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Opinion: Can gay and straight men ever truly be friends?

The old adage says men & women can’t be friends without it becoming sexual, but do gay & straight men suffer a similar problem? Danny Baxandall believes so.

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.

Featured image courtesy of photostock /




  1. AlexJCall

    19 Sep 2012 at 07:31

    @elliot_jr I’ve got loads of straight mates. I want to sleep with only a small handful of them…

    • elliot_jr

      19 Sep 2012 at 08:42

      @AlexJCall indeed.

  2. stuartkp

    19 Sep 2012 at 07:59

    @Baxfail @sosogay I don’t want to sleep with any of my straight mates, they’re too nice! I like a shove-you-against-the-lockers bad boy. 😉

  3. thexaxix

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:02

    @Baxfail @SoSoGay you make an engaging case. Not to say I agree with it, though.

    • Baxfail

      19 Sep 2012 at 08:04

      @thexaxix You never agree with me. I think you do it just to turn me on.

      • thexaxix

        19 Sep 2012 at 08:05

        @Baxfail The inference throughout is that a gay man will inevitably be attracted to his straight male friends. Which is patently not true.

        • Baxfail

          19 Sep 2012 at 08:10

          @thexaxix It’s not been true in my observations of myself and gay men I have met. I have met a lot of indiscriminate sluts, though.

        • thexaxix

          19 Sep 2012 at 08:11

          @Baxfail Are you putting yourself and ‘the gays’ in different boxes? I don’t understand.

        • Baxfail

          19 Sep 2012 at 08:12

          @thexaxix Sorry, I meant to have ‘other’ in between ‘and’ and ‘gay’.

        • thexaxix

          19 Sep 2012 at 08:18

          @Baxfail Let’s not assume everyone is as incapable of a meaningful friendship without motive, then.

  4. divejunkie86

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:04

    @Baxfail your things amuse me. Write more. Like, now please!

    • Baxfail

      19 Sep 2012 at 08:11

      @divejunkie86 Yes dear.

  5. stefanroberts

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:08

    @Baxfail @sosogay well I think it’s balls, but it’s nicely written!

  6. owenblacker

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:15

    @Baxfail Does it involve you faking an orgasm in a restaurant? :-p

    • Baxfail

      19 Sep 2012 at 08:19

      @owenblacker No, but remind me to tell you that story one day.

      • owenblacker

        19 Sep 2012 at 08:52

        @Baxfail ;-p

  7. ALGonsalves

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:27

    @Baxfail @sosogay I’m not sure I agree with all your points, but it’s well-written and bloody entertaining. Well done.

  8. Cellism

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:33

    @Baxfail @sosogay Loved it. Good to know SSG isn’t a total car crash 😛

    • caspararemi

      19 Sep 2012 at 09:15

      @Cellism Oi.

      • Cellism

        19 Sep 2012 at 09:23

        @caspararemi Realistically, we’ve discussed this before. Content strategy, copy editing, tone. It’s all a bit hit and miss.

      • Cellism

        19 Sep 2012 at 09:23

        @caspararemi Not that my website is anywhere near perfect but SSG has some major problems as of my last reading.

        • caspararemi

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:24

          @Cellism we’re volunteer run entirely. Offer up some of your time! :)

        • Cellism

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:27

          @caspararemi I’m voluntarily running an entire website 😛 I’m currently sorted!

        • Sam_Lux

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:31

          @Cellism @caspararemi girls this isn’t the playground.

        • liamwaterloo

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:31

          @Cellism @caspararemi I second the ‘oi’. I give up so much of my free time* for SSG. (*during work, not actual free time).

        • caspararemi

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:32

          @Sam_Lux @Cellism we’re not fighting!

        • Sam_Lux

          19 Sep 2012 at 09:34

          @caspararemi @cellism but you are being BORING xxxxxx

  9. andybakerwriter

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:37

    @liamwaterloo @sosogay what a silly article. I suggest the author get better friends and get over themselves.

  10. thebarryh

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:37

    @liamwaterloo @sosogay this isn’t about dating or friendship, it reads like stalking a guy hoping for a sympathy bone, ridiculous.

  11. LukiKnowsBest

    19 Sep 2012 at 08:38

    @Baxfail hmm lol

  12. owenblacker

    19 Sep 2012 at 09:02

    @Baxfail You have no author biography. How can this be? (Personally, I find chatting so they become not a sex object helps, but good piece.)

