Saturday, August 25, 2012


(Grabbed from Raphael Perez)

“Eto yung facebook niya, type mo ba?”

This was the first time I saw him, as my friend showed me the Facebook account of Carlo through his Android phone.

“Wow naman, pretty boy yan. Pretty boys like him will never date a geeky chubby guy like me.”

Carlo is exactly a pretty boy – a young man, petite, more beautiful than handsome. In his profile picture, he wore a black polo shirt and a smile that radiates beyond the captured photo.

“Add mo daw siya.” My friend told me as they were exchanging SMS.

 “Ayoko, hiya ako eh. Ano pangalan niya, search ko nga.”  As I discreetly opened his FB page through my iPod, I saw more profile pictures of him.

Shit. Ang guapo. Pero pretty boy talaga. I said to myself, as my heart pounded a little faster. Pretty boys are my type. But I was never lucky with pretty boys.

“In-add ka na raw niya,” my friend reported.

I excitedly opened the friend request tab. “Sure ka? Wala eh,”  I asked, a bit disappointed when I didn’t see his name.

“Oo, sabi niya. Patingin nga ng iPod mo.” My friend grabbed my iPod and quickly added him in my contact list.

“O ayan, I added him na!”

“Waaah, shit, sure ka? Kakahiya,” I reacted.


This was how it all began.

A year has passed, it is only now that I decided to write this story. I am writing this story because I do not want to forget. I am writing this story because stories like these - stories of people like me and our love - need to be written, read, and reread. I am writing this story because...  etong si pretty boy, geeky chubs like me pala ang type!

This time, I was a lucky guy afterall.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Devotion Project

A friend of mine shared a YouTube link a few days back with the title, The Devotion Project. And it is the most poignant short film I ever saw.
Devotion (noun): 1. profound dedication; 2. earnest attachment to a cause, person etc. (
According to their website, The Devotion Project is a series of short documentary portraits of LGBT couples, examining and celebrating their commitment and devotion. This first short film in the series, "More than Ever" documents Bill Campbell and John Hilton's 54-year love story. It won the Audience Award for Best Short at Newfest: The New York LGBT Film Festival (and it won my heart)

It is only less than ten minutes, watch the film here:

Beautiful story.

54 years! That is 4536 gay relationship months or 378 gay relationship years! (Funny, they say that for every month you are in a same-sex relationship, it is multiplied by seven months)

After watching the film -- and also being a counseling psychologist and a gay-relationship-advocate wannabee, I asked myself, what was their secret? I want to know their secret because I know it is not easy. I had two 3-year relationships and currently working on another one (Oh incidentally, we are celebrating our third month today and this film is a sweet reminder that sometimes it hurts but sometimes it also last in love instead!)

But I discovered one secret and John Hilton wrote it last July 2011 in Life Lesson with Bill Campbell.
"How can love be profane if it really is love?," he asked. 
"Every day of our life together, Bill and I valued more and more, the privilege of spending our life with each other. We quickly admonished ourselves about any feelings of guilt about our happiness but instead concentrated to understand it as the very evidence we perpetually sought that we were living in the right way."
 The director and producer Anthony Osso shared the birth of this project. Watch it here:

My prayer tonight: "I want to be like that and I can do that too."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) comes out of the closet!

I am happy and proud of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) – to which I am a member – for their recent statement on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression! This is both a historic event for Philippine psychology and for Filipino LGBTs.

I was part of the consultation with other LGBT and non-LGBT psychologists but it was Eric JulianManalastas who gave his body and soul to it (no pun directed). Thank you, Eric – you are really a king (or queen, whatever you prefer) in LGBT psychology!

You can check the PAP’s statement in their News and Updates section of their website.

Or, you can just read on.

Statement of the Psychological Association of the Philippines on Non Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos continue to experience stigma, prejudice, and discrimination in Philippine society. This stigma is manifested in actions such as: bullying, teasing, and harassment of LGBT children and adolescents in families, schools, and communities; media portrayal of LGBTs as frivolous, untrustworthy, and even dangerous or predatory; denying transgender Filipinos entry into commercial establishments; pigeonholing LGBT Filipinos into particularly limited roles and occupations; or curtailing their rights to participate in the political sphere.

