Opinion: Can gay and straight men ever truly be friends?
If you’ve got a penis and an internet connection, you’ll have watched porn. If you’ve got a penis, an internet connection, and a desire to see other penises, you’ll have watched ‘gay for pay’ porn. It’s a certainty; like death and taxes, or someone auditioning for the X Factor with a ‘dead relative’ sob story. Some sites are set up almost exclusively to show purportedly heterosexual men – either wittingly or unwittingly – getting hot and sweaty with other men for cash. Others only incidentally show straight guys, but usually make a large fanfare about the fact.
To be fair, a market exists for this because a lot of us do find straight men pretty damn hot. On some level it undoubtedly stems from school – whether it’s the slightly sadistic vindication fantasy against the rugby team captain who called you queer and pushed you into the lockers, or an unrequited desire for your best friend. It may be because you’re self-loathing and so refuse to have anything to do with gay culture; the stereotypical idea of a straight men is by definition the antithesis of it, so you fancy them. Whatever reason you have, I doubt there are many gay men out there who haven’t had a crush on an often completely oblivious straight bloke.
This is why I’m not convinced it’s possible for a single gay man and a straight man to be best friends without any agenda or sexual tension screwing things up.
Everyone’s familiar with the clichÃ© that straight men and women can’t be friends because they’ll end up in bed together, but most people will likely scoff at this statement nowadays. ‘Of course men and women can be friends without sex ruining things’, they’ll say, ‘Don’t be so naÃ¯ve’. Show me a healthy group of mixed-gender friends where no-one wants to sleep with anyone else, and I will show you a bunch of asexuals.
It’s worse with gay men and straight men, because at least if you’re a straight woman who fancies her straight male friend, you can hit on him and see where it goes; likewise when you fancy another homosexual. Perhaps I’m speaking wholly from my personal experience here, underestimating how restrained the rest of you are. However, it’s fairly unusual for gay men not to make things pretty sexual rather quickly with the men we fancy. Whether it’s a snog in the G-A-Y loos at 2AM, or DMing pictures of ourselves wearing only our underwear (or less), as gay men we tend to cut to the chase and make it clear what our game plan is. But what do you do with straight men? That kind of good clean fun doesn’t go down as well as you’d hope. Try doing that with the straight guy friend you fancy and the likelihood is you’ll be left looking at his dust trail.
This isn’t even necessarily about how they look, either – the straight men, I mean. From a gay man’s perspective, there are two boxes straight guys fit into: the ‘Boring Dickhead’ and the ‘Adorable Hottie’, but neither box is a lifetime guarantee. The same guy can be shifted between them with regularity – and interestingly, neither one of them appears to be dependent on the subject’s physical attractiveness.
Think about the number of times you’ve met a heterosexual guy who has made your heart skip a beat with a flex of his pecs and a smouldering gaze, only to ruin everything by revealing he has the intelligence of a box of hair. You’d still consider sticking it in him, but once you were done, he’d need to get out before he died from forgetting how to breathe. He goes in the ‘Boring Dickhead’ box. Conversely, how many straight men have you completely overlooked initially, only to get to know them and realise that actually, they’re everything you’ve ever wanted in a boyfriend: friendly, kind, and just the right level of shyness – not to mention they’ve never had sex with any of your slutty mates. They are the ‘Adorable Hottie’.
Of course, with the ‘Boring Dickhead’, you don’t start making friends with them. Their various unattractive personality traits – whether an inability to hold a decent conversation without mentioning how much of a ‘player’ they are, or them being horrendously and outspokenly anti-Semitic – outweigh any positive ones, making it impossible to achieve anything greater than tight-lipped tolerance of them to start with. To be moved out of that box, they need to vastly alter their personalities or you have to develop some major blind spots for their less pleasant quirks.
When you have an ‘Adorable Hottie’ on your hands, though, it’s much more dangerous. To start off with, you probably won’t even realise you think of him any differently; he’s just another mate. If anything, it’s more refreshing going for a casual pint with him because you don’t have to deal with any of the drama of the gay scene. Your chats are honest and upfront, and you feel comfortable with him because you know there’s no agenda. He’s never had a male friend he can talk to this openly, so you get to hear about all the stuff he’d never dream of telling his straight mates, or his girlfriend. You are neither a target for his affections, nor are you competition for the women he fancies, so he doesn’t have to worry about discussing his own vulnerabilities. Maybe you’ll even jokily flirt, just to draw attention to how ridiculous the concept of you two as anything other than mates really is.
Problem is, if he doesn’t say something stupid, thus relegating himself into the ‘Boring Dickhead’ box, you’re going to keep hanging out with this guy you feel incredibly comfortable with. The same guy who makes you laugh, who shows you sides of him you know you’re one of the only people to see, and you’re going to start thinking, ‘I like feeling like this’. You begin to muse on why you don’t ever meet any gay guys who you get on this well with. Then comes the clincher, and the start of the countdown to the death of your friendship: ‘I wonder if he’s being this friendly because he likes me like that…?’
The minute this crosses your mind, it’s over. You can drag it out for as long as you like, but realistically there are only a few ways this can go, and none of them end well. You can try and find a way to stop fancying him – convincing yourself he’s a dickhead or avoiding him entirely, for example – but these are stopgap measures at best. One way or another, he will become aware that you’re metaphorically or literally doodling his name into your notepad, and that’ll be it.
Personally, I’m a fan of the slow reveal. It took one straight guy until our fourth date – dinner, cinema, everything – before he finally realised that to me, they were in fact dates. A more traditional but no less awkward method is the ‘drunken confession’, or the other alcohol-driven method, drunkenly hitting on them. The passive-aggressive amongst you may enjoy the territorial response: being so bitchy and unpleasant towards anyone else they date that they eventually figure out you’re a possessive, crazy person. Whichever method of nailing your unrequited love to the flagpole you choose, it’s going to end your friendship.
