One of my oldest friends from junior high is named Bradley. Together, we ruled the hallways of both junior high and high school. I had a huge crush on him, but of course it would never work out because I was secretly gay and he was very obviously straight. I thought he would completely disown me if he ever knew but much to my surprise when I finally came out to him in college, it actually brought us closer together.
One night, Bradley and I were driving to the movies when at a red light he looked over to me with sincere loving eyes. “Jerry,” he said. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I love you. Like I really love you.” I knew what he meant, of course. I wasn’t naïve to think he was in love with me; he loved me as a friend and as a person. I told him I loved him back. We hugged, we embraced, and it was then I knew what love was. Unfortunately for the vast majority of the world, seeing a straight guy saying “I love you” to a gay guy who isn’t a family member is like waiting for a pig to grow wings.
Can a straight guy and gay guy have a strictly platonic relationship with just as much passion and love as any other relationship? I’m living proof that they can. The world isn’t short of these kinds of relationships, but because we hardly ever see them in the media or around the community in heavy numbers, it’s easy to distance ourselves from it. Straight guys often think that we want to sleep with them, while gay guys are often paranoid that straight guys will get uncomfortable around them (and who the hell wants to deal with that?). The result is a big old bag of misunderstandings and assumptions.
I think everyone can benefit from this type of relationship. Like with straight women, straight guys can also have a place to vent. While we listen to their problems, they can listen to ours; and in the meantime, both of us can learn from each other.
Orientation aside, men benefit from having friendships with other men. There’s a sense of brotherhood that is ingrained inside our DNA, much of which is hard to place our finger on. When we’re around other guys, we leave much more room for intuitive language – a language we know ourselves. This can ease our nerves in many ways, henceforth, creating a closer bond. Guys can be the best of friends should we choose to, but society has tricked us into thinking we all have to compete with each other. Personally, I don’t think anyone benefits from this kind of thinking.
Straight and gay men have played nice together for years, but decades worth of brainwashing have turned us into finger-pointing accusers. I know plenty of gay guys who don’t trust straight men, and vice versa. They’re “homophobic until proven otherwise” in many ways, but the thing is we’re on the horizon of 2015. If you think about it, during the ‘80s everyone expected us to be living on the moon by now. But if you ask me, what we’ve gained instead is much more powerful. Equal rights have expanded more than we ever thought possible in this short time, and with that came a shared acknowledgment – a straight and queer alliance.
In recent years, journalists have talked about a theory called the “Feminization of America” within the last decade, i.e. the rapid boost of men becoming more supportive with each other in showing their emotions. Because the general attitude of late has been to feel rather than judge, relationships have been forming from all sides of the spectrum. I think great friendships are hard to find and if you find it in a man of a different orientation, who the f*ck cares!