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Top energy: what does it mean, how to attract or embody it in the streets and the sheets

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Jan 10, 2024

Top energy: what does it mean, how to attract or embody it in the streets and the sheets

It’s 2024, and you know what that means. New Year, new queer. It’s time to set your intentions and do the thing you promised yourself ages ago: get back on the old dating app horse. So you log onto HER and match with a total mega babe whose photo had your heart racing before you knew anything about them. There’s only one tiny problem. You notice in her profile it only says two words: top energy. What the hell does that mean?

If you’ve been on the internet or in queer circles for a minute, you might have heard the term floating around, but you might still have questions. What exactly is the meaning of top energy? How do you know if you are a top, bottom, or verse in queer sex? And is having top energy the same thing as being a top? Here is how to know if you’re attracted to top energy, how to harness your own top vibes, and of course, the celebrities and memes that epitomize the culture of top energy.

Top energy meaning 

Top energy is a vibe—which could also be described as BDE. Many people who have top energy might possess a swagger that makes you feel both safe and a little uneasy (in the best kind of way) when they walk into the room. Top energy is more about a feeling rather than a specific look. Sapphics, queers, and trans mascs who embody confidence, assertiveness, and that irresistible charm might be described as having “top energy.”

Top energy is basically just slang for someone who has that calm, cool, and collected way about them. You know, someone whose stare alone lets you know just how much they like to be in control. Conversely, bottom energy is when someone is giving you the vibe they’d prefer if you took hold of the wheel and steered the ship. Bottom energy is adorable, passive, and flirty in the simp emoji eye sort of way. 

Top energy is someone knowing exactly what you like and giving it to you before you’ve even asked—a form of mind reading of the highest order. Someone having top energy might mean that they make the first move, ask for your number, or order your drink for you. Whereas, someone with bottom energy might blush, let you take the lead, or lock eyes with you across the room until they look away, and you can’t help but move toward them. Bottom energy can be so magnetic and hypnotizing, that a top might think it was their idea all along.

Are you a top, bottom, or verse in queer sex?

While the terms top, bottom, and verse/switch have been used in the LGBTQIA+ community since the 1950s, many people these days are reclaiming the terms and giving them new life. For those of you who don’t know, here is a quick explainer of what it might mean to be a top, bottom, or verse during queer sex. 

To put it in the most basic of terms, a top describes someone who prefers to be in control during sex. A top is someone who takes an active role during sex which could look like strapping on, penetrating, pushing you up against the wall, or pinning you down to their 100% flax linen bed sheets. A stone top is someone who gives physical pleasure during sex but typically does not receive it. 

A bottom, on the other hand, is someone who prefers to relinquish control in the bedroom. They might enjoy the feeling of surrendering to their sexual partner and taking more of a passive role during sex. Pillow princesses like to prefer to receive more than they give whereas power bottoms and bratty bottoms like to top from the bottom and will generally have a more active and assertive way of bottoming. 

Some people aren’t strict tops or total bottoms but prefer to switch things up during sex—thus the term switch! A switch or a verse is someone who top and bottom interchangeably during sex. Verse people are less concerned with rigid sexual dynamics and prefer to take a more fluid approach to sex that can change from partner to partner. 

Top and bottom are better thought of as describing power dynamics rather than physical positions or the mechanics of the sex being had. And while the words “top” and “bottom” can absolutely be used as nouns, they are also just as useful as verbs. You might feel like more of a top with one sexual partner, but find yourself bottoming with someone else. Sex should feel empowering and liberating, not restrictive. If you find yourself stuck in one way of doing things, it might be time to switch it up. 

An Asian futch top with pigtails standing in a forest with a white and red ringer tee on and a snap back staring confidently into the camera.

How to top during sex?

If you want to know how to top during sex, the best thing to know is that there is no one way to top. I know this is the most annoying non-answer-answer, but it’s true! Everyone has different sexual preferences and desires, and the best part about being a top is listening to the needs of your partner. 

There is nothing worse than a top who simply equates topping with domination. Dominant, especially in a BDSM setup, can be hot, but being forceful without checking in on what your partners actually want isn’t cute. The best tops out there are the ones who are strong and brave enough to be in tune with their partner’s sexual boundaries and emotional needs while you’re hooking up.

Try not to compare yourself to other people or the things you may have heard about what makes a “good top.” Everyone has their own topping style that works for them. Some tops like to talk dirty while others spend hours just worshiping their bottom’s bottom. Take the time to communicate about what works for you and for your partner, and then do that. That’s how you top during sex.

How do you give off top vibes?

Top vibes are something that anyone can give off with a little practice. The most important thing to know about top vibes is that they are best received when they are authentic. Be yourself and back yourself. Having top energy is all about having that calm and collected self-assurance. Top vibes are all about being respectful, generous, caring, and protective of the ones you love and desire. 

Argerie, a 34-year-old queer femme from New Orleans, describes top energy as someone “carrying my grocery bags without me having to ask.” She says that being in a top “is all about focusing on someone else. You have to be able to hold their needs and pleasure are as important as yours. I love when someone is grounded and at peace with themselves while also being assertive. Nothing turns me on more or makes me feel more safe.” 

