Ever since grade school, my two closest friends have been a couple of straight guys — which is why I was so interested in an article in this Sunday’s New York Times about exactly that topic.
Granted, my friends are bookish, geeky types. But they’re straight, and I’ve always felt that I have far more in common with either of them than I do with your random gay guy.
Anyway, a couple of things in the article really resonated with me.
First, the complete lack of any sexual tension — the exact opposite of what so many people think would happen in friendships like these. Like the gay guys in the article point out, I’ve never felt anything remotely romantic for either of my straight friends; they’ve always felt exactly like brothers to me.
Okay, there was one time I felt the stirrings of a crush for one of them. I was in college, and I’d just been dumped by a guy, and I went to meet my friend, who was looking particularly attractive that day, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that, "Hey, my friend is a guy! And my God, he’s wearing that shirt well!"
But it quickly passed, and I never felt it again.
The article also points out how different straight men can seem from women. Like I said, my friends aren’t exactly the "typical" straight guy (if there is such a thing!), but they seem very "straight" in the sense that they’re not emotionally … complicated.
Most gay/straight male friendships are like this…
Sometimes when I spend time around women (and — let’s face it — a lot of gay men), I want to scream at all the subtext and ridiculous sniping. Why can’t people just say what they mean, like my straight buddies do? And when you apologize to a straight guy, that’s always the end of it — there’s never any lingering resentment or lasting grudges.
You have no idea how refreshing that is!
The downside to their nature is that my straight friends often really don’t have a clue how women think. Just as in the article, I often feel like an emissary between the sexes, explaining to my straight friends what their wives might be feeling, and explaining to their wives how men are different from women ("Every guy has looked at porn. It doesn’t mean anything.")
The article mentions one potential pitfall in friendships between gay and straight guys: the tendency of straight guys to resist talking about the personal or emotional aspects of the gay guy’s relationships.
(Interestingly, and maybe counter-intuitively, the article points out that the straight guys who have the least problems with this are the ones with military training or who come from military families. Apparently, they’re used to, and really comfortable with, being around people from different backgrounds. I guess the idea that gays-in-the-military would hurt "unit cohesion" is even more of a lie than we knew!)
Anyway, after I read that, I thought, "Is this true? Do my straight friends ignore my personal life?"
Then I laughed and thought, "Um, no. These were the guys who harangued me into having a commitment ceremony and then led the charge the day of the event!"
And this was way back in 1997!
What are your experiences with straight male friends? The same or different as mine and the guys in the article?