There’s Nothing Gay About Two Dudes Being Intimate

A while back when one of the Captain America movies that came out recently was first coming out, I saw people lamenting that Captain America and his sidekick (?) were not explicitly made a gay couple, even though they were portrayed as very close friends.*  This is a culturally progressive mindset, that any close male friendships portrayed in the media ought to actually be homosexual relationships.  But I find that to be quite, to borrow one of their favorite words, problematic.

I assume I view relationships in an unorthodox manner.  I’m not really sure why; I’m 24 and I’ve never been exposed to anything other than the “mainstream” relationship paradigm.  And yet, I don’t like it and I don’t fit in within it.  What I see the “mainstream” relationship paradigm as is basically the following: all romantic relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are essentially the same.  And all friendships, whether between two men, two women, or a man and a woman, are essentially the same as well.  Of course, there are minor differences in the actual dynamics of those relationships, but they’re fundamentally the same.  But why?

I think a major reason for that is the idea of “gender equality,” which may result in thinking of men and women as basically the same (when not thinking of them sexually).  I strongly support gender equality and not discriminating between men and women when there is no good reason to, but they’re not the same.  Generally speaking, men and women can be very different, especially socially.  That doesn’t mean men are inherently superior to women, or vice versa, but they’re not the same.  Furthermore, gay men are not necessarily more similar to women than they are to straight men.  I’m sure that’s true in some cases (and I’m sure there are also straight men who are more similar to women), but in general, it’s not the case.  I have little experience with lesbians, but I assume they are also more similar to straight women than they are to men.  Anyway, gay men, just like straight men, produce testosterone (in much higher levels than women).  Testosterone is perhaps what primarily gives men their maleness, or the behavioural characteristics that are generally associated with men and not women (there are probably other things as well, maybe even something as fundamental as brain structure or even DNA.  Obviously, “maleness” as a biological concept is determined by chromosomes, but according to Wikipedia, the Y chromosome “codes for the production of larger amounts of testosterone to develop male reproductive organs“).

Most gay relationships in the media are portrayed as being similar to heterosexual relationships, in that one guy is “the man” (i.e., the butch one, or the “top”) and the other is “the woman” (i.e. the femme one, or the “bottom”).  Which is probably true in some cases, but probably not most.  But how accurate the portrayal is doesn’t really matter; what matters is the portrayal, because it reinforces the paradigm.  Even in gay relationships that aren’t like that, they are thought of (by most people) as essentially the same as straight relationships in that the dynamics between the two partners are essentially the same: a romantic relationship is a romantic relationship.  But I don’t really think that is the case, or at least it’s not what I want in a relationship.  I look at my dad’s relationship with his wife, and the dynamic between the two of them, and it’s just not appealing to me.  That’s why I’m not big on the idea of gay marriage (at least not for myself); gay couples likely model their relationships on heterosexual relationships, but outside the context of cultural paradigms, I’m not convinced they would.

I might describe myself as an “androphile” (minus any white supremacist connotations that term may have), because I love the concept of “maleness” (or masculinity, if you want).  Not only is it what I seek in a partner, but it’s also something I strive for for myself.**  “Femaleness” is fine too, but it’s not what I’m into.  As such, any relationship between two men, whether platonic or romantic, would probably be fundamentally different from any relationship between men and women, minus that social context (if you look at other cultures that don’t have the same relationship paradigms, that seems to be the case (see here)).  What I want in a relationship is basically a highly intimate bond with another man, something that is often seen, in a platonic sense, throughout history and in other cultures (only what I want is maybe slightly more romantic).

We don’t really have those any more in Western culture.  If two men are that close, it’s seen as gay.  I remember seeing an old movie clip on Cracked that claimed to show the first gay kiss, which supposedly happened back before movies were filmed in color.  But, as was pointed out by commenters (I always read Cracked’s comments.  Unlike most comment sections, it’s usually insightful and reasonable), that scene was not portraying a gay kiss: it was simply between two very close male friends (I can’t remember the name of that particular article, nor do I know what the movie is called).  Take a look at this and see how gay all those guys in the old photos look.  But it’s the same thing there: they’re not gay couples, they’re just close male friends.  In that same comment section, I encountered the concept of a romantic friendship, something which has died out for the most part.  It described a non-sexual friendship characterized by both physical and emotional closeness.