LGBT Filipinos often confront social pressures to hide, suppress or even attempt to change their identities and expressions as conditions for their social acceptance and enjoyment of rights. Although many LGBTs learn to cope with this social stigma, these experiences can cause serious psychological distress, including immediate consequences such as fear, sadness, alienation, anger, and internalized stigma (Hatzenbuehler, 2009; Meyer, 2003). This anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination tend to be based on a rhetoric of moral condemnation and are fueled by ignorance or unfounded beliefs associating these gender expressions and sexual orientations with psychopathology or maladjustment.

However, decades of scientific research have led mental health professional organizations worldwide to conclude that lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are normal variants of human sexuality.  These include: the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, the American Psychological Association in 1975, British Psychological Society, the Colombian Society of Psychology, Psychological Society of South Africa, the Australian Psychological Society, and the International Network on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns and Transgender Issues in Psychology, among others.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) aligns itself with the global initiatives to remove the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with diverse sexualities and to promote the wellbeing of LGBT people. Moreover, the PAP Code of Ethics (2010) is clear in its stance against discrimination. Filipino psychologists are called upon to recognize the unique worth and inherent dignity of all human beings; and to respect the diversity among persons and peoples (Principle I, a and b).  This means that Filipino psychologists should not discriminate against or demean persons based on actual or perceived differences in characteristics including gender identity and sexual orientation (Ethical Standard III-A and C; V-B.8).

In order to eliminate stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBT, the PAP resolves to support efforts to:

• oppose all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression;

• repeal discriminatory laws and policies, and support the passage of legislation at the local and national levels that protect the rights and promote the welfare of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions;

• eliminate all forms of prejudice and discrimination against LGBTs in teaching, research, psychological interventions, assessment and other psychological programs;

• encourage psychological research that addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT Filipinos and their families and communities;

• disseminate and apply accurate and evidence-based information about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to design interventions that foster mental health and wellbeing of LGBT Filipinos.


American Psychiatric Association. (1973). Position statement on homosexuality and civil rights. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131; 497.

Anton, B.S. (2009). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association for the legislative year 2008: Minutes of the annual meeting of the Council of Representatives, February 22-24, 2008, Washington, DC, and August 13 and 17, 2008, Boston, MA, and minutes of the February, June, August, and December 2008 meetings of the Board of Directors. American Psychologist, 64; 372-453.

Conger, J.J. (1975). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the year 1974: Minutes of the annual meeting of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 30; 620-651.

Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2009). How does sexual minority stigma “get under the skin”? A psychological mediation framework. Psychological Bulletin, 135; 707-730.

International Network for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns and Transgender Issues in Psychology (2001). Sexual orientation and mental health: Toward global perspectives on practice and policy. Retrieved from

Meyer, I. H. (2003).Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129; 674-697.

Psychological Association of the Philippines Scientific and Professional Ethics Committee. (2010). Code of Ethics for Philippine Psychologists. Philippine Journal of Psychology, 43; 195-217.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You know you're in love...

#1: When as soon as you wake up, you check your phone and see if he already left a message.

 #2: When your phone inbox is full of his messages and you have the compulsion to write all his messages in a notebook!

 #3: When you whisper a silent prayer for him before you sleep and when you mentally add his name to the list people your guardian angel should also protect.

 #4: When you asked somebody to surprise him with roses at his office because you are currently islands apart.

 #5: When his picture is your ipod wallpaper.

 #6: Kung maglalis mo kung kinsay una mo butang sa phone, "Ikaw una, sige ikaw na lang, dungan na lang ta, sige 1 2 3..."

 #7: When the first person you send an sms or call after your plane just landed is your beloved.

 #8: When you cook for your beloved - even if it is only sausages and eggs (no pun intended, or pwede na rin).

 #9: When you voluntarily deactivate your Grindr account.

 #10: When you introduced him to the family when showed sympathy by visiting the wake of your grandfather.

 #11: When about a few weeks ago, you were hooked up with George R.R. Martin's Westeros world but now all you think about is your beloved.

 #12: When you don't mind staying inside your room with your beloved the whole day - and it seems that we are the world! Haha!

 #13: When you edit and add AA at the beginning of his name in your phone book - para siya ang unang tao sa phone list mo.

# 14: When your beloved evokes varied emotions in you within an hour -- from happiness, acceptance, security, and excitement to sadness, fear of rejection, insecurity, humiliation, and anger.