Then again, I might just have been doing it wrong. Maybe, if you’re mature, you can sit them down and explain how you feel, acknowledging their heterosexuality and confirming nothing could ever happen, allowing you to salvage some kind of relationship. Maybe that level of honesty can even strengthen your friendship. Just – and take it from me here – try and do that before you’ve spent £140 on a guy who doesn’t know you’re dating.
Featured image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Healthy gay men fantasize about men period! Most do not cross the line with their straight friends. Just like most who do not fantasize about their siblings. If a straight guy is paranoid of getting sexual attention from gay men, it's most likely he is sexually insecure to begin with. That's a personal issue that's got nothing to do with gay men.
@sallystokes24 @bradcrogers I'm not but Brad & Boy George are,i've seen them mincing around the place LOL
@BoyGeorge absolutely true. i think the straght guy remains just a tiny bit cautious though in my experience.. but thats ok i am a slag! x
@SoSoGay @Baxfail @BoyGeorge Gosh this kind of story depresses the hell out of me. Full of stereotyping & generalisations. Lazy journalism.
@SoSoGay I struggled with @BaxFail's two menu options for straight men: Adorable Hottie / Boring Dickhead. My straight friends are neither.
@BoyGeorge This is a load of tripe, and doesn't even hit the ironic target with humour as it's not even funny. I had to put my oppinion
@BoyGeorge Absolutely yes !! Life would be pretty dull if all your friends were cast from the same mould.
I hope this article is a stab at irony, firstly, not all gay men fantasize about straight men, It may be common, but it's not universal, I have never found men who exude heterosexuality and masculinity attractive, on the contrary, I have always been drawn to either slightly effeminate men, or masculine men with an obviously gay presence, The idea of going on a date with a man who looked and acted straight, was perhaps in the closet, turns me right off, I want someone who can join in my lifestyle and understands my free spirit, and also my past, what iv'e dealt with as a teenager. The idea that all gay men secretly desired the bullys in school who tormented them seems ridiculous to me too, I think of the people who made my life hard in school as degenerate scum. I have straight male friends, who mostly tend to be the boyfriends of my female friends, It works because they love my sense of humor, my jokes and my stories but they could never be my type, and perhaps that's what keeps them in my social circle . I am only drawn towards openly gay men. The conclusion your article draws is that gay men are all sexually charged animals who all have very little dignity and morals and will shag anything with a pair of testicles, which in a way, re-enforces the same negative and untrue view that a lot of society, sadly, still blankets over every homosexual, that we are all the same, that we are all promiscuous creatures who freely distribute our seed with little morals and consequences. Being gay is not a society or a club, we are not all the same, we are not interested in the same types of men and we do not all court the same ways of attaining sexual fulfillment, I honestly hope this article was purely intended as a bit of dry tongue -in-cheek humor and not a sincerer view on sexuality, although to be honest, it isn't really that funny or relateable either.
@BoyGeorge There's no reason we all can't be who we want or love who we want. I am a hetero woman - see? Even I'm guilty of it - labels!
@BoyGeorge I fwd ROVELA to you for a laugh -did u enjoy it ?? -- adam lambert & russel brand & rove McManus & Christine (??)
@BoyGeorge it remind me this popular and silly question: can a boy & a girl being only truly friends? I think of course some people think no
@BoyGeorge of course they can be friends. Only narrow minded bigots would think otherwise! Some people are so narrow minded.
@BoyGeorge HELLO GEORGE!!! FROM CHILE WITH LOVE! I STILL REMEMBER WHEN I SAW YOU HERE!!! Love!!! ❤❤❤❤❤
Very enjoyable reading by a funny man; as the English say "with the tongue firmly between the cheeks". Also, and I know this may be contentious as Mr Baxandall has an English degree (I've e-stalked), but in the last paragraph is it not more appropriate to use the adverbial form 'wrongly'? Obviously, I only mention it because there has to be an irrelevant pedantic comment on the bottom half of the internet or everything implodes.
I have a vast range of straight males in my life, from my rugby-playing best friend of 20 years, who I've had a completely platonic relationship with since birth, to a brilliantly metro sexual friend of a friend who pulls girls while dancing away to Britney in G-A-Y. Sadly, and jarringly, your article seems to hold the same views as many of the homophobic bullies I remember from school - that gay men are incapable of controlling themselves sexually, and are attracted to every male they encounter. I wish you had a little more imagination.
@SoSoGay @Baxfail playing devil's advocate eh?!? people are far from stereotype painted and friendship is not based around sexuality.
@liamwaterloo @sosogay @baxfail This young man really has a way with words. Unfortunately those words are complete crap.
@Will_Hoe It's written from one perspective only, his. It's like assuming that every man wants to sleep with every woman or vice versa.
@SoSoGay @baxfail I've honestly never read anything more moronic and incorrect. I'm surprised at you.
@SoSoGay @baxfail If straight men could actually be defined into ‘Boring Dickhead’ and ‘Adorable Hottie’ groups, this would be spot on.
this is the old 'when harry met sally' proposition that men and women can't really be friends. Interesting, a little bit true, but not really. Nothing to do with being gay, more about being horny.
@liamwaterloo How come when I click ‘other articles by’ it doesn’t come up with the one about open relationships too?
Maybe this author just needs to grow up a bit. I find it almost offensive that he seems to think that all gay men are so emotionally immature that we can't help staring at a straight boy without imagining something that just isn't there and never will be.