“You’re not a real top.”
Those words may have been uttered to Alan many years ago. But they are words that he would never forget.
That night started out like most Grindr hook-ups. Horny after a stressful day at work, Alan was in need of a release. A few taps and texts later, he found himself in the room of a cute twink.
Everything went smoothly at first. But when the time for foreplay was over, Alan couldn’t rise to the occasion. That was when the frustrated twink made the remark, ironically destroying any hope of Alan getting it up.
The hook-up soured pretty quickly soon after. Neither party managed to unload. And Alan left rather abruptly.
For the twink, it was merely a case of bad sex. But for Alan, that was the last time he ever tried to top.
Dear Straight People,
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects millions of men worldwide, gay men included.
Contrary to popular belief, ED does not only affect older men. While its prevalence does tend to increase with age, ED affects men of all ages. The inability to sustain an erection can have many causes. But regardless of the factors, its consequences are often profound.
Just ask Dr Bosty Chan. A seasoned men’s health clinician, Dr Bosty Chan has consulted more than 5,000 men with ED over the years.
“Psychological ED is a lot more common than we think. It can affect anyone, especially men. Whether you are gay or straight, it is vital to seek help early before it affects your relationship.”Dr Bosty Chan
Gay Men Are More Likely To Have Erectile Dysfunction
In a 2019 research that compared sexual function between homosexual and heterosexual men, the study found that gay men are 50% (1.5x) more likely to report having ED compared to their straight counterparts.
The research did not yield any concrete conclusions on why gay men are more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction. But theories are aplenty. Perhaps it’s due to societal pressure that leads to higher stress levels for gay men. Or maybe its the uniquely challenging dynamics of gay sex itself.
Regardless of the cause, one thing is for certain. Erectile dysfunction is a topic that doesn’t get talked about much in gay circles.
Stigmatisation Of Erectile Dysfunction
Maybe it’s because many of us were bullied for being effeminate in our younger years. But toxic masculinity permeates much of gay culture.
Toxic masculinity refers to the cultural expectations imposed on men that enforce the suppression of anything perceived as ‘feminine’. The ways in which toxic masculinity manifests itself in the gay community are many. But it’s perhaps most evident on gay dating apps, where phrases such as ‘Straight acting only’ and ‘No fems’ are a common sight.
The pressure for men to embody sexual prowess have led to an environment where intimate issues such as erectile dysfunction have become stigmatised.
But it’s time to break the silence surrounding ED.
Gay Men VS Erectile Dysfunction
In the realm of gay sex, positions play a significant role. To put it simply, gay men generally identify as tops (the giver) or bottoms (the receiver). Yes, there are gay men who are versatile or sides. But for the sake of this article, we will confine the discussions to tops versus bottoms.
In order to top, an erection is needed. While some tops may be turned on by a bottom who is hard, an erection is not necessary for bottoming. This dynamic bestows upon gay men a unique flexibility, allowing them to pivot between being a top or a bottom.
Now, consider the plight of gay men grappling with erectile dysfunction. For them, their inability to maintain an erection may make topping difficult. In some cases, it’s impossible. An easy way out would be to just assume the bottom role.
Yet, this seemingly simple shift can unfurl a complex tapestry of emotions. In this tempest of self-doubt, the emotional toll of ED deepens, forming a relentless vortex of performance anxiety. Thus, a harrowing cycle ensues, compelling them to gravitate towards bottoming as a refuge from top-induced anxiety.
To shed further light on this issue, we put out an open call for interviewees on our Instagram stories.
The Men Forced To Bottom Because Of Erectile Dysfunction
Although our Instagram story attracted quite a bit of eyeballs, only two men came forward. Both men only did so under the condition of anonymity.
First up, we have Alan, a Singaporean who is currently in his late thirties. A top for most of his twenties, Alan started experiencing ED around the time he hit 30.
“It wasn’t full-on ED though. Either I couldn’t stay erect throughout the session, or it took me a while to get it up. But that was when I first started to have performance anxiety.”
The turning point for Alan was when a Grindr hook-up turned sour after the bottom remarked that Alan was ‘not a real top’.
“That really affected me and so that was when I made the choice to just be a bottom.”
In contrast, 56-year old American Derek, experienced a more gradual transition to bottoming.
“I was always versatile. There were a few times where I couldn’t stay erect. After more and more of such incidents, I decided to just be a bottom.”
It has been years since both men switched sides. Naturally, curiosity arose about their feelings toward being a bottom.
Alan: I would say I’ve learnt to enjoy bottoming over the years. I’m still not a fan of the pain that sometimes comes with it though. So I do rely on poppers alot to bottom.
Derek: I enjoy it for the act but not on a true sensory level. I think prostates and rosebuds are either sensitive or not. Mine are not.
Grappling With The Consequences Of Erectile Dysfunction
While bottoming has become a refuge of sorts for both men, it has affected them in other ways.
Like all men struggling with ED, their self-esteem has taken a hit. Bottoming may have lessened the pressure to maintain an erection during sex. But it’s still a major point of insecurity for Derek.
“About 5 years ago, I decided to keep a jock strap on all the time so my partner wouldn’t see that I was soft.”
For Alan who is still single, it has limited his options for partners. While Alan was a vers top for most of his twenties, he now considers himself a vers bottom.
“Sex is an important aspect of any relationship, so I can’t really date other bottoms now.”
When the need to top does arise, Alan will only do so if he has viagra on hand. But for the most part, Alan has embraced his role as a bottom.
“I do miss topping but given my performance anxiety issues, I just don’t want to take the risk of disappointing both the bottom and myself.”
Not Seeking Help For Erectile Dysfunction
Through my conversations with both men, it’s apparent that becoming a bottom due to ED has left a deep impact on their lives and psyche. Surprisingly, neither of them has sought professional help.
Alan: It honestly just never occurred to me to seek professional help.
Derek: I have not sought treatment because I think it is due to my health and weight gain.
The reluctance to seek professional help is not uncommon. Toxic masculinity pressures men to handle issues independently. When it comes to sensitive matters like erectile dysfunction, the stigma is even stronger.
But it’s crucial to recognise that erectile dysfunction is not a roadblock; it’s a condition, and conditions can be treated.
SIRE: Men’s Health Clinic Specialising In Erectile Dysfunction
Your journey toward regaining control of your sexual health begins with one crucial step: seeking professional help.
Introducing SIRE, an online men’s health clinic with a specialised focus on addressing the types of concerns that many would rather keep private. Founded by Dr. Bosty Chan, SIRE has garnered recognition from prestigious publications such as the Business Times. In fact, they were recently awarded the ‘Top 3 Most Promising Telehealth Service Providers in Southeast Asia 2023’.
SIRE understands the intricacies of ED and offers specialised treatments designed to suit your unique needs. As a digital clinic, SIRE provides a discreet, convenient, and effective avenue for men to access the professional assistance they need.
Remember, there is no shame in seeking help. The path to a renewed sense of confidence and vitality is just a click away.
Special Offer Alert: SIRE has very generously agreed to offer an exclusive deal to Dear Straight People’s readers. Enjoy a FREE consultation (U.P $17) with none other than the esteemed Dr. Bosty Chan himself. Simply check-out with our promo code DSPSIRE.
*Names of our interviewees for this article have been changed to preserve their anonymity.
This post was brought to you by Sire Singapore.