#15: Kung siya at ikaw ang profile pic mo. (Bu-ak ra teh?!!)

#16: When listening to Adele doesn't hurt as much anymore.

#17: Kahit na nagkikita kayo araw-araw, pero tuwing paguwi mo, pakiramdam mo kulang pa rin ang pagsasama niyo.

#18: When strolling around the mall and looking for a monthsary gift for your beloved is therapeutic.

#19: When you distract yourself with a movie so that you wouldn't be missing him much on his weekend Bohol tour.

#20: When life is always beautiful.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why We Should Be Allowed to Get Married

“In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do…” sings Alicia Keys. 

New York City joins Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Washington, D.C., in legally recognizing gay marriage. Although in the US, same-sex marriages are not recognized federally, but other countries have nationwide legal recognition of same-sex marriage like Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. (Check this 2008 world map on where homosexuality is legal and illegal.)

Talks of same-sex marriages resurfaced in the Philippines after the legalization of same-sex marriages in New York. And almost on the same weekend, the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) performed wedding rites for eight gay and lesbian couples in Baguio City.This sparked strong reactions from the Catholic Church and even local officials of Baguio City.

But why should LGBT people be allowed to get married? Although I cannot reconcile disputes about core values brought about by this controversy, I can only address factual questions and provide answers from psychological empirical researches.

Gregory Herek, a social psychologist, summarized research studies on why marriage is not only for opposite-sex couples but also for same-sex couples in his article, “Legal recognition of same-sex relationship in the United States: A social science perspective” published in American Psychologist (September, 2006).

Most LGBT political organizations emphasized the legal and economic benefits of same-sex marriage but there are psychological benefits too.

A lot of researches have shown that married men and women who are satisfied with their relationship generally experience better physical and mental health than their unmarried counterpart (single, cohabiting, or its complicated status). But Herek wrote that the positive health effects of marriage result from the “tangible resources and protection accorded to spouses by the society.”

Herek summarized these points:

  1. Married couples have greater economic and financial security than unmarried couples. This is due to tax, employment, death, and entitlement benefits. Studies have shown that financial security is an important predictor of mental and physical health.

  1. Married couples have greater social support than unmarried couples from parents, friends, and even priests! The wedding ceremony, afterall, is a public commitment by the couple and the attendees to make the marriage work. This public commitment ceremony increases each relationship partner’s sense of security that the relationship will last.

  1. Married couples have buffers against psychological stress associated with stressful life events. Spouses have a sense of personal control during different types of stressful situations because of their legal status. For example, a spouse can make health decisions to continue or end the life of a sick or injured partner, and can make funeral decisions and burial arrangements. Also, a spouse can choose not to testify against one’s partner who is under litigation because (at least in US laws) it is part of the marital privileges.

  1. Married couples have a harder time in ending their relationship compared to unmarried couples because of the barriers and constraints of dissolving the relationship. Feelings of obligation to one’s spouse, children, and family, moral and religious values about divorce, legal restrictions, financial concerns, and the expected disapproval of friends and the community are barriers to terminating a marriage. In turn, marriage can be a source of relationship stability and commitment.

Without legal recognition, same-sex couples lack both the practical benefits of marriage and the buffers that marriage provides against the consequences of traumatic events and relationship dissolution. According to Herek, these are consequences of non-recognition of same-sex couples:

  1. Same-sex couples do not enjoy the many economic protections of marriage in areas such as taxation, property rights, employment, and health benefits.  (I am not well versed with the Philippine laws but I still think that the financial situation of opposite-sex married couples is still way better than those of same-sex couples in the country.)

  1. Same-sex couples lack the protections that marriage provides when a lifetime partner dies. Although some couples are well-informed and create legal protections when these things might happen through wills and contracts, these are still expenses for the couple -- and even these measures do not always protect the partner! (For example, if partners didn’t create legal protections, the house built by both partners over the years of their relationship can easily be “stolen” by the biological family of the deceased partner.)

  1. Same-sex couples may have problems with exclusion of one’s partner to medical care, hospital access and visitation, and health decision making. When one partner dies, the surviving partner will have to face possible exclusion from funeral and burial arrangements by the biological family. This might result to the inability to cope from this stressor and therefore increasing the risk of physical and mental illness in the future.