If someone has top energy, does this mean they are for sure a top?

Being a top is something that you self-identify as, whereas top energy is something that others perceive in you. So is it safe to say that everyone who gives off top energy is a top? Not quite! Let’s say you pick up some hot, power femme at the Cubbyhole who was giving the toppiest vibes in the room, only to take her home and find out that she is a total bottom in the bedroom. Just because someone is confident, extroverted, or gives top energy in social settings, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a top sexually. 

Some people in the LGBTQIA+ community might also equate gender-expression with top energy. True top energy transcends any binary categorization of gender expression or identity. Just because someone is masculine-presenting, doesn’t meant that they have top energy. Femmes can be tops and butches can bottom!  Anyone can give off top vibes, whether they are femme, butch, futch, or any combination of the three. We stan for hot tops of all gendered aesthetics. 

Remember to always chat about your sexual preferences with your dates and hookups, and don’t make assumptions about someone’s sex life or preferences based on how they look. Whether you are a strict top or you simply give top energy, just know that you get to define your identity and how you identify. Don’t ever let someone else tell you who you are or what you should be into.

Celebrities with big top energy

An image of Kate Moennig and Jennifer Beals playing Shane and Bette from the L Word Gen Q. They are holding hands on a brown leather couch.

Shane and Bette from the L Word

While Shane and Bette aren’t exactly a power couple, I can’t think of a better example of butch and femme top energy than these two. Bette is the kind of high-powered, career-driven, artistic and well-dressed power femme that makes you want to kneel down at her feet. And Shane is, well, Shane. Enough said. 


You don’t have to spend more than 5 minutes gawking at Kehlani’s IG to see exactly the type of energy that they bring to every occasion. She’s got the kind of erotic bossy femme top vibes that makes you want to watch her take longer than you to get ready, just so you can worship the process. 

Emma D’Arcy

Emma D’Arcy has given the gays the negroni sbagliatos (with prosseco in it) that we didn’t know we needed AND the shining example of casual top energy required to confidently order such an obscure and sexy drink. If they aren’t the definition of soft boy top energy, I don’t know who is. 

Tessa Thompson

If you are looking for top energy representation that is a bit more subtle, feast your eyes upon none other than Tessa Thompson. I still can’t quite decide is the sight of her sliding a popsicle into Janelle Monáe is giving top energy or power bottom vibes, but either way I am here for it. I’s say based on her understated confidence alone, she’s got big top energy in my book.

Cate Blanchett 

Cate Blanchett has long captured the hearts, minds and libidos of lesbians across the world with the top energy in several phenomenal queer roles in movies such as Tár and Carol. In fact, she’s played so many iconic lesbian roles that it’s easy to forget that she is not a lesbian. Either way, she can deffo top me any day. 

Gillian Anderson

This wouldn’t be a list of celebrities with top energy if we didn’t include the one and only de facto lesbian and resident mommy, Gillian Anderson. Gillian Anderson is responsible for thousands of gay awakenings from her roles in The X Files to Sex Education. She’s been summoning the queerness out of unsuspecting women for generations, and she couldn’t be more thrilled about it. This is the allyship we need more of in the world. 

Top energy and bottom energy memes

And speaking of memes, let me wrap this thing up by giving you what you’ve all been waiting for. Feel free to send these top energy memes to your crush, your bestie, or add them to your 2024 Toppy Vibes moodboard. Now go forth and give off that top energy that we’ve all been waiting for.

A meme from @bitchcraftery that exemplifies top energy. The meme features Kristen Stewart in Twilight saying “I know that it’s impossible, but I think I’m pregnant.” Above is written: when her strap game is too good.

Source: Reddit

A top energy meme that says “Everyone is always like ‘I have top energy’ or ‘I have bottom energy.’ Bitch I got no energy, I’m in bed all day. I’m depressed.

Source: IFunny

A meme from @sapphic.jam that shows a statue of the goddess of wild animals Artemis in a power stance that reads, “This statue of Artmetic proves that this particular type of lesbian energy has always existed.”

Source: Reddit

A tweet that reads: “If they stop typing when they see u typing they’re a bottom.” Another user responds “I just took 20 points of damage.”

Source: IFunny

A meme that shows a chart of different types of tops, switches, and bottoms. Lawful top: knows what they want, big dick/strap energy, will cook food after. Neutral top: spouse material, wines and dines you, will fuck you as soon as you get home. Chaotic top: way into dirty talk, keyboard smasher, wants to order pizza after. Lawful switch: sex toy hoarder, ‘making you cum is my job,’ secretly wants to bottom all the time. True switch: kinkier than you, low-key horny 24/7, aftercare monarch. Chaotic switch: brat 24/7, always flirty, might fall asleep during sex. Lawful bottom: desperate to please, will call you daddy/mommy, will cook food after, naked. Neutral bottom: just happy to be topped, very soft, will take nap after. Chaotic bottom: goblin, makes jokes during sex, demands candy after.

Source: X

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Dusty Brandt Howard is a writer & a fighter. He is a trans masculine cultural narrator who builds worlds with words. You can follow his thirst traps on Instagram, his writing on Substack, or find him at your local queer bar in northeast LA.

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