Dear Bearded Confidant,

Many thanks for your advice in the past. You have always helped me stretch my horizons (amongst other things) and once again I seek your wisdom.

From my previous correspondence you may have gathered that I have a penchant for taking it squarely up the rear end. Despite the odd snigger from a straight friend when they discover that I am exclusively bottom, I have always been inclined to think that taking it in the bum is a thoroughly masculine activity. The ability to relinquish control and allow and amply endowed gentleman to utilise one's back passage as an avenue for pleasure requires a fair bit of manly courage and endurance.

Recent events however, have lead me to think otherwise. While engaging in this most manly of pastimes, my lover whispered into my ear in a deep voice - "squeeze that tight pussy". I turned round and surveyed the scene - I had a man between my legs, one of his hands on my right shoulder and the other on my left arse cheek - not the most masculine of positions to be in. Now, rather than finding his comment an affront, I found myself pushing back, giving into the sensation and indeed squeezing my "pussy".

So the question that I have for you today dear Bearded Confidant is one that perhaps a lot of gay men have on their mind but are too afraid to ask - "Are bottoms viewed as lesser men by themselves and by gay society in general".

I humbly await your reply.

Dear Arthur or Marthur,

In his poetically explicit lyrics to "Street Jizz" (in which publicly nocturnal emissions are likened to beams of white light shooting through the darkness), Cody Critcheloe recalls that when his parents cautioned him to always watch his back, he perspicaciously replied, "But I can only see what's in front of me when I'm on my back."  Here's a similar sentiment, expressed in the book The Art of Being Human (1993): "We secretly know the view from the bottom is ultimately safer than the view from the top."  These are compelling arguments that there's nothing inherently weak or submissive about being in a supine position.  And, as you said, taking a cock up the bum is thoroughly masculine as it requires courage, endurance, and a gentlemanly bowing out of control.  As the Taoist wise men have taught, it is the strong who are able to yield.  Indeed, yielding is empowering.

Now, not all gay men are poets or sages, and mundane perspectives on topping and bottoming are common.  The gymnastic rough-and-tumbles of mansex recall wrestling, and there's a well-defined hierarchy of positions within the philosophy of self-defense.  In the martial arts, for example, "if the top man is in a dominant position, then the bottom man is in an inferior position.  The more dominating the top man's position, the more inferior the bottom man's position" (Mastering Jujitsu, 2003).  Such perceptions of top superiority and bottom inferiority easily translate from the sports arena into the bedroom.  Hence, bottom men are quite often viewed as lesser men by themselves and by gay society in general.

But here's where it gets interesting.  Let's recall your example of the man between your legs telling you to squeeze your "pussy," and you in turn squeezing your "pussy."  What happened then was something more profound than might meet the eye.  What happened then was a transcending of masculine and feminine — a synthesis of opposites, a restoration of primordial wholeness that the alchemists of old called "Rebis" (meaning "double thing").  According to Gnostic mythology, the divine androgyne called Hermaphrodite represents the primal (androgynous) being and is therefore the unification of all opposites, in particular a reconciliation of the conscious and unconscious.  Consider the Chinese Yin-Yang, with its black and white halves, which symbolizes the polarization of primal oneness.  Now consider the opposite qualities that are contained within you, held in tension.  These opposing qualities can be brought into harmony when a man squeezes his "pussy" or gives suckle from his "tits."  The Hermaphrodite also calls you to consider what you can generate for yourself, without the help of another.  It demands that you go deep inside yourself (with or without the assistance of a sex toy), to the core where your masculine and feminine aspects are joined.  Here you can experience the wholeness of a reconciled conscious and unconscious Self.  Focus on the desire to experience this union of your divided Self.  Sit in silence with the intention of recognizing all the aspects of your Self.  Repeated meditation (and/or penetration) may be required to open yourself to this transcendent experience.

So taking a cock up the bum is profoundly masculine yet simultaneously profoundly feminine, to the point that it's neither male nor female but something far greater and more meaningful.  The German mystic Jakob Böhme (b. 1575) describes the first man, Adam, as androgynous: "He had the limbus [seed] and also the matrix [womb] in himself; he was no male or man, nor female or woman."  Frankly, all gay men, equipped as they are with a pole and a hole, belong to Adam's family (no, not macabre Addams Family of cartoon and television fame, though they're cool, too).  It's what sets gay men apart from (and, dare I say so far above?) heterosexual men.  So squeeze away that pussy of yours — it's divine!  (No, not the flamboyant Divine of John Waters fame, though he was cool, too.)