For many men who date men, chats on dating apps usually start with a particularly important question: Are you a top or bottom? Sex roles are often the base of relationships between men, and verifying who’s pitching and catching is critical. Sure, some fellas are versatile and enjoy giving or receiving equally, but for those who prefer a position, your sex role could be a deal breaker.
Recently, researchers in Canada found that there’s a biological element that decides whether a queer man tops or bottoms. The University of Toronto conducted two studies and discovered fascinating similarities among men who have sex with men. In 2015, the researchers talked to 240 men at Toronto Pride. The participants took a survey that asked about their sex-position preferences as well as questions around their physical and character traits and their families.
VanderLaan, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, told Jezebel’s Rick Juziak, “What’s interesting about this work is even among a group of individuals who are pretty similar in terms of their sexual preference — that is, gay men preferring men — there could be a diverse set of processes that lead them to exhibit that same sexual orientation outcome.”
The study found that men who bottom are more likely to be non-right-handed and gender-nonconforming, and have more older brothers than men who top. According to VanderLaan, the handedness question proved to be a particularly useful in the study.
“One thing about handedness is we know it’s related to brain organization and we know that it takes place really early. People very early in life — infants and children — will show hand preference for activities. That’s what makes handedness such a valuable marker is that it tells us about a particular developmental window,” VanderLaan explained.
Although the findings are captivating, the team doesn’t expect concrete evidence linking sex roles to biological traits. Instead, they’re focused on finding “biomarkers” that help clarify the decision-making process and complex identity formation.
“Sex role identity development is a complex process that unfolds over decades, so the idea that some early life developmental experience that happened in the womb has a direct impact on someone’s sex-role behavior decades later,” VanderLaan continued, “that seems potentially a little too simplistic, and we certainly don’t have demonstrative evidence that that sort of scenario is indeed the case.”
To learn more about the findings of this study, head over to Jezebel.