Has homophobia ruined straight male/male bonding?

Before I say anything, watch this video:

Wow, this video is vintage in so many ways. Who on earth would expect to see that kind of performance on mainstream television today? None of us, I’m sure.

So what do you think is going on here? Are Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis making fun of homosexuals? In my opinion, I would say “no”.

(BTW, homophobia in cinema and television is another topic altogether, which I don’t want to address here.)

I’m not positive what year this was, but I am guessing perhaps late 40s or early 50s. In order to understand this clip, I really think we’d have to interpret it through the eyes of people of that time, which of course, we cannot really do (unless you are old enough to have been alive during that period). I surely can’t. However, I can guesstimate what I think is going on here.

It is a safe assumption that both Martin and Lewis were straight, and both knew what a homosexual was, and probably worked with quite a few of them. But did the mainstream audience know what a homosexual was? I’m not so sure. I’ve know the people my parent’s and grandparent’s ages that claim they had no ideas about homosexuality or alternate forms of sexual expression, such as oral sex, when they were younger.

But if that is the case, why was this so funny to the audience? Probably because it was perceived as not normal; simply out of character because it was so unexpected. Men don’t act like that, so it is funny when they do. In a way it has always been funny for a man to act as a woman (and by extension a fem homosexual, as applicable), dress as a woman, or do unmanly things (such as screaming in a high-pitched voice when scared). I get that. I’ve laughed at men dressed as nuns or drag queens in movies, and it does not offend me if it is not meant in a mean-spirited way. (Think Laurel & Hardy, Bugs Bunny, and Bosom Buddies.) But I certainly don’t think that this particular performance was a slight to gays.

This next video shows that this kind of behavior was not uncommon for this comedic duo (and not censored by the producers, either):

But why, in a modern world that is so much more accepting of gay men, has this kind of humor/behavior become verboten? When was the last time anyone has seen these kinds of antics in television or film? If we are so progressive, inclusive, and tolerant of differences in people, then why do producers and actors shy away from male/male displays of affection, even comedic ones?

I cannot be certain of this, of course, but I believe it is quite possibly because prior to the gay liberation movement, general audiences weren’t gay savvy, so antics such as this were not a real threat to men’s personal masculinity or identities as men (and let’s face it, frequently the male perception of a homosexuals is that they are not “real men”), and nothing untoward was implied.

Now take a look at these random, vintage photos I found online:

Would anyone who viewed these photos at the time they were taken have assumed from the get go that these men where homosexual simply because they were expressing affection for one another? Not likely. Sure, some might see it that way, particularly if they were homosexual themselves. And though some of the men in these photos might have been gay, I am convinced that the viewer’s assumption would not have been that these men were romantically or sexually involved. Rather, it would have been seen as just guys doing what guys do. Nobody would have thought twice about it.

But not any more! For the most part, men just don’t act that way in this day and age. Maybe that is not 100% true, but generally speaking, I think it is. Men act as though they must keep an arm’s length between them. Compare these photos to the ones above:

So has an increased awareness and visibility of gay men, and by extension, an increase in homophobia, created in straight men a kind of self-policing behavior meant to constantly reassure others that they are not a fag? In other words, have straight men lost the ability (or will) to express affection for one another out of a fear of being perceived as a homosexual?

If so, why? Are straight men even aware of this kind of self-policing behavior? And whose fault is it, gay men’s or straight men’s? In fact, is it anyone’s fault, and what can be done about it either way? Should anything be done about it?

Can men learn to express affection for one another once again, in an innocent, friendly, and sincere way? If they do, would society at large accept or reject that behavior?

If straight men could learn to be at ease with expressing affection for one another, I strongly feel that it would no only benefit them, but improve the world’s perception of gay men and male camaraderie. It seems to me that rampant homophobia is not only a disservice to gay men, but to straight men as well. It’s time our culture came to accept that non-sexual affection between men should not be frowned upon, and in fact, it should be encouraged.

Tags: camaraderie, friendship, gay, heterosexual, homophobia, homosexual, machismo, male, male bonding, men, More…public display of affection, sexuality, straigh

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Last pick i promise
I'm probably gonna come across as a homophob but I'm relatively secure in the thought that if you stick your penis in another mans mouth, even under the guise of a "game" your gay, at least a little gay. I'm willing to draw the distinction somewhere between tea-bagging someone while they are asleep vs. actually sticking something into a willing orifice. I'm pretty sure thats a clear line.

