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 cliché 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 naïve’. 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.
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