Straight men…they invade our clubs, our porn, and our fantasies. And yet, if a straight girl has feelings for a gay man, we think it’s ridiculous. Jonny McGovern, the host of Hey Qween, had a hilarious song, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Homo” that mocked these types of girl crushes. But is it that weird for a straight woman to like a man who is more emotionally intelligent, communicative, and not part of the toxically masculine society that’s oppressing her? Meanwhile, almost hypocritically, we are quick to catch feelings when a straight guy gives us attention.
It makes sense. When we befriend straight guys, there’s a certain instant camaraderie that can be missed in gay culture. Whether we are reading each other, having dehumanizing conversations on apps, or treating sex as a negotiation, gay men don’t often treat each other as people. We often channel our sense of alienation as an excuse not to connect with people we have so much in common with. We all have our past hurt. But rather than bonding over our similarities, we tend to keep our emotional guard up. We can rely on simplistic understandings of relationships. We treat gay guys like gal pals, Prince Charming, or sex toys. But with straight men, we’re obliged to find other things to talk about. We bond over mutual interests or just about being guys. We likely will make room for them that we won’t make for other gay men.
And yet, is it that unavailability that allows us to open our hearts to straight guys?
When gay men are emotionally unavailable, it’s a problem. But when straight men are emotionally unavailable and sexually unavailable, it’s a win? Is the unavailability the turn on? We have people throwing themselves at us on apps. Are we interested in someone who offers us a challenge or a chase? Have we gotten so numb to the thrill of sex with someone interested in us we’ve moved onto big-game hunting? Either way, it’s not a recipe for a happy, fulfilling relationship, no matter what the creative team in your head is telling you.
Men need homosocial bonding and affection. Homophobia and misogyny have done a number on this country. Many men grow up not knowing how to show intimacy or tenderness. You have fathers who don’t hug their sons. Or worse, they never share a tender moment and always keep their guard up. Some dads actually attack their sons to make them “stronger.” Meanwhile, if men seek affection elsewhere, people speculate about their sexuality. If guys get too close, they’re accused of being gay. But intimacy between two men is normal regardless of their sexuality. You can hug your friends and tell them you love them regardless of your gender or sexual orientation. But this toxic masculinity leaves a lot of men emotionally unavailable and avoidant to physical intimacy. Hell, how many guys call physical intimacy “body contact” like it’s some sort of clinical diagnosis rather than a psychological, emotional, and spiritual need?
I have been there. I have fallen for straight friends. I had a buddy I used to sleep with. It was purely platonic. He’d sleep over, and sometimes we’d cuddle. It was unclear if it was male bonding, homosocial platonic love, or just two lonely guys who needed physical affection. But it was nice to have non-sexual intimacy with someone who cared about me. This happens in the gay world, too. Some guys will just want to cuddle or sleep together. But like with gay sex, it can often feel transactional, like one person is using another person for intimacy rather than actual physical touch given in love. Or they can be so controlling it’s like they’re forcing you into their fantasy.
In college, I got into a debate with a straight guy. If homophobia didn’t exist, I believe more men would have sex with men, whether out of curiosity, interest, or pure laziness. He even confessed he had tried sex with a man and knew it wasn’t for him. I respected that. I believed, and still do, that testosterone can often overpower our rational thought. For two years, I had sex, almost exclusively, with men who identified as “straight.” It never turned into anything more. It was not that good. It was also not a choice I made for some fetish or fantasy. A lot of the gay guys I liked didn’t think and often told me that I wasn’t “masculine” enough for them. And yet, here were the “straight” guys they were lusting after admiring my self-assuredness, willingness to express myself, my body, and my personality. They were validating me sexually in a way gay men who I liked for their personalities, interests, and non-gender normative behavior, were not. Go figure!
Here are a few tips for cutting to the emotional chase and avoiding wasting time, energy, and romantic feelings on guys who are straight, and more importantly, unavailable. I hope they can help you find more fulfilling relationships with men across the board.
Sex isn’t Everything
As queer men, it can be easy to make everything about sex. But sometimes, there’s something to be said for exploring the realm of relationships outside sex. While, as queer men, we can have sex with our friends. Maybe this straight person you are developing feelings for is the exact opposite of that. Reparative relationships help heal the wounds of past trauma and negative associations. This friendship can teach you the value of sexual and romantic restraint. It can teach you the value of deeper emotional connections and intimacy. After all, isn’t it better you develop a relationship that helps you both love better and have more fulfilling relationships rather than a sordid sexual encounter that’ll leave you both worse for wear? I remember once realizing that I had developed a friendship that was worth more to me than the sex I fantasized about having. It helps disempower these fantasies.
