While I applaud you for having the guts to write openly and while I respect your thoughtful perspective, I find the topic personally puzzling … and all the more interesting for that!
I don’t identify as either a bottom or a top, and that’s not for any political or ideological reason; it’s just because I don’t tick like that.
I have struggled with self loathing and masculinity issues. I’ve taken a hard road that finally let me toss a lot of gender ideas into the trash where (I believe) they belong.
None of that was easy, and all of it took time.
But all throughout that time, I switched it up in bed without even thinking about it.
When I was young, I had a lot of sex with lots of partners. I just liked sex, the wet hot physical intimacy of it. The connection and electricity of it.
Topping, bottoming, power bottoming, or sticking to oral or frottage — I didn’t much care what form of expression sex took.
Some of my lovers were effeminate tops, some were butch bottoms, and others were more traditional (in the gay sense of traditional).
And all through a smorgasbord of diverse sex, I never connected the gender expression struggles in my head with what I did in bed.
I don’t know if that makes me an outlier or not. Your own journey is familiar to me in the sense that some of my friends have told similar (ish) stories.
I’ll certainly admit it’s common among some gay men to tie sexual expression to gender expression.
I’d be interested in seeing some quantitative analysis on the question some day if an ambitious PhD student needed a topic.
In any case, thanks for a thoughtful essay and an opportunity to ramble.