Monday, June 29, 2009

I Love You, Man (as a friend)

via New York Times, by Douglas Quenqua

WELCOME to the flip side of homophobia.

“I’m flattered, and I think it’s hilarious,” Kris Allen told recently, responding to the news that his former roommate and runner-up on “American Idol,” Adam Lambert, had a crush on him.

Mr. Lambert, who favors black eyeliner and leather pants, had told Rolling Stone that Mr. Allen, an aw-shucks Christian from Arkansas, was “the one guy that I found attractive in the whole group on the show — nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type — except that he has a wife.”

This all went down in the same interview in which Mr. Lambert finally confirmed the long-simmering rumor that, yep, he’s gay.

Mr. Allen’s cool, self-assured response to being the object of his gay roommate’s affection doesn’t exactly qualify him as a civil rights hero, not at a time when straight men march against Proposition 8 in California and the most anticipated gay-themed film of the year, “Brüno,” is coming from a straight (if highly waxed) comedian.

But do give him credit for overcoming one of the most common deal-killers in friendships between straight and gay men: the awkward crush.

The kinship between gay men and straight women is familiar to the point of cliché (see: “Sex and the City,” “Will and Grace,” Kathy Griffin’s audience, etc.), but friendships between gay and straight men have barely registered on the pop culture radar, perhaps because they resist easy classification. For every sweeping statement one can make about such friendships, there is a real-life counter example to undermine the stereotypes. And as with all friendships, no two are exactly alike.

But as America’s openly gay minority becomes more visibly interwoven into society — a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 4 out of 10 respondents had a close friend or family member who was a gay man or a lesbian — the straight world becomes more aware of the gay world. Although male friends of opposite orientations can face formidable obstacles — sexuality, language, peer pressure, inequality — there seems to be more mutual appreciation and common ground.

“The younger generation understands the spectrum and fluidity of sexuality much more than generations of the past,” said Tom Bourdon, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center at Tufts University. “Most liberal-minded straight guys today could say they have gay friends, and people wouldn’t bat an eye.”

Read the rest.

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