In Russell A Baptist’s book Adam and Steve: The Rules for Men Attracted to Other Men, he attempts to explain the world of tops and according to him, there are three main types of tops.
These are total tops, versatile tops and oral tops. There also exist true total tops.
According to Baptist, true total tops generally ‘use dominant energy with expertise’ and ‘couldn’t care less’ about their bottoming partner’s pleasure.
Total tops in general, on the other hand, are more forgiving.
Versatile tops prefer topping but are more open to bottoming, while oral tops love performing oral.
As for why people develop these preferences, there can be a multitude of reasons. GSN asked some total tops for their opinions:
Ethan, 23, gay, from New Jersey
When I first came out as gay as a sophomore in college, I pretty much just bottomed. But then I switched to being a total top about a year after I came out.
I was taking medication for my Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) that inhibited blood flow when I first came out, making it difficult for me to get an erection, so I bottomed.
When I finally made the correlation between my body’s reaction to my medicine, I realized that I actually would prefer to top instead.
Perpetua, 29, non-binary lesbian, from Scotland
I’m a total top because I love the sensation of bringing pleasure to my partner. I get so much joy from knowing that I’m making her feel good.
I like to take an active role in lovemaking. I’ve bottomed before and it’s fine but I get bored and I’d rather be in the driver’s seat.
Two women in sensual poses
Charlie*, 23, gay, from London
I can’t get past the pain, or relax into it. Plus, I find the sex positions most bottoms end up in are unflattering and make me self conscious. It’s also weird that the times I have tried I’ve wanted to be very much in control and doing the work whereas when I top I quite enjoy the opposite.
I guess this goes with not being able to relax but also wanting to make sure the other person is having a good time. If I can’t relax enough to do everything I’m trying to do, I’ll damn well try and control what I can.
Frida, 27, gay drag queen, from Glasgow
I’m pretty much a total top but it’s not because I hate the idea of bottoming. I’ve bottomed a few times but I just get no pleasure out of it whatsoever. It’s not through lack of trying, just apparently a part of my physical makeup.
When I first started having sex, I was determined to be versatile; I wanted to be able experience the whole range of penetrative sex. But as I went on, I just found that I wasn’t enjoying it.
It wasn’t a pain issue, it was more uncomfortable – if I was wearing a pair of boxers that didn’t feel great I wouldn’t keep on wearing them. It was just a little overwhelming but not in a pleasant way and I kept thinking ‘Is this going to be over soon?
As a drag performer who often presents as an exaggerated female character, or as a fay androgynous character, people are often surprised when they find out I’m the top 95% of the time.
I think it speaks more to our society’s view of gender and even the wider expectation of gender roles in the LGBT community. It can be a little annoying. Sure, I like putting on a corset and slipping some socks into a bra, but why should that mean I wouldn’t enjoy taking the top role in the bedroom? My drag isn’t a sexual thing, it’s performance and art.
Callum, 24, gay, from Hertfordshire
I’ve never tried bottoming at all. I tried topping for the first time about six years ago.
I’m a total top purely because I’ve never felt the want to bottom. Ass is what I am about and being a bottom or trying it is just not something that goes through my head.
I’ve never tried bottoming and it’s unlikely I ever will. It would have to be a very good man that I’m in a relationship with for me to even allow it.