We always sort of flinch at this ‘bromance’ buzzword that’s come up… because of this homosexual terror that straight guys have. It’s ridiculous.
Society tends to form bonds through the act of casting aside anyone who thinks or acts differently than what’s “acceptable.” They will feel empowered by vulturing together, as they pray on anyone deemed as deserving shame; breading an “Us vs. Them” mentality, where “Us” is always right. We can see this behavior within most social groups, as power is maintained through the constant threat of social ridicule. Just look back at you’re school years, were the popular kids would gang up on the outcasts as a show of force. This has taught people to hide behind mock strength or to gravitate to cliques in a desperate need to find protection in numbers. This also taught people that the easiest way to keep everyone in line was through open shaming.
We’re more familiar with this concept when we view what girls have to deal with growing up. In their case, the behavior of girls is dominated through slut shaming by both boys and other girls. They are told how to act, how to speak, how to dress, and even what to think under the threat of being called a slut, irrelevant of how sexually active they actually are. But this doesn’t work the same way with boys, right? Boys can’t be shamed with anything sexual.
Although I previously wrote on how men ARE slut shamed, the reality of peer pressure among boys comes from a different word, even though it’s still about sex. Among boys, the biggest social threat isn’t if they’re “sluts,” or even if they’re weak. The peer pressure comes from questioning their sexuality with a very different perspective. They use the word “Gay,” as it assumes the notion that being gay is being less of a man.
“Gay” becomes an adjective used to shame boys into going along with the group. A boy has a best friend with whom they spend all their free time with, or could even call up for help to stand up to others? They must be gay. A boy cries? He must be gay. A boy says something nice about how another boy looks? He must be gay. A boy takes care of his appearance? Plays with dolls? Reads poetry? Get good grades? Likes theater? Or art? Or even music? The universal put down answer to all these things? Gay.
Before we rally behind the notion of how it’s boys hurt other boys, how the patriarchy and our male dominated sexist society is the one hurting men, keep in mind how girls will do the exact same thing to boys. A girl doesn’t receive the attention she wants from a boy? It must be that he’s gay. Rejected by a boy? It must be because he’s gay. If he likes to spend more time with his male best friend than her? He has to be gay, because that’s the only reason why he’d choose his friends over her. Doesn’t want to sleep with her? Obviously gay. Questioning a boy’s sexuality becomes a simple way some girls go on to control them. If he asks for her emotional support or calls her out for being abusive? Has to be because he’s gay, because a real man would be able to put up with her.
As a way to keep boys and latter on men in check, society ends up preying off the same insecurities that was bashed into their brains, as we created the need to prove their “Straightness” and an ingrained into their mind the “Homosexual Terror” (the fear of being viewed as gay). This has lead to some of men to be unable to handle their own sexuality in the cases of actually being gay. It also has a lasting damaging effect on straight men, as it creates a subconscious fear being viewed as gay, as they feel the need to prove just how straight they are. We see it in the constant need to validate their masculinity through signs of strength or sexual prowess. Some people might accuse these men of being homophobic, but the reality is quite different. These men know how society (both men and women) treats anyone viewed as a “lesser man” and are constantly told that gays are lesser men. (Read as “Be a Real Man”)
And before you assume that society had been moving into a more inclusive and accepting mindset as we become more accepting of gays, that we’ve moved into a less homophobic culture, the only thing we’ve done is to move into a more politically correct embrace of men’s sexuality. We still give an overwhelming importance to a man’s sexuality, as if it being gay or straight defines his manhood. We still make the constant sexual innuendoes of a couple of men being close friends. You see it with every famous on screen bromance, as suddenly the internet becomes full of fan fiction gay erotica about them. Any male celebrity who takes care of his appearance or is sensitive or emotionally open, the gay rumor mills will run on overdrive.
Fortunately, some men are actually starting to take a stand against this attitude. During an interview, Tom Hardy was faced with this kind of issue. The reporter kept throwing several innuendos about the possibility of him having a homosexual experience in his past. Mr. Hardy, with the sternest expression possible, bluntly shut down the situation with a two simple questions.
“Are you asking about my sexuality?”
The interviewer could do little more than change the subject, as trying to follow up on it would expose the notion that the actor’s sexuality defines the man’s masculinity. Do you know why Mr. Hardy’s confrontation of that type of question and that type of attitude was so important? Because his sexual experiences are NOBODY’S FUCKING PROBLEM. It won’t make him a better or worse actor, nor will it make him a better or worse man. And yet social media is obsessed in defining who is gay and who isn’t. We, as a society, need to change this. And we, as men, need to stop playing the “of course I’m not gay” game.
You’re Gay? Fine. You’re Bi? Fine. You’re Straight? Fine. Your sexuality should only matter to YOU. (and your partner, obviously) Who cares what others think? Placing your value as a man on who you’d rather aim your penis is a pretty superficial way to define yourself as a man. Most men understand that their sexuality doesn’t make them more or less of a man. Letting your actions be dominated by someone else’s opinion of your sexuality makes even less sense.
How can we stop playing that game? For starters, by not ostracizing anyone because of their sexual orientation. Stop putting so much stock on whether they’re gay or not. “Oh, but if they’re gay, they’ll hit on me!” has to be the dumbest reason to shun someone off. . That’s like saying you won’t be friends with a girl you don’t want to sleep with, simply because she might hit possibly on you at some time in the imaginary future. If anything, you should feel flattered if he hits on you.
From there, don’t let the idea of being called gay stop you…
Don’t let it stop you from telling your male friends how important they are in your life. The fact that they’re guys should never stop you. Keep in mind that adding “in a hetero way” is you pretty much admitting how you’re still being a slave to social shaming. On a side note, saying “I love you” when you’re drunk doesn’t count. Most people that need to be drunk to say “I love you” are the same people who say “I love you” to whatever bartender gave them a drink after last call.
Don’t let the idea of being called gay stop you from pursuing your dreams and passions. You love dance? Dance away. You like painting? Unleash yourself on a canvas. Music? Acting? Macramé? More power to you! At least you have a dream, a passion, and a purpose to pursue; which is a lot more than what most people have. Just make sure you have the dedication and talent to back it up.
Don’t let the idea of being called gay define how you present yourself to the world. Have no shame in being as eloquent or elegant as you want to. Last time I checked, your sexuality had nothing to do with how you dress, what your grooming habits are, or how you speak. Swearing while wearing a run down tee-shirt and sweats don’t make you any more straight. Neither does having proper diction while wearing nice shirt or pressed slacks make you gay.
If we want to move past this mentality, we need to move away from giving such an important role within our society to men’s sexuality. We need to stop feeding the trolls by assuming that men are defined by where they point their penis. We need to stop viewing men as slaves their dicks. Maybe if we stop telling men that they have no self control or that they need to prove to everyone their sexuality, men can show us that they are more than we give them credit for.
I don’t want anyone to think that with this post I am excusing homophobia, or in any way denying it. Homophobia is real. There are people (men and women) who still discriminate against others based on their sexual orientation. This article should in no way make you think that we, as a society, are past it.
If you’re a guy who think being gay makes anyone less of a man, let me just tell you one thing. Gay men have accepted their sexuality in a world where closed minded bigots like you still exist. That alone proves they have bigger balls than you.