  1. Same-sex couples do not have the barriers to relationship dissolution that the institution of marriage provides to opposite-sex couples. We always think and say that gay relationships do not last. But we are not also given a chance. Same-sex relationships are most likely to last longer and be more stable if the partners received the same levels of social support and public recognition of their relationship that opposite-sex couples enjoy.

I am happy for New York. I am happy for the Filipino LGBTs who are living in New York. At least, they have a chance to live a married life, a chance to a better life. Marriage has psychosocial benefits and protections and when it is denied to same-sex couples, it is unjust, inhuman, and maybe to my definition, even sinful.  

But for the Philippines? I sigh.

I dream of becoming married one day – married to a man. I want my Mom and Dad, my brothers, nephews and nieces to be there – happy for me, happy for us. And of course, I want his family to be there too… and my friends and his friends. And on our wedding night and beyond, I will be dashing and he will be handsome. And there will be music… and poetry... and theater (some drama and some comedy!). We will laugh… and sometimes cry, sing… and sometimes shout, but we will dance… to forever.


Herek, G. (2006.) Legal recognition of same-sex relationship in the United States: A social science perspective. American Psychologist, 61 (6), 607-621.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Of Romantic Rejection and Heart's Braking

Of all pains, the greatest pain,
Is to love, and to love in vain.

George Granville

A year ago, I wrote an article (Of Romantic Rejection and Pain) on how the experience of heartache is not only symbolic but also real.  A study by Nathan DeWall and his colleagues from University of Kentucky has shown through fMRI scans that emotional pain like being romantically rejected affects the same primary brain regions as that of physical pain.

But is it all in the brain? I am no stranger to rejections, socially or romantically. And I know what rejection feels like - sometimes it is like your heart is being crushed by a hand, and on other times, it feels like your heart is being pricked by thorns. So one might ask, is your heart just a muscle for pumping blood, and if so, is being heartbroken only symbolic?

Current research published in Psychological Science (August 2010) by Bregtje Moor, Eveline Crone and Maurits van der Molen of the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University in the Netherlands investigated if rejection affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turns, slows the heart rate. 

Participants were asked to submit a portrait photograph of themselves weeks prior to the experiment and were led to believe that other individuals of the same age would look at the photos and decide whether they liked the person or not.

A few weeks after, each volunteer came to the laboratory. They had wires placed on their chest for an electrocardiogram while they view 120 photos of different faces they didn’t know. For each face, they were asked to guess whether that person liked them or not (a social judgment task). Afterwards, they were told whether the person actually “liked” them or not.  But unknown to the participants, the feedback was a randomly computer generated response.

Also, to determine if social rejection really slows the heart drastically compared to other feedback, the participants were asked to judge whether the person in the photograph was 21 years of age or older (an age judgment task). Feedback was also given if participants accurately predicted the age of the other person.

Results have shown that in any feedback, participants’ heart rates slow down but recover back to baseline very quickly. But when given negative feedback (like when participants wrongly guessed the age of the person in the picture), the recovery was delayed. 

But when they were told the person in the photograph didn’t like them, the heart rate dropped further and was slower to get back up to the usual rate. Furthermore, participants exhibit a pronounced heart rate slowing - the authors are saying that in effect, a “heartbrake” – when participants expected that the other person likes them!

Thus, UNexpected rejection brakes the heart more than expected rejection! 

Then I asked, how does one love: to love with abandon or to love hesitatingly (half expecting to be rejected)?

Although this deserves another blog entry, I know that some hearts are adventurous, some hearts are fearful. Some hearts are resilient, some hearts are exhausted. But one thing I am sure of love - either successful or jilted - love is not for the weak of heart.

Moor, B., Crone, E., & Van der Molen, M. (2010). The heartbrake of social rejection: Heart Rate deceleration in response to unexpected peer rejection. Psychological Science, 21(9), 1326-1333. (Download article here).

Monday, June 13, 2011

what is the word in your heart?

At the end of each day, I would always ask myself:

“What is the word in your heart? Is it a yes or a no?”

Today, I answered, “Yes.”

Tomorrow, I will achieve that my answer is a yes.

 (The Odyssey by Mathilde Stein)

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

e. e. cummings

Saturday, April 9, 2011

power motive behind tops and bottoms

A few days ago I wrote an article about that one question in the gay scene that can make or break that one hot passionate encounter or that one possible romantic relationship. (Read Part 1.)

