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by Katie Peachesa April 10, 2020 2 min read

New Study Suggests that People can Predict Gay Couples' Sex Roles

By Ksenia Sobchak

Pin New Study Suggests that People can Predict Gay Couples' Sex Roles
Amongst gay people, the terms 'top' and 'bottom' are well known, with 'top' meaning the insertive partner in anal sex and 'bottom' referring to the receptive. Even though there is little agreement between gay men about the usefulness (or the reliability) of these labels, a recent study has suggested that people are able to tell, with some accuracy, which member of a gay couple is the top and which is the bottom.

While it might be possible to predict who likes to be the insertive or receptive partner, the article doesn't seem to touch on the many gay men who identify as 'versatile', meaning that they swap between being the receptive or insertive partner according to how they feel. When a couple swaps roles in a single sexual encounter - commonly called 'flip-flopping' - this throws into question any claim that 'top' and 'bottom' are the only possible identifications.

Maybe it's simpler to see sexual identification amongst gay men as being on a continuum: just as there are heterosexual men who enjoy 'pegging', being pleasured with a strap-on, there are straight men who would never dream of switching sexual roles. The general assumption that a receptive partner is 'passive' while an insertive partner is 'dominant' also isn't necessarily true.

In addition to the variation of sexual preference which the study does not seem to admit to, there is also the fact that some gay men do not practice anal sex at all, preferring oral sex, mutual masturbation, and other erotic exchange. While it is true that many men do identify exclusively as liking one sexual role more than the other, relationships are dynamic and a particular relationship might find each man going outside of his usual comfort zone.

It's easy to assume that effeminate appearance and behaviour means a man is likely to be a bottom while masculine behaviour identifies a man as a top, but often people do not match expectations. For example, take self-identified gay 'bears' - bearded, hyper-masculine men. The study did also find that the way people perceive a gay men's masculinity plays a part in his sexual identification, suggesting that preference for a role is socially influenced, as much as it is a matter of choice.

Katie Peachesa
Katie Peachesa

Katie Peachesa is a sex and lingerie blogger based out of the urban chic Wapping in the heart of East London, United Kingdom. In her spare time, Katie enjoys photography, yoga and fitness, a bit of boxing, traveling, keeping up with the latest fashion trends and mudlarking and exploring pastoral settings. You are likely to find Katie in an artisan cafe in Brick Lane on a Saturday afternoon furiously typing her next article on her laptop whilst she is sipping on her flat white and drawing inspiration from the hustle and bustle in the heart of creative London. Katie runs the "Fashion Life Mag" and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Allure, Grazia, Tatler, Evening Standard and other popular media outlets.

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