  13. MagicMichaelXXX

    19 Sep 2012 at 09:03

    @SoSoGay @baxfail of course I have man straight mates

  14. nightynouse

    19 Sep 2012 at 09:10

    @SoSoGay @baxfail What a load of tosh! I have a lot of straight male friends, some who’ve been very close platonic mates for 15 years!

  15. ChipsforthePoor

    19 Sep 2012 at 09:31

    @SoSoGay Yeh, just don’t stick to your own patch for drinkie poos.

  16. gapboy

    19 Sep 2012 at 09:41

    @SoSoGay @baxfail ha ha ha funny this article though it is total bollocks. Sure it may apply to some but definitely not me. Good read tho x

  17. HassanMamdani

    19 Sep 2012 at 11:06

    @liamwaterloo questions like this only exist inside the gay bubble.

    • liamwaterloo

      19 Sep 2012 at 11:07

      @HassanMamdani Yes. Sorry…I think I’m missing the point?

  18. jamiepohotsky

    19 Sep 2012 at 11:28

    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 they can’t help staring at a straight boy and starting to imagine something that just isn’t there and never will be. 

  19. jamiepohotsky

    19 Sep 2012 at 11:30

    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.

  20. NickdeFig

    19 Sep 2012 at 12:00

    @liamwaterloo How come when I click ‘other articles by’ it doesn’t come up with the one about open relationships too?

    • billynomates

      19 Sep 2012 at 12:01

      @NickdeFig @liamwaterloo because that one was written by “Guest Writer”

      • NickdeFig

        19 Sep 2012 at 12:02

        @billynomates @liamwaterloo Ooooh, I *see*. 😉

  21. DanielStrutt

    19 Sep 2012 at 13:32

    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. 

  22. RichMackers

    19 Sep 2012 at 14:26

    @SoSoGay @baxfail If straight men could actually be defined into ‘Boring Dickhead’ and ‘Adorable Hottie’ groups, this would be spot on.

  23. RichMackers

    19 Sep 2012 at 14:29

    @SoSoGay @baxfail I’m friends with Adorable Dickheads and Boring Hotties.

  24. Will_Hoe

    19 Sep 2012 at 16:05

    @SoSoGay @baxfail I’ve honestly never read anything more moronic and incorrect. I’m surprised at you.

  25. Brian_M_Carr

    19 Sep 2012 at 16:12

    @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.

  26. TheAdzFactor

    19 Sep 2012 at 16:19

    @Will_Hoe Shit! I better tell all my mates (80% are straight)

    • Will_Hoe

      19 Sep 2012 at 16:46

      @TheAdzFactor I’m afraid you can no longer be friends

  27. TheCrude

    19 Sep 2012 at 16:25

    @Will_Hoe whoever wrote that blog is clearly a massive BELLEND of the highest order.

  28. Jockboy1uk

    19 Sep 2012 at 23:05

    @liamwaterloo @sosogay @baxfail This young man really has a way with words. Unfortunately those words are complete crap.

  29. jeremydwilliams

    20 Sep 2012 at 08:24

    @SoSoGay @Baxfail playing devil’s advocate eh?!? people are far from stereotype painted and friendship is not based around sexuality.

  30. dylanbjones

    20 Sep 2012 at 16:08

    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 – the gay men are incapable of controlling themselves sexually, and are attracted to every male they encounter. I wish you had a little more imagination.

  31. dylanbjones

    20 Sep 2012 at 16:08

    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.

  32. Martin

    20 Sep 2012 at 21:21

    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.

  33. si1971brown

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:42

    @BoyGeorge so true me and my mate who is gay do everything togher hes godfather to my kids

  34. LeePollardUK

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:42

    @BoyGeorge No, the straight guy just hasn’t realised he is gay yet!

  35. La_Brujis

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:42


  36. TTBellies

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:43

    @BoyGeorge of course they can be friends. Only narrow minded bigots would think otherwise! Some people are so narrow minded.


    1 Oct 2012 at 11:43

    @BoyGeorge I love you George and I’m a real glunge hunter ! So yes it’s true we can all be friends

  38. russpeers

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:44

    @BoyGeorge Agree with you. What a terrible article. Only the last paragraph makes any sense.

  39. ChiaryChia

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:45

    @BoyGeorge only with the stupid and primitives, can’t be friend

    • Lizette0124

      1 Oct 2012 at 11:48

      @ChiaryChia @BoyGeorge People are People. Just different stories. All Beautiful.

