One of the biggest myths propagated by mainstream media is that many women who are friends with and/or interested in gay men also want to sleep with those gay men. Esquire threw its hat into the clichéd ring last month with an article positing that vampires represent gay men, thus explaining their continued popularity among teenage girls. And Details added to the conversation when they photographed openly gay American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert in the throes of staged passion with a half-naked female model.
Rather than relying on straight men’s magazines to answer the question "Why do women love gay men?" we decided to take the query into our own, more capable hands. As the Internet’s leading site for gay entertainment news, we have a strong female readership. And when we asked them to open up about their interest in gay men, they were happy to oblige.
Nearly 2,000 women participated in our survey/quest to find out just why women of all stripes so dig gay boys. And while we tried to offer a variety of answers to the Big Question — from surface ("Two men together is just hot") to social justice ("I’m a straight ally") — we discovered that the reasons women love gay men are deeper and more complicated than Will and Grace ever let on.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE SEX. WELL, NOT EXACTLY.
The media obsession with women and gay men started, as social phenomena so often did in the ’90s, with Jennifer Aniston. In 1998, Aniston joined Paul Rudd in the romantic dramedy The Object of My Affection. In it, Aniston leaves her long-term boyfriend and falls in love with her gay roommate (Rudd). After a tumultuous platonic courtship and one near-seduction, Aniston and Rudd find their own (male) partners and remain best friends.
Since then, female interest in gay men has reached entirely new heights, A Google search for "M/M slash fiction" yields 117,000 websites mdash; all of which are predominantly populated by women.
Dozens of sites are dedicated to Torchwood‘s Jack and Ianto, with thousands of fan fiction stories and fan-made videos. And for every community dedicated to legitimate fictional couples (Jack and Ianto, Torchwood; Kevin and Scotty, Brothers & Sisters; Oliver Fish and Kyle Lewis, One Life to Live, etc.), there is a site devoted to fantasy fictional couples (Sam and Dean Winchester, Supernatural; Harry and Ron, Harry Potter; Merlin and Arthur, Merlin.)
If you want to watch Sam and Dean fall in love over dialogue dubbed from As the World Turns, if you want to read a story about Jack and Ianto living as a married couple on a planet full of hoverboards, if you want to see a music video of Oliver and Kyle’s most angst-ridden moments set to the tune of Lionel Richie‘s "Hello," you can find it in these communities.
Many of the women who participate in "slash" communities are simply aroused by the idea of two men together. AfterElton.com reader Cheri told us: "I don’t have any political reasons for enjoying gay couples on TV, movies and in books. I just like watching good-looking men, and the more the better."
"Just plain" hotness is the reason 49 percent of our survey participants enjoy fictional gay pairings. (Thirty-three percent like gay pairings because they "really enjoy love stories, no matter the gender of the pairing," while six percent say "It’s unattainable for me and I love the fantasy.")
Like beauty, hotness is in the eye of the beholder. What makes gay couples hot to women? Certainly aesthetics plays a role. If one set of strong hands and solid abs are good, two sets of strong hands and solid abs are better. But something deeper is at play in the attraction, and the majority of women do not want to sleep with a gay guy.