The Way of Nature

February 13th 2020


49 days until deadline

During my previous small dinner party of four, upon knowing my sexuality, the first question the hostess immediately asked was “Are you a top or a bottom?” It is a very common question I get from straight friends, though I certainly don’t go to parties and ask straight guests, “Do you do it in the missionary position or the cowgirl position?” Not only is that question rude, but it is also useless. So what if you do it in the cowgirl position? Apart from giving me the nightmare of imagining my friends as naked, it serves no other purpose. It offers me no additional insight about you or your relationship other than the fact that you are indeed having sex, just like every other person in the world. Yet part of being out and proud as a gay man is to educate the world about our existence. Answering intrusive questions is implied. It is certainly better than indifference. I can work with curiosity. In fact, I welcome it. But the problem is, sometimes this curiosity seems to disappear right after this question is resolved.

“Do you know that he is a top?” The hostess said in disbelief, referring to a classmate of ours who is slightly known for his effeminate way of speaking. The implication, of course, is that he is supposed to be a bottom.

I took no joy in participating in such assumptions and contemplated for a brief moment for a rebuttal to demystify this myth, the myth that we must be one or the other. Male or female. Top or bottom. Anything in-between is simply impossible to fathom. But I didn’t. For one thing, we literally just met. For another, I am tired of carrying the weight of my people on my shoulders all the time, a weight that seems to only exist when you are around “others.” When I am in Europe, I carry the weight of the Chinese people with me, for I simply cannot afford to embarrass myself in front of the “Westerners.” When I am in front of straight people, I cannot afford to make a fool out of myself, because I have a responsibility to my fellow gays. Yet this sense of responsibility is mostly self-appointed under the direction of my ego and my fear. When you are not afraid of the fury of others by simply being yourself, the weight naturally disappears, for you are an individual who could only live out an individual life. Not every Chinese person possesses the same personality traits and not every gay man fucks in the same position. When you truly embrace this fact, this indisputable fact that we are individuals who all deserve love and happiness, there is nothing else to defend.

The next question the hostess asked was, “How do you know you are gay?” In my mind I answered something like this:

Why do I prefer boys? Because of their shape and their voices and their smell and the way they move.

– Christopher Isherwood

But in reality, I answered with a counterquestion, “How do you know you like men?” For a moment she was lost with words, and I detected the subtle hint of displeasure in my voice since it was not the first time I heard such a question, and it triggered some unpleasant memories about someone in my past who was deeply infuriating. To diffuse the situation, I said that seeing the naked bodies of supposedly sexy women would arouse no reactions from me, other than noticing their nakedness.

I wonder if I could answer this question more strategically in the future. How do you explain that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west? There are explanations, of course, about our planets, our solar system, and the way of the universe. But should the motion of the sun commands explanation every time when it shows up in a conversation? We don’t explain things that are taken for granted. But unfortunately for gay people, certain things are not taken for granted by the majority. Thus we must regularly explain why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and hope that one day it will become such an obvious fact that no explanations will be required.

That day will come. But until then, be prepared for parties. Don’t be shy with alcohol. You might need lots of it.

My will is to live according to my nature, and to find a place where I can be what I am … But I’ll admit this—even if my nature were like theirs, I should still have to fight them, in one way or another. If boys didn’t exist, I should have to invent them.

– Christopher Isherwood

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