I like how you think that people could live together for 9 or 10 months in todays Military and not know everything that went on aboard ship.
@ Michael and Nano, In response to the bear trap/military phenomenon thing:

I am not an obvious homo, but after I worked at a restaurant for about 6 mos., the guys basically figured it out, and treated me accordingly. I didn't deny it, of course. The treatment wasn't bad, but they were intrigued by it. I got teased in a friendly manner a lot, but they also blew kisses at me, grabbed by cock or ass, fingered my ass, or grabbed my hand and placed it on their cock. This was almost non-stop behavior by married men with kids and sometimes grand kids. They were obsessed with my gayness. But no one, except one guy, was openly hostile towards me.

Michael, if you still get on here much, I got this delimma. Am I the only ATheist out there against Gays serving in the military. This is not hate. It has nothing to do with religion. I have gay friends and it does not change how I see them. I support Gay equality and rights fully. I just do not understand why we have to put our service personnel into a hostile work environment. Our military does not have time to fool with that, we should not ask them to.

Heh. "I just do not understand why we have to put our service personnel into a hostile work environment." Really? Maybe we shouldn't send them into combat, then.

Jokes aside, it's a little hard to believe you really think this way, Joseph. Much the same was said about putting blacks and women into the military. I think if we can ask our service members to die for us, we can ask them to do the somewhat less arduous task of working with people who are a little different from them.

Why is it alive there?

Could it be because of a cultural separation of the sexes? It is my understanding that PDA between M and F is strongly frowned upon. And could such admonitions between M/F interaction lead to an increase in incidental homosexual experiences?

At some point in the late forties I guess, it became somewhat of a badge of dishonor to live at home with your siblings and parents beyond HS or maybe college.

Actually, I think this has a lot to do with the increased pushing of a consumer culture. Why encourage people to live together when you can sell more houses by getting them to live alone or in smaller groups? Why encourage carpooling or public transportation when you can sell each person their own car?

There is a navy game called 'Bear Trap' where one guys gets on his knees, closes his eyes and opens his mouth and another guy tries to get his penis in the other guy's mouth knowing the first will bite if he suspects there is 'something in the trap.' Is this a reasonable game for straight men?

How have I missed out on this? Where do I take lessons? No seriously, it does not sound like a reasonable game for straight men. Or does it? I mean, don't men secretly worship other men, their maleness, their toughness, their strength, their power? Why do men like to watch porn in which a man is screwing a woman, why not just look at movies of women alone or in groups? Why inolve the man?
Seriously, your gonna bring the porn argument? Ok well if we want to have that discussion I enjoy watching just a woman to, but in watching Porn of a man and a woman I'm pretty much focused on reactions of the woman and her enjoyment and sexual-- desires during the act. (not really sure what a good word is there) Either way I mean its the act its self thats erotic, trust me if I could get my wife to let me video tape her and I that would be pretty damned hot to watch too, but I'm not gonna get turned on looking at myself, its her pleasure thats erotic.
Why not broach the subject of porn?

While I am not attempting to pose a response to your statement about what you like one way or the other, I do recall another straight (but slightly bi) AN member who admitted that he focuses on the male when watching porn. For him, his actions of lovemaking were more erotic. I guess that really boils down to "to each his own". BTW, I can get turned on my straight porn as well, but not because of the female (obviously), but in spite of her.
Those things are clear. I'm certainly not arguing that American culture went that way to discourage Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis skits.

I didn't think you were, really.

I'm just wondering if the transition from a more tribal model of living to kicking the males out of the pride to roam far away didn't have some impact on male/male relationships.

Quite possibly. I wonder how a sociologist or anthropolist might reply to this discussion.

And Bear Trap is not played in private.

So the tactic is to get it inside a man's mouth without him realizing it, and pull it out before he has time to bite down?

But this is only described as gay today. I mean, guys today can't even say an actor is handsome, 'cause, how would he know the guy us handsome or not? He must be gay. Sheesh.

So true, so true. Which is kind of the point of my article here. If gay wasn't known, there'd be no stigma.
Actually, I think this has a lot to do with the increased pushing of a consumer culture. Why encourage people to live together when you can sell more houses by getting them to live alone or in smaller groups? Why encourage carpooling or public transportation when you can sell each person their own car?

Even though this is off-topic, I totally agree. Taking care/spending time with family, and sharing resources should not be anything to be ashamed of, and it's all about consumerism.
Dallas et al,

As others have noted, this is an interesting topic. As with Richard, I'll ruminate.

There are many aspects to this topic. Some are cultural (I come from a physically nondemonstrative background), gender, homo-fear in multiple ways.

Many of the chosen photos are military. That is a different culture and a specific time in life, compared to civilian, so has different rules. Sports, same idea applies.

There are also generational differences. Millenials may have different perspective from boomers from greatest generation.
There are also generational differences. Millenials may have different perspective from boomers from greatest generation.

Agreed, and that is in part the focus of this discussion: the generational differences of male/male affection.

Ruminate and let us know what you think. Thanks.


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