Who proposes whom in gay relationships

Change of position: a or p?

"Active or passive?" - What a question. However, this question arises with gay men who want to have anal intercourse. The person who fucks is generally referred to as "active" and the person who is fucked as "passive" - ​​and basically every man has both options. is the question that is asked in the leading article of the current issue of Sergej, a gay Berlin city magazine. So, in other words: why is a man (primarily) passive or active?

Not an uninteresting question in itself. The author of this article tries to find an answer with the help of theses by Richard C. Friedmann, Sigmund Freud, Ferenczi and Socarides - and fails. Mainly because he presents these theses as statements of psychology (par excellence), colorfully combined and not questioned.

So that this does not remain an unfounded claim on my part, here is a detailed review of the leading article and the theses presented in it:

THESIS 1: "All homosexuals [share] a central childhood experience":

Namely: They feel more unmanly than other boys of the same age. They avoid playful aggressiveness such as scuffling, have less esteem with other boys and cannot compensate for this with a positive relationship with older male authority figures. Furthermore, they identify more easily with their mother and suffer from the absence of one strong father figure. This, so the argument goes, is later compensated for by homosexual contact with other men.

If you read this, you could almost believe that it is a reproduction of clichées: the unmanly homosexual. The author actually seems to mean exactly that, at least these theses of "psychology" are not questioned, least of all justified. And that there are enough counterexamples is not of interest. There is, for example, the gay player who plays football with many (male) friends or the sensitive heterosexual who grew up with a single mother and is still not gay. The fact that both genetic researchers and psychologists continue to argue about the cause of homosexuality disputes is also ignored. But not enough of the clichées: It follows:

THESIS 2: "While the [passive] partner has a stronger need to supplement his deficient masculinity, the [active] partner seems to be controlled by stronger aggressions and the need to reduce them."

So now to the description of the sexual roles. Because if you are allowed to believe in the author, there are clear fronts: The active man not only fucks, he is also masculine, dominant, "straight actor" (i.e. looking straight), maybe even older, hairy and dark-haired. The passive man, on the other hand, lets himself be fucked, subjugated and taken "in more than just a physical sense". And maybe he's younger, hairless, and blonde. Active men suffer from an excess of aggressiveness, which they seek to compensate by exercising power over other men (= fucking). Passive men, on the other hand, suffer from a deficient lack of masculinity, which they try to compensate by "taking in a part of their body".

Whereby these dividing lines cannot be seen absolutely, but always relative: So the relatively more masculine partner fucks the relatively less masculine partner. For example, if a man who is more active in himself meets an even more masculine man who has a larger genitals, for example, he will bend down for him.

The author paints a picture of anal intercourse as a pure balance of power; for example, he describes the submission of an active man to an older man as self-punishment.

These cliché images are by no means new, but hardly contemporary let alone justifiable. It is certainly correct that in a clearly chauvinist-macho society, penetration can be seen as the exercise of power by men against women, thus as being from male-dominant-active people against unmanly-subject; however, at least since the emancipation movement, such simple power schemes have not even been used in heterosexual relationships applicable (just think about the fact that women today have the freedom to choose their sexual partners themselves, that is, they are actively involved in who penetrates them), let alone homosexuals.

The image drawn of active and passive gays completely suppresses the fact that roles are reversed in homosexual relationships. The fact that active people only fuck to reduce aggression and passive people to compensate for obsolete and outdated ideals of masculinity seems particularly absurd. In addition to the power component (which admittedly is more or less present in all social actions), sexuality has above all a social component, serves to strengthen, stabilize and form social bonds.

The author is simply subject to an outdated, sexist image of society and the reduction of sexuality to the exercise of power, which is probably simply wrong from a psychological point of view - from which it is argued here.

Last but surely not least:

THESIS 3: "Aggression played an essential role in homosexual relationships."

The author derives this thesis as follows:
The passive tries to compensate for his masculinity deficit by absorbing body parts of the active (see thesis 2). And now the article should be quoted verbatim: "In Rothenburg, as is well known, it even went so far that the genitals of the other was eaten. The latter underlines the observation that homosexual manners show a degree of ruthlessness, cold feelings and aggression."

Apart from the fact that the designation of the cannibalistic incidents in Rothenburg as "homosexual manners" - to put it mildly - is problematic, the conclusion that homosexual relationships are emotionally cold, untenable and completely ignoring social reality. Apart from the fact that no general knowledge can be derived from individual examples - how should something like a long-term relationship based on "ruthlessness, cold feeling and aggression", which is by no means unusual for gays, be built? Why should gay people be like that? And what does being gay have to do with cannibalism?


God knows nothing speaks against presenting and discussing such theses written by psychologists. But here, as I said at the beginning, lies the point: such generalizing claims must be questioned. Especially since they by no means depict today's reality, at most anachronistic clichées. The reduction of homosexual individuals to active / passive may be common in darkrooms, but in daylight at the latest it turns out to be absurd.
But the most amazing thing is that such a homophobic article appears in a gay magazine of all places.

You can find the article reviewed here in Sergej, a gay city magazine from Berlin, issue 11/2005, under the title "Position change: A or P", under the heading "Society" on page 24ff. Quoted portions of this review are quotations from the article.