Are you a top or a bottom?

Scientists have studied these sexual self-labels and their meaningful correlates on sexual behaviors and personality. (I have summarized it here.)  Among other correlates, studies have showed that tops desired sex where they were dominant and in control whereas bottoms desired sex where they were overpowered.

Will Damon interviewed 20 gay men -- 10 tops & 10 bottoms who reported that they have had penetrative anal sex with a man in the last six months and who reported a consistent and strong sexual role preference. He asked them what turned them on about their preferred sexual role, what they disliked about the other role, and if there were any situational factors that influenced their preference. Results were published in the Canadian Journal of Homosexuality (2000). 

Tops were asked and these were their replies:

What are the things about insertive anal sex turn you on?
"Dominance ... I like that. Like when I'm slamming into them, I have control over them. I can hold them down and fuck them."
 "With a guy on his back with his legs on my shoulders, I feel great control over him. It is me grabbing his legs, me engulfing him with my mouth, me pulling him to me, me devouring him sexually."
Is being the insertive partner a natural outgrowth of who you are and is being the receptive partner unnatural?
"It's more natural for me ... more comfortable. I would never feel comfortable getting fucked. It feels wrong. I never fantasized about it. I thought I had to do it at one time. When I realized I didn't, I was relieved."
"I'm aggressive in every part of my life ... being a top is just part of that."
What do you dislike about being the receptive partner in sex?
"I don't like the idea of surrendering to anyone. The few times I've been fucked, I was definitely a ‘top bottom.’ I was aggressive and totally in control."
"When I have been fucked, I put myself in the top position of the guy who was fucking me. It's almost like, if I'm not in control, I'm not interested in it, so I mentally put myself in that position."

On the other hand, bottoms were asked and these were their replies:

What are the things about receptive anal sex turn you on?
"I like strong, aggressive, dominant men. The feeling of dominance over me turns me on."
 "I like feeling more submissive. I like feeling overpowered. I like a guy who is really into fucking. There is a masculinity about the ability to fuck. That masculinity turns me on."
What other factors other than sexual pleasure influenced you desire to be the receptive partner in sex?
"I have to be in control of things all day. In sex, I can give that up."
"I'm a very controlling person, and I take control in all these other areas of my life. In sex, I like to give up control. Someone else is taking care of me. Someone else is calling the shots. I do it every other minute of the day. I don't want to do it in sex too."
What do you dislike about insertive anal sex?
"With being a top, comes a role with it. I wouldn't get a rest from being dominant. You have to be aggressive in all domains. I don't want a wimpy top, so I have these expectations of a top. I wouldn't want someone to have those expectations of me."
“With men, I can get what I want ... the masculine energy ... instead of having to be that--hypermasculine, buffed, pumped up--all the time. It was so much pressure to have to be that."

Although with a small sample size, many of their responses were related to themes of power, either desiring it or surrendering it. Tops reported liking the power, dominance, and control aspects of being the insertive partner whereas bottoms liked the idea of being overpowered during sex. Tops felt natural about their role and felt uncomfortable with the loss of control they experienced in receptive anal sex. On the other hand, bottoms want to give up control in sex to achieve that sense of balance since they are already controlling in other aspects of their life. Also, they reported being uncomfortable with the role that came with being the insertive partner.

So if someone asks me if I am a top or a bottom, my answer is a question, “why, what turns you on?” 

Call me romantic or naïve, but good food, great conversations, and lots of mutual affection turn me on!

Damon, W (2001). The relations of power and intimacy motives to genitoerotic role preferences in gay men: A pilot study. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 9(1) 15-30.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

what's in a name: tops, bottoms, and versatiles?

There is one question in the gay scene that can make or break that one hot passionate encounter or that one possible romantic relationship. The question is:

“Are you a top or a bottom?”

To the heterosexual scene, some might interpret this as who is the dominant or the submissive partner, the king or the queen. But for people like us, we know that tops are those people who get more pleasure (or perhaps suffer less anxiety or discomfort) from acting as the insertive partner during anal intercourse whereas bottoms are those who get more satisfaction from acting as the receptive partner. Versatiles, on the other hand, have no strong preference for either the insertive or the receptive role since they derive pleasure in doing both.

