My weekly column at the Good Men Project came as the site focuses on gay men (in honor of Pride month.) My piece, Our Other Brothers: Gay and Straight Men as Friends, focuses on male friendship across the boundaries of sexual identity. Excerpt:
There seem to be two predictable obstacles to friendship between gay and straight men. First, of course, is the “sex thing.” Many straight guys worry that their gay friends are or might be sexually attracted to them. My friend Cole is straight, and often played basketball with a group of buddies, of whom two were gay. They changed and showered in the same locker room after their games. Cole often wondered how his gay buddies handled seeing so many naked men. “I know if I were in the women’s locker, seeing a lot of good-looking women naked, I’d be turned on. I figured it had to the same for gay guys, and the thought creeped me out.”
But as Cole found out when he finally asked, most gay men in our culture grow up surrounded by naked male bodies. They tend to learn to separate nudity from sexuality in a way that straight men don’t. (Ask anyone who grew up in a nudist family, and they’ll tell you the same thing.) Though some gay men are attracted to their straight friends, many aren’t. And those that are are usually very good at keeping that attraction boxed away so that it cannot hurt the friendship.
Gay men have their own fears about straight men. Boys who come out as gay—or are suspected of being gay—are often mercilessly tormented, with the worst of the abuse coming from heterosexual guys. Because American culture sets up masculinity and homosexuality as polar opposites, boys who want to prove their manhood must reject the “faggot” label and all that comes with it. That rejection often shows up in verbal and physical violence against anyone suspected of being gay.
Read the whole thing.