Gay men in relationships are often asked by friends the question, “Which one of you is the man?” Yes, it is an annoying and even perturbing question. We all know each has a penis. But what they’re really asking is, “What role do you play in the relationship?
Whether they realize it or not, gay couples are inclined to mirror heterosexual relationships when it comes to sharing a household. It has been planted into our subconsciousness by history. For generations, there’s been one black-and-white kind of union between a man and a woman. It became the unquestionable model where the roles were dictated by gender. And most of us still grew up in such traditional household.
In some gay relationships, the subject of gender roles may be the elephant in the room. No one wants to address it because we like to pretend it’s not there. The problem is not that it exists, the problem is that it creates inequality, resentment and discord. When it comes to gender roles in gay relationships, does it come down to the role we play in bed? Or is it just pride or compliance?
A possible root of gender roles in gay relationships may have to do with sex. In our gay culture, the top is considered to have dominance over the bottom. This takes us back to the traditional model we grew up with where the man is the dominant figure and the woman is a passive or even submissive character. What gives the top dominance is a whole other subject, but for the sake of gender roles, let’s say that the top assumes the masculine role and the bottom assumes the feminine role.
Pride may also play a part in gender roles among gay couples. And we’re not talking about gay pride, we’re talking about masculine pride. A gay man who regards himself as straight-acting takes pride in his masculinity, therefore tends to avoid performing any activities that he considers emasculating. This type of man has a tendency to assume the “masculine” role of the relationship.
On the other hand, the “feminine” role may be assumed due to compliance. That is, to avoid conflict, confrontation, and a filthy home, one person in the relationship will take on the responsibilities traditionally assigned to the woman. However, when chores are not equally divided, it creates a feeling of unfairness and inequality in the relationship.
Gay people have been fighting the get the equal treatment by society for decades, only to completely destroy that notion in their own relationships. It’s time to put an end to gender roles in gay relationships. And remember, two chopsticks work out because they are both the same (yes one is usually on top and the other one is usually on the bottom, but still), not because one tries to be the fork and the other one tries to be the knife.