Obviously, I and the man with whom I share the “highly intimate bond” would be a gay couple.  But that extra sexual element that may exist doesn’t really change things.  To be completely honest, “gay sex” doesn’t really appeal to me, but we would surely do stuff that two straight male friends probably wouldn’t be completely comfortable doing with each other.  Still, any kind of physical intimacy between two men, whether it be a bro-hug or full-on anal sex, is all fundamentally the same: it’s just a matter of degree.  On the other hand, sex between a man and a woman is a biological imperative.  There’s the possibility of the creation of life when men and women do it.  Male and female sexual organs are “designed” to fit together.  And it’s an intimacy between two fundamentally distinct kinds of people (i.e. men and women).

As for sexual attraction, who’s to say straight guys, absent cultural context, wouldn’t find something appealing about other guys’ dicks?***  This is just anecdotal, but a gay guy I know claims that he is often propositioned by “curious” straight guys.  Even if it’s not actually the case that straight guys have some small degree of either sexual attraction to or even aesthetic appreciation for dicks, or any part of the male body for that matter, sexual attraction doesn’t really change things.  Anecdotally (again), most straight guys just don’t seem to care that much.  I always hear that from people on sports teams and in the military, and there’s also this article that I’ve seen floating around lately.  As I said before, gay men are simply more similar to straight men than they are to women, similar enough that the homosexuality doesn’t seem to hinder the comeraderie between them.  In a lot of cases, there wouldn’t be any difference whatsoever between the gay guys and the straight guys, other than the fact that the gay guys are into dicks and the straight guys aren’t.  Gay guys have been secretly serving in the military likely since militaries started existing, and there must be at least one gay guy currently playing in North American major league sports without being all dramatic about it.

If physical intimacy between men is simply a matter of degree, and straight men are perfectly capable of camaraderie with gay men, the corollary is that nothing two men do with each other is necessarily “gay.”  That is, whatever they do doesn’t necessarily imply the two men are gay.  Not even anal sex, which is not exclusive to gay or bisexual men, nor is it universal among gay men.  I’m sure there’s something to the stereotype that it’s common where there are no women available, such as prisons or Navy vessels.  Sure, it’s fulfilling a certain desire that’s there whether or not there are women around, but so is platonic physical affection between two straight men.  Otherwise, why would that be so common in the olden days?  The bond shared between two men, who are more compatible with each other than a man is with a woman, is capable of being even stronger than the bond a man shares with his wife, so it makes sense that there would be some kind of physical aspect of that bond.  It really is a shame how little importance is placed on close male friendships, and how a limit is placed on how close they are allowed to be without being “gay,” because all men who care about their maleness should have something like that in their life.  I think we all desire it on some level.

NOTE: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with guys having female friends or anything like that.  I have a close female friend myself, not to mention my sister, who I’m also very close with.  But, due to how different we are, there’s a limit to how close we can actually get.  A male friendship, even if entirely platonic and non-physical, would fulfil a different need.  I’m sure there are men who don’t have such a limit with their female friends, but I suspect they are in the minority.

*I apologize for my lack of precision in this sentence.  Frankly, the world of comic books and superheroes is completely foreign to me and I have no interest in it whatsoever.  Hopefully, what I’m trying to say here is clear enough.

**There are arguments to be made as for objective definitions for what constitutes “maleness” as a behavioural pattern (I’m not talking about biological maleness here), but I think the details are ultimately subjective.  Most people probably wouldn’t dispute that a guy who spends 8 hours a day in the gym is quite masculine, but I would because that just seems vain to me.  It’s one thing to be strong in a utilitarian sense, but it’s another thing to be completely obsessed with your physique.  So when I say I strive for “maleness” in myself, I’m not saying I want to be able to bench-press the Empire State Building.  It’s more of a set of character traits, which, lamentably, tend not to be fashionable at the moment.

***I read Cracked a lot, which is famous for its “dick jokes.”  The word “dick” comes up a lot.  It’s gotten to the point where the word “penis” seems overly clinical to me.

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1 Comment

  1. I never thought I could know so much about something I don’t think about. You have a special talent for fleshing things out. Thanks as always…

    Liked by 1 person

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