In my mind, I often answer, “Does it matter?” 

Jesse Bering, an evolutionary psychologist and a writer for Scientific American, said in his article “Top scientists get to the bottom of gay male sex role preferences” that there are logistical problems when two tops or two bottoms are in a monogamous relationship and they are most likely to encounter conflict than those who have complementary sexual roles.

I was surprised how scientists have already studied the top-bottom-versatile self-labels and their meaningful correlates on sexual fantasy, behaviors, sexual satisfaction, physical preferences of partners, and personality. So I have summarized some interesting results here:

1. Self-labels meaningfully predict sexual fantasies and overall sexual patterns (i.e., oral and anal sex). It means that those who identify as tops fantasize and are indeed more likely to act as the insertive partner, bottoms are more likely to fantasize and engage to be the receptive partner, and versatiles occupy an intermediate status in sexual fantasy and behavior (Hart et al., 2003; Wegison & Meyer-Bahlburg, 2000, Damon, 2000; Moskowitz, Rieger, & Roloff, 2008).

2. But even if one identifies as top or bottom, their sexual behaviors are not mutually exclusive to being insertive or receptive. Among the 205 participants of the study by Hart et al. (2003), 41% of tops have engaged in receptive anal intercourse and 39% of bottoms have engaged in insertive anal intercourse at least once in the last three months. But when it comes to oral sex, majority reported engaging in receptive oral intercourse despite of their sexual self-label.

3. Tops reported that insertive anal sex was significantly more sexually pleasurable than did bottoms whereas bottoms reported finding receptive anal sex significantly more pleasurable than did tops. With regards to oral sex, bottoms reported finding receptive oral sex significantly more pleasurable than did tops but there was no significant difference between groups on their assessment of the sexual pleasure involved in insertive oral sex (Damon, 2000).

4. If age, height, weight, hairiness, and penis size are indicators of masculinity, tops seek out sexual partners with less masculine features -- younger, smoother, shorter,  lighter, and less endowed penis while bottoms seek out sexual partners with more masculine features -- older, hairier, taller, more solid, and more endowed penis (Yee, 2002; Damon, 2000). 

5. Tops desired sex where they were dominant and in control whereas bottoms desired sex where they were overpowered or "taken" in their narratives (Damon, 2000) and more likely to prefer rough sex than the other categories (Yee, 2002). (More of this here.)

6. Tops, compared to bottoms, were significantly more likely to want to "show off", be "worshipped", and display their bodies by their partners during sex, and they were significantly more likely to desire a sex partner that looked up to them as a guide or mentor (Damon, 2000).

7. Tops were less likely than bottoms or versatiles to identify themselves as gay and are more likely to have had sex with a woman in the past three months (Hart et al., 2003; Carrier, 1989; Doll & Beeker, 1996).

8. Tops manifested higher internalized homophobia— the degree of discomfort about one’s homosexuality, than versatiles and bottoms (Hart et al., 2003; Ross & Rosser, 1996).

9. Bottoms report childhood feminine behavior and gender nonconformity and may choose to engage in sexual behavior that is more consistent with traditional feminine gender norms in adulthood (Weinrich et al., 1992; Damon 2000).

10. Versatiles pursue higher levels of sexual excitement and engage in novel sexual experiences and, thus, are more flexible in their sexual activity. They seem to enjoy better psychological health with lesser anxiety than the group who does not want to put a sexual label on themselves and lesser internalized homophobia than tops (Hart et al, 2003). 

So I throw the question back to you, “Are you a top or a bottom?”

Call me romantic and naive, but I thought love will solve that problem. =)


