For the first 27 years, I spent all 14.1 million minutes of my very gay and very disabled life as a bottom. I was happy as a disabled bottom. The yummy ease! The delicious penetration! The idea that I could just lay there and think about what kind of delectable wine I wanted with dinner, while the person above me got off?! How could you not love such a thing?
I guess I never gave topping much thought. After all, being a disabled top, or even versatile, seemed like too much work and too much stamina; work and stamina I simply did not have. What I did have though was Cerebral Palsy. Legally, I couldn’t top someone: My legs didn’t move like others did, and my muscles were always tight. I didn’t physically fit the bill of a top.
For all I knew, I had Cerebral Plow-sy, in that, well, I loved getting plowed. And so did everyone else I knew who was gay and disabled… Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend brought up the idea of me topping him (Which I tried, thank you! More on that in a later column, I promise) at the age of 28 that I began to wonder: Was I totally off the mark? All my life, I had assumed bottoming was every disgaybled man’s sole role. Surely, if it was Christmas, we’d all be the receivers of the ahem, gifts, right? I thought. Call it being naive. Call it being sheltered. Call it having years of internalized ableism (OK, fine, it was totally that).
Whatever the reason, I knew I had to investigate, to prove not only myself wrong, but the world at large. After all, if I (as a disabled person) thought this, that could only mean others did as well. So, putting on my best Veronica Mars thinking cap (which made me look very masc4masc, btw), I began reaching out to some fellow gay and disabled friends — and an LGBTQ expert! — in my quest to answer, “Are all gay and disabled men really bottoms?”
Turns out, maybe.
“I do think the majority of gay men are actually bottoms, regardless of whether or not someone has a disability,” says Dr. Evan Goldstein, the founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical, a health practice specializing in gay men’s sexual health and wellness.
“I believe we still live in a queer community where people see a weakness in labeling themselves a bottom—that enjoying being f*cked automatically makes you submissive or weak. I do not agree with that… We are so much more than what we enjoy doing in the bedroom.”
That’s not to say disabled tops don’t exist. Just ask Andrew Gurza, a nationally recognized disability awareness consultant with Cerebral Palsy. He’s also the host of Disability After Dark, a podcast all about sex and disability (so, like, he gets it).
“I identify as a top, mainly because I can’t — or believe I can’t — physically bottom,” he says, “I can’t douche myself, or clean myself out. I can’t do any of that, so technically for now, I consider myself to be a top.”
That said, Andrew says it’s common for people to assume he is a bottom because of his disability.
“I get that a lot on social media where guys say, ‘Oh, you must be a bottom because you can just lie there, right?’” he says. “And it’s like, I don’t even know how to respond to that. [I think a lot of it comes from] this idea that disabled people are passive, and this also bleeds into the idea that bottoms must be passive. But bottoms can be powerful, too!”
Kyle Ankney is gay and has Cerebral Palsy. He adds that certain assumptions may stem from the fact that physically disabled people are often perceived as — or happen to be — physically weaker, thus automatically making them bottoms.
“When you add in the inherent strength disadvantage that often accompanies a physical disability, I think that translates to ‘submissive’ for a lot of guys,” he says.
Even then, Kyle doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the whole top, bottom, vers classification, he says.
“Sure, most people likely have a sexual preference, but I’ve always felt your ‘role’ has more to do with the dynamic you have with the other person you’re with at the time,” he says.
No matter what role he finds himself playing in the bedroom, Kyle admits, “I would be lying if I said I haven’t bottomed far more than I’ve topped. For whatever reason, guys seem to want me to bottom. I’ve wondered if it has something to do with my disability, and I think it does to some extent.”
As for Andrew, the self-described top? Don’t put him into a box quite yet.
“Bottoming is something that I have really wanted to do ever since I started having sex at age 19,” he says. “I’m 35 now, and really feel like I’m missing out on something that’s a central part of the queer experience by not being bred by a hot dude.”
If my week-long investigation has taught me anything, it’s that the disabled LGBTQ community really isn’t that special compared to everyone else. There are disabled tops. There are disabled bottoms. There are disabled people who don’t need, or want, a label. (There’s also the one disabled guy who said “OMG I have THOUGHTS!” when I told him about this story, but then got too busy, so I guess we’ll never know said thoughts.)
And then there are those who just really want to be bred by a dude. And who am I to question them, or make assumptions? After all, it’s all just about pleasure in the end… something we all deserve, disabled or not.
Now, where’s my wine?
Josh Galassi is very gay and very disabled, if you haven’t noticed. Sometimes, he writes about both those things, and sometimes, he doesn’t. He lives in Seattle with his boyfriend and their dog, Carmen Sandiego, who, it turns out, was on Craigslist the entire time (where they bought her). You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, or at a nearby coffee shop obsessing over cold brew.