bromosexual

From the NYT on the 7th, “The Rise of the ‘Bromosexual’ Friendship” by Jim Farber, beginning:

A recent ad for the Bravo TV show “Shahs of Sunset” finds two of its male stars lazing on lounge chairs at the beach. Amid a scene of scantily clad sun worshipers, the best friends Reza Farahan and Mike Shouhed gaze at different objects of desire: Mr. Farahan at musclebound guys, Mr. Shouhed at voluptuous women.

Their distinct lusts, which may have alienated gay and straight men from each other in the past, inspire the ultimate gesture of fraternal connection: a fist bump.

Used to be, gay guys were at best wary of straight guys, fearing verbal or physical assaults from them; and straight guys steered clear of gay guys, fearing that homosexuality was a contagious disease and that gay guys were sexual predators. In recent years, being gay has been increasingly normalized, depending on age, social class, education, race/ethnicity, religion, and place of residence. (Times readers are a pretty narrow sampling of the population, so everything in its Style sections, like this story, has to be viewed in context.) In any case, within certain geoups, it’s now common for a straight man to have one or more gay buddies and for a gay man to have one or more straight buddies.

The Times piece continues:

“Mike and I are so similar,” Mr. Farahan said. “He has been a womanizer and I’ve been a player. In the ad, we’re having a moment, and it’s the same moment. The only difference is that I’m looking at men and he’s looking at women.”

The bond strikes the Irish author Jarlath Gregory as fresh for the culture and familiar to him. His latest novel, “The Organised Criminal,” has at its center a brotherly friendship between a gay man and a straight man.

“That kind of easy relationship would not be credible to a broad audience 10 years ago,” said Mr. Gregory, 38, who is gay. “One of the things my publisher liked about my book was that this friendship was something we haven’t seen much before.”

At least in pop culture we haven’t. Obviously, there have always been friendships between gay men and straight men, but only recently have they become more prominently, and comfortably, represented in TV shows, movies, books and blogs.

There is often a traditionally masculine sense of familiarity at play in these portrayals, exuding a feeling particular enough to suggest its own term: bromosexual relationships.

The term isn’t great: it’s clearly a combination of the element bro ‘buddy, mate’ and –mosexual from homosexual, which strongly suggests that bromosexual is a subcase of homosexual. And indeed bromosexual has been coined elsewhere in this sense, in an episode of the Steam Room Stories video series (posted in “Xmosexual” on March 5th), where

Bromosexuals are guys who are noisily masculine in manner (like straight bros) while clearly expressing their sexual attractions to one another. So: a hypermasculine (but overtly gay) presentation of self.

There were also promosexuals (roughly, flaming faggots) and normosexuals (gay guys who present themselves as “normal guys” or “regular guys”) — all types of homosexuals.

(SRS, in which gay guys and straight guys hang out together in a men’s steam room, mostly exchanging talk about sex, is certainly an instance of the phenomenon the NYT piece is talking about.)

It’s not easy to think of an alternative term that more clearly refers to close friendships between gay men and straight men. Brosocial, built on homosocial, won’t quite do, since homosociality (social associations, bonds, between members of the same sex, especially men) is already built into bro. In fact, bromosexual has also been used for bromantic relationships (between men, of whatever sexuality), as in this Zazzle postcard:

So, depending on who you’re listening to, a bromosexual relationship is either two straight guys, two gay (but strikingly masculine) guys, or one from each column. I’d think twice betfore flaunting that BROMOSEXUAL t-shirt (there are such).

Meanwhile, on the general front of terminology for sexual orientation or identity, there’s a piece from a Portlandia episode for National Coming Out Day (in S5 E7 “Doug Becomes a Feminist”), in which the following ridiculous labels are presented:

hetero-plausible, homo-nextual, homo-logical, homo-spectacle, hetero-speculative, homo-textual, hobo-sexual, homo-casual, me-sexual, homo-sonic

You can watch the (short) piece here.

One Response to “bromosexual”

  1. [BLOG] Some Saturday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky engages with an article on gay/straight […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: