A virus killed a generation of gay forebears, leaving men in my age bracket with few role models. I’ve met many men of a certain age with AIDS survivor’s guilt who can’t talk about what they used to know, what I still need to know. But if you can sit down and talk with someone many years your senior, do it. They’ll give you better advice than I’ll ever be able to give on how to be a cocksucker and what our many words and labels mean.
There’s a lot. The list below is wholly inadequate, but it’s a start.
Top: Obvious. The dominant (inserting) sex partner.
Bottom: Passive sexual partner. Catcher.
Bear: Hairier, heavier (muscular or chubby) gay man. Must have a beard.
Bear Chaser: A gay man who’s into bears.
Cub: A young bear.
Otter: Typically slimmer, less hairy version of a cub. Often have buzzed heads.
Pup/Puppy: A term often associated with BDSM. A typically slimmer, younger person of any gender identity/sexual orientation who likes being taken care of/manhandled by “handlers” in the role play fetish scene/lifestyle of puppy play. Read my post about pup play.
Pig/Piggy: Any gay man who prefers and recreationally enjoys bareback sex, cum (semen), and more extreme forms of sex (bondage, BDSM, piss play, fisting, and so on).
Poz: HIV-positive gay men that are open about their HIV status.
Daddy: An older, financially established gay man.
Daddy Chaser: A gay man who pursues daddies.
Twink: A typically younger, thinner gay man with little or no body hair.
Fairy: Like a twink, but typically more feminine.
Faerie: Slightly different spelling to denote a fan/practitioner/disciple of the radical faerie movement and mentality.
Queen: Dance floor diva, sass and attitude. Every gay man is queen deep down.
Drag queen/king: Go watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. An artist who performs in drag.
Discreet: A gay man who is in the closet, on the DL, or moderately private about his sexuality.
Leather: The community of gay men who have a fondness for leather gear/fetish play, including BDSM, roleplaying and dominant/submissive scenarios.
Chub: Bigger guys.
Jock: Athletic guys.
Sir: The most common, widely known dominant role in kink and BDSM.
Boy: The most common, widely-known submissive role in kink and BDSM.
BDSM: An acronym that stands for bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism.
Queer: A former slur, “queer” has been reclaimed as an intentionally vague word that resists easy definition, one that rejects the hard parameters of “gay,” “straight,” and “bisexual” along with the gender binary as a harmful social construct. People who use this word label believe in a fluidity of orientation, gender, and expression, and they believe such fluidity is healthy and vital to the community.
There are many, many more, but that should get you started.
I know the labels I fall into. Even if I try to reject them, men classify me into my respective categories the minute I walk into a gay club.
Trying to deny our labels or live outside of them is like trying to deny the weather — it will happen regardless.
It’s important to acknowledge the labels and accept that they are entrenched in gay culture (and gay stereotypes). It’s also important to not care too much about them, because whatever category or categories you put yourself into will never be adequate at describing the sum total of who you are. They do not include your richness or complexity. They do not summarize your personhood. They simply exist, thrown on you (and all of us) like secondhand clothes. They may be ill-fitting, but they sure can be fun sometimes.