Carrier, J. M. (1989). Sexual behavior and spread of AIDS in Mexico. Medical Anthropology, 10, 129-142.
Damon, W (2001). The relations of power and intimacy motives to genitoerotic role preferences in gay men: A pilot study. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 9(1) 15-30.
Doll, L.S., & Beekr, C. (1996). Male bisexual behavior and HIV risk in the United States: Synthesis of research with implications for behavioral interventions. AIDS Education and Prevention, 8, 205-208
Hart, T., Wolitski, R.,  Purcell, D., Gomez, C., & Halkiti, P (2003). Sexual behavior among HIV-positive men who have sex with me: What’s in a label? The Journal of Sex Research, 40(2), 178-188
Moskowitz, D. A., Rieger, G., & Roloff, M. E. (2008). Tops, bottoms, and versatiles. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 23, 191-202.
Ross, M. W., & Rosser, B. R. S. (1996). Measures and correlates of internalized homophobia: A factor analytic study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52, 15-21.
Wegison, D., & Myer-Bahlburg, H. F. L. (2000). Top/bottom self label, anal sex practices, HIV risk and gender role identity in gay men in New York City. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 12, 43-62. 
Weinrich, J., Grant, I., Jacobson, D., Robinson, R., & McCutchan, J. (1992). Effects of recalled childhood gender nonconformity on adult genitoerotic role and AIDS exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 21(6) 559-585.
Yee, N. (2002). Beyond tops and bottoms: Correlations between sex-role preference and physical preferences for partners among gay men. Retrieved [April 4, 2011] from

Sunday, December 12, 2010

the myth of the king and the queen

“Niel, are you a king or a queen?”

A colleague innocently asked me the question above in one of our coffee bonding. Was she serious? I thought.  I don’t know if it was a compliment or not. I mean, isn’t it obvious?

But then, I paused and reconsidered what I was thinking. Was she asking about my sexual identity – our personal identification of our sexuality? Because if that’s what she meant, I am definitely a queen! =)

“But what do you mean by a king or queen?” I had to clarify what she meant by her question.

“I mean, in relationships, are you more of the male or the female?”  She answered.

“Ah, what you meant is the gender role I play when I am in 
a relationship…”

Gender role is a set of social and behavioral norms -- within a specific culture -- which is widely considered to be socially appropriate of the specific sex. Husbands are expected to do tasks that require physical strength (e.g., moving the furniture) and to financially provide the expenses of the home. On the other hand, wives are expected to take greater responsibility of the home (e.g., cook food, wash the dishes) and take care of the children.  

However, the view that husband and wife roles are universal in intimate relationships is a myth. And,  most people believe (and at times confused) that gays and lesbians also adhere to these gender roles (Peplau, 1993). In same-sex couples, who is the husband, who is the wife? Who is the king, who is the queen?

Studies have shown (at least those conducted in the west)  that cohabiting same-sex couples are less likely than different-sex couples to divide household labor according to culturally defined gender roles (Herek, 2006).  In fact, gay and lesbian couples divide chores fairly equally since most lesbians and gays are in dual earning relationships (Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007).

Kurdek (2005) summarized studies of same sex gender roles when they are in romantic relationships.

1.) Gay and lesbian couples do not assign roles like husband or wife for household labor. 

2.) Gay and lesbian couples are most likely than heterosexual couples to “negotiate a balance between achieving fair distribution of household labor and accommodating the different interests, skills, and work schedules of particular partners”

3.) A gay or lesbian partner is likely to specialize in the household tasks they do efficiently and effectively.  

When I was in a live-in relationship for three years, my ex-partner and I share and take turns at home. Since my ex-partner has more recipes in mind, he does most of the cooking. Since I am comfortable in washing the dishes, I usually volunteer to do it. I know of a lesbian couple who take turns in cooking their favorite dish and both are equally active in parenting their daughter. But when it comes to fixing the broken things at home, they hire an electrician, a carpenter, or a plumber for it.

But how about dates, who pays for it? Most gay men go dutch during dates or modifies by one offering to pay for dinner while the other pays for the movie. But, I am romantic – if it was my idea and I was the one who invited, I would like to pay for the date.

And how about sex? Well, that deserves another blog entry. =)

Gender roles are only suggestions on how relationships can work. These are only preferences. If you want to be a king, be a king. If you want to be a queen, be a queen! In the end, relationship satisfaction is all about relationship tasks done and relationship expectations met. 

But me, answering my colleague's question, "I am a king and at the same time a queen!"

Herek, G. (2006). Legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the United States: A social science perspective. American Psychologist, 61 (6), 607-621.
 Kurdek, L. (2005). What do we know about gay and lesbian couples? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (5), 251-254.
 Peplau, L. A. (1993) Lesbian and gay relationships. In Garnets, L. D., & Kimmel, D. C. (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on lesbian & gay male experiences (pp. 395-419). New York: Columbia University Press.
 Peplau, L. A., & Fingerhut, A. W. (2007). The close relationships of lesbians and gay men. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 405-424.