Tops, bottoms and versatiles

David A. Moskowitz*, Gerulf Rieger, Michael E. Roloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Amongst gay men, the self-label - top, bottom or versatile - reflects the sexual role preference during anal intercourse. This study explored whether this label could predict preferences for other sexual behaviors and the roles within those behaviors. First, the accuracy of the sexual self-label was tested. We confirmed that tops strongly preferred insertive anal intercourse; bottoms, receptive anal intercourse; and versatiles, both behaviors. Further tests showed that sexual self-label was indeed correlated with corresponding roles within sexual behaviors aside from intercourse, e.g. insertive urination or receptive fisting. About 75% of these sexual behaviors followed posited trends: tops being insertive; bottoms, receptive; and versatiles, between the two. Finally, within groups, tops were found to strongly prefer playing insertive rather than receptive roles; bottoms strongly prefer playing receptive to insertive roles; and versatiles were found to have an equal preference for playing both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Gay men
  • Sex roles
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Sexual self-identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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