of me in the bedroom, does that mean I want a man to control my life in general? Am I actually a fraud of an empowered gay Asian man, a disappointment to my queens Audre Lorde and Caroline Knapp, a scourge on this earth who deserves to be tossed into a dumpster along with all the Asian takeout containers I’ve gone through during this pandemic?
When I take a step back from this dramatic introspection, I remember though that I also know tops who perpetuate problematic or at least questionable behaviors and attitudes. I talked with a friend yesterday about tops who are overly aggressive in bed, and I’m aware of tops who prefer white men over men of color, as well as tops who fetishize men of color. In regard to identifying as a bottom equaling wanting a man to take control of my life in general, I remember early in my grad program, I talked with an older gay top about how I would never, ever settle for a man who doesn’t meet my standards, no matter my age. He looked at me while we stood outside a Dunkin’ Donuts in DC and said “Thomas, I feel like as I’ve gotten older, it’s become less a matter of if you’ll settle and more a matter of who you’re willing to settle for,” a statement that honestly disturbs me to this day.
The other day I felt sad about the lack of a man in my life, then I felt sadder that I felt sad about a lack of a man in my life. I searched for narratives about gay men of color falling in love to give myself some hope, felt disappointed when I could not find anything new, and then remembered: I’m freaking iconic and I can write my own narrative. Toni Morrison once wrote that “if there’s a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” While I’m not writing a book, I am writing this blog about a gay Asian man who falls in love, with someone even better than another man – himself.
There are a lot of narratives about gay Asian men, especially gay Asian male bottoms, being generally passive or deferential. I’m here to say, fuck that shit, because I know my worth. I know who I am without a man. And any man who wants a chance with me would have to really bring it, it being a lot truckload of books, lots of pints of Jeni’s ice cream, a willingness to listen to me fanboy about the colors in BlackPink’s “As If It’s Your Last music video, etc. because I don’t have time for a mediocre man when I already have my close friends, meaningful work, fulfilling hobbies, and an oddly self-disclosing blog to maintain. I’m not sure if I’ll ever meet a top or a vers guy who can match my power, though I’m okay with that, because I’m confident that my work will help the next generation unlearn toxic masculinity and racism. I’m confident in my own power.
How do you reckon with sexual identity and power, especially for any queer readers of this blog? I still have a lot to learn about this aspect of my sexual orientation and identity, so any resources, especially anti-racist resources, about bottoming and submission? General reactions to this post? Until next time!