Ask Jack: 'I don't like topping or bottoming - am I weird for not enjoying anal sex?'

Jack of Hearts tackles your teen sex and relationship problems from top to bottom.


Over the next few weeks, 17-year-old Jack Rothman, the fictional gay protagonist of Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L C Rosen, will be answering all your questionsabout gay sex, relationships, and navigating the tricky world of LGBT teen life.

If you've got a question you'd like answering, email [email protected] (all details will be kept strictly anonymous), and Jack will draw from his, erm, wealth of personal experience (trust us) to offer his advice.

Hi Jack, 

We’re not so dissimilar you and I, we both busy ourselves with dishing out sex and relationship advice to others, but there’s one way in which we’re massively different, and I thought that maybe you could help. It’s no secret that you love anal sex, you talk about that quite graphically, but whereas you love fucking and getting fucked, I quite simply love neither. I identify as a ‘side’, a gay guy who loves sex but doesn’t enjoy penetration, and although I’ve tried both topping and bottoming more times than I can count, I know it’s just not for me. I have a great sex life, and I’m proud of who I am, but I know loads of guys who feel the same but feel ashamed of who they are. How can I encourage them to accept themselves, and how can we encourage the rest of the world to accept that not liking anal sex is a perfectly valid thing?


Calum McSwiggan, aka Lost In A Top & Bottom World

Dear Calum,

It’s true. I have a lot of sex, some of it anal, and you were lucky to read all about it early (but everyone else will just have to take my word for it). But anal isn’t the only kind of sex out there.

I’m guessing that lots of queer boys first learned about how gay sex worked the same way I did - while sneaking porn on our phones or computers late at night. And here’s the thing about gay porn: it tends to be all about the anal.

Sure, there’s some stilted storyline, then the making out, maybe some hand stuff and frottage, then comes the oral, sometimes with rimming, and then, finally, the anal, after which everyone comes on each other.

The message is pretty clear: everything leads up to anal. And since queer sex isn’t taught alongside the basics of straight sex in school (although even that is barely taught in a lot of place, and often not at all), we get our education from porn. 

Except, porn is supposed to be fantasy. That’s what the bad acting is for. Real sex is almost never as smooth, easy and clean as porn sex. Real sex is awkward and has laughter and messes. And real sex is about everyone getting off however they get off. And anal is not always a part of that.

Even an anal-enjoyer such as myself doesn’t do butt stuff every single time I get laid, the way porn implies. I’d say it’s about half my sex life, honestly. I think of it not as the be-all-end-all of orgasms, or the “real thing” but as just another way to have sex – a kink. 

But for a kink, it does have a weirdly prominent place in queer culture, doesn’t it? Tops and Bottoms are things you click on dating apps, and there are weird associations with each one. But, look, if there’s someone in the Side-Closet reading this, you are 100% not alone.

Anal sex is a kink, and the reason some queer people treat it as the be-all end-all of gay sex is because they’re desperate to be more like straight people: penetration! Roles that conform to male and female! Come on. Aren’t we beyond that?

So I think the best way to make people in the side-closet come out is for all of us to treat anal like a kink. If you’re into anal, that’s awesome, but if you’re not, that’s awesome, too. Some people are into sexy vampire roleplay – I’m not one of them, but I’m not going to tell consenting folks to knock it off just because it doesn’t turn me on. 

Sex only works if everyone is turned on, after all. So if you’re not turned on by anal, that’s nothing to be ashamed of, and absolutely doesn’t make you less of a gay man, and anyone who tells you it does is being ridiculous. Same as if they told you not being into any other fetish made you less of a gay man.    

But honestly, the best way to deal with someone who tells you that if you’re not having anal, then you’ve somehow failed as a gay man? Don’t fuck ‘em. Simple as that. Cause there’s a lot of great, non-anal sex you can be having, and plenty of dudes out there who want to have it with you. Oral, frottage, hand-jobs, body surfing, taint pressure, nipple play. I can go on. 

I have personally enjoyed all these and more, so I can promise you that people who get off on this aren’t all sides, they just don’t want to limit their fun, and respect what turns you on.

So speak up, and find someone who cares just as much about your enjoying sexy time as they do about themselves.  Cause no one gets to tell you there’s a right way to have sex.  Anyone who tries shouldn’t be fucked by anyone. 

One small note though: Just cause you’re not having anal, doesn’t mean you don’t have to wrap it up.  There’s plenty of STIs that are contagious via oral and non-penetrative sex.  So get tested, go on PReP if you can, and play safe

If you've got a question about sex, relationships, or gay teenage life you'd like answering, email Jack at [email protected]*

Jack is a work of fiction created by L.C. Rosen, with neither of them holding qualifications as a therapist or physician. Therefore, he recommends visiting for further information and guidance.

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) will be released on eBook by Penguin on 30 October and in Paperback on 7 February 2019. You can follow author L.C. Rosen on Twitter and pre-order your copy here.