Are You Rewarding Homophobia?
What if your new straight crush is heterosexual and you are totally projecting? You’re ignoring their boundaries in favor of what you deem appropriate based on your fantasy. Why are they worthy of your attention over all the available gay men out there? You are willing to defy gravity and logic to create a scenario where this guy is interested in you romantically. Wouldn’t that mental and emotional energy be better spent exploring your barriers to intimacy or doing the work to find a guy who likes you as much as you like him?
Let’s say your gaydar is right, and this person likes sex with men and chooses to identify as straight. Or on the full moon, they’ll make out with you. The fact is this: they could be under the LGBTQ umbrella, but rather than have the courage to eschew their privilege, they’d rather enjoy it. Either way, you are rewarding homophobia. Either you think someone deserves your time, attention, and love more than gay men because they are straight. Or you are rewarding someone who likes men but chooses to remain in the closet while you have had the courage to take the sociological blows you get for being out. Either way, it’s not a relationship of equals and not sustainable.
Focus on The Relationship vs. Your Feelings
The relationship is always a good barometer for what’s really going on. We need to take our blinders off and honestly look at the relationship in front of us vs. the relationship in our head. Your feelings might be romantic, but that might be misdirected love and attention. Maybe this guy makes you feel loved in a way your father didn’t, friends haven’t, or men have not. Maybe you’re attached to the validation you are receiving that you didn’t get in high school. But also, be real, what is the relationship like? Are you bending over backward for this person? Do they show up as much for you as you do for them?
What do you like about the relationship? Is it because of how he treats you? Is it because of how open you are? Is it because of the complete lack of intimacy? Regard for your feelings? It’s highly likely the reason you are so interested in this relationship is that it’s related to something you are working through emotionally. It’s also likely you are doling out a love that should be reserved for yourself or someone who can offer you a gratifying healthy relationship.
Realize Their Flaws
An important thing to do is to turn off the Instagram filter in your mind and see the reality of the situation. No man is perfect. If you are friends with a straight guy, take off the rose-colored glasses and see him for who he is. He picks his nose. He probably doesn’t douche. It’s easy to fantasize once we get the straight guy to fall in love with us that we will live happily ever after. But what does that even look like? Let’s face it; it’s easy to project onto straight men because they are often not sharing all of their emotions or are unaccustomed to intimacy. It’s easy to fill in the gaps with your hopes and dreams. We do this with gay men, too. We fill in the gaps of what we don’t know or don’t care to know with what we want. That’s too much pressure. Don’t be a Hector Projector.
Was This Fantasy Imprinted?
As a person of color, I often ask myself when I am attracted to someone. Is this me, or is this society? Growing up, I always saw white, heteronormative men as “attractive.” Over time, I learned to disconnect from what the media tells me is attractive and see for myself what qualities I value and what I enjoy. But we all have an inner beast below our belt. And that guy can be trained like a dog. It’s easy for our sexual attraction to be hijacked by constant media telling us this is sexy.
People from our past can also haunt us in our sexual attractions. Some guys can remind us of history, unfinished business, or unresolved emotions we have with other people. It’s worth reflecting if this guy is getting your feelings for other people. Or worse, are you forcing your new straight pal to relieve your traumatic history with you.
Are You Ready For a Baby?
Let’s say you get everything you want. This straight guy decides not only does he like you sexually he wants to date you romantically. You now have a baby. A queer baby with no idea of how they feel about sex with men or the LGBTQ community. Are you going to be there while he learns about queer culture? Do you want to essentially raise the guy you’re dating? Are you prepared for once he’s a full-grown queer her may choose someone else or decide he wants to be with women? It’s quite possible the attraction is just to someone who is new or innocent. But are you being innocent with them or trying to corrupt them?
Ultimately, we need to focus on relationships that enrich us. We’ve been socialized either through homophobia, or how it makes us feel, to deify straight men. But rather than thinking of them as better or worthy of more attention, leeway, and appreciation, just look at them as equals. We are all trying to find some organic and natural solutions to toxic masculinity. And ultimately, if we can all, as men, look at each other as brothers, maybe we can find new and healthier ways to connect, express intimacy, and build lasting relationships. But maybe don’t think of your boyfriends and sex partners as brothers.
Christian Cintron is a writer, actor, and stand-up comedian. He has written about entertainment and gay culture for Edge Publications, Queerty and DNA Magazine. He’s also a regular contributor to Backstage.com.
YouTube: CintronicComedy // Twitter: AbsoluteCintron // Instagram: @SighKickScream