      • ChiaryChia

        1 Oct 2012 at 11:51

        @Lizette0124 @BoyGeorge there is only one race: human kiss from italy :)

        • Lizette0124

          1 Oct 2012 at 11:57

          ((((( @ChiaryChia @BoyGeorge )))))<–Group point Exactly! XO

        • ChiaryChia

          1 Oct 2012 at 12:05

          @Lizette0124 @ChiaryChia @BoyGeorge hug for you…. tanto amoreeeee <3 <3 <3

    • futura2015

      1 Oct 2012 at 11:50

      @ChiaryChia yes! like the question can a boy and a girl being only friends? some people say no but I guess it’s coz THEY think they couldn’t

      • ChiaryChia

        1 Oct 2012 at 12:34

        @futura2015 situation depend :)

  40. futura2015

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:46

    @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

  41. markswife

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:48

    @BoyGeorge And why ever not? Who would even question it. Good article.

  42. suelanigan01

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:48

    @BoyGeorge Oh bless.

  43. AdamgasmAussie

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:48

    I fwd ROVELA to you for a laugh -did u enjoy it ??
    — adam lambert & russel brand & rove McManus & Christine (??)

  44. laurabigon2

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:49

    @BoyGeorge what a stipid article!!!

  45. torontoniteowl

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:53

    @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!

  46. hrhnikkiawesome

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:55

    @BoyGeorge OMG #REALLY!?

  47. TheatreOfGhosts

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:55

    @BoyGeorge well i love u george…. but i wouldnt shag you.

  48. CougarMuffin

    1 Oct 2012 at 11:58

    @BoyGeorge It happens in movies anyway

  49. AmazonWoman22

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:02

    @BoyGeorge Women can as well. 😉

  50. KnightColleen

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:14

    @BoyGeorge I agree

  51. RossAndrewSutherland

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:16

    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.

  52. Davey_G33

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:17

    @BoyGeorge Absolutely yes !! Life would be pretty dull if all your friends were cast from the same mould.

  53. Ross_Is_Amazing

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:25

    @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

  54. JoRose9

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:33

    @BoyGeorge cant believe someone actuall asked such a daft question

  55. mandyjp14

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:49

    @BoyGeorge who asked that question? What a div!! x

  56. liamwaterloo

    1 Oct 2012 at 12:56

    @SoSoGay @Baxfail Oooh!

  57. JimmyMojiKoda

    1 Oct 2012 at 13:00

    @BoyGeorge YES! I have many straight male friends and I love them!

  58. jackcullenuk

    1 Oct 2012 at 13:24

    @SoSoGay I struggled with @BaxFail’s two menu options for straight men: Adorable Hottie / Boring Dickhead. My straight friends are neither.

    • stefanroberts

      1 Oct 2012 at 13:28

      @jackcullenuk @sosogay @baxfail I agree.

  59. gaumwhat

    1 Oct 2012 at 13:28

    @BoyGeorge lord have mercy this was just me…

  60. DrTimCB

    1 Oct 2012 at 13:43

    @SoSoGay @Baxfail @BoyGeorge Gosh this kind of story depresses the hell out of me. Full of stereotyping & generalisations. Lazy journalism.

  61. Shaunlawson101

    1 Oct 2012 at 13:58

    @SoSoGay thanks for the follow 😀 x

    • SoSoGay

      1 Oct 2012 at 13:58

      @Shaunlawson101 no problemo!

  62. andybruce1962

    1 Oct 2012 at 14:52

    @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

  63. GaryNumanbot

    1 Oct 2012 at 15:09

    @sallystokes24 @bradcrogers I’m not but Brad & Boy George are,i’ve seen them mincing around the place LOL

  64. ThatGirlIsBAD

    1 Oct 2012 at 16:18

    @BoyGeorge lmfao. That’s great! Thanks for clarifying. 😉

  65. Andi_Vaughan

    1 Oct 2012 at 16:48

    @BoyGeorge another question to ponder…can hermaphrodites get on with themselves?

  66. brip

    1 Oct 2012 at 19:27

    Ah the Liz Jones of Gaysville!

  67. JaneWhiteman

    2 Oct 2012 at 14:16

    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.

  68. halflighter

    2 Oct 2012 at 19:40

    Bi-sexuals are screwed, then; they can’t be friends with anyone!

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