Bromancing and the Destigmatisation of Homosexuality


Toby Young wrote in a column in the Independent over the weekend to comment on the growth of so-called bromanticism in modern movie making, arguing specifically that this phenomenon has grown in the wake of the “destigmatisation of homosexuality”.

The point is pretty trite and obvious, but I don’t think it had even occurred to me just how much this shift has taken hold. Young talks about his own youth and the lack of emotional attachment he would have to his male friends beyond the kind of stoic, brotherly companionship you can imagine seeing in war movies and westerns of the past. He says nowadays the shift has moved the other way to a point where “young men are more emotionally wrapped up in each other than they are with young women”.

This may well be true for a great deal of men around the world. The kind of hugging and physical attachment exhibited by footballers in the past and frowned upon by observers has become part and parcel of modern life for most men. I personally hug pretty much all my male and female friends when I see them.

Why? I honestly couldn’t provide you with a decent explanation other than I have absolutely no qualms or insecurities about sexuality. I think, as Young later notes, that this must be driven in part by the gay rights and liberation movement, along with the changes in modern life in the acceptance of homosexuality in all walks, but it had just never occurred to me just how much men are involved in each other’s lives now in emotional ways that would have been frowned upon constantly in the past. I suppose that this just doesn’t seem like something ‘gay’ to me or any of my male friends. We don’t consider having lengthy conversations about relationships and emotional issues to be a practice exclusive to gay men.

Whether that is a change of the times or upbringing or social values and mores of my generation, I don’t know. But I Love You Man, which Young says is satirising this relationship, has brought this to a forefront in the minds of social commentators in newspapers across the land and will likely provide a very interesting generational divide and maybe, just maybe, the film will force men of my generation to consider the relationships they have with other men and for others, not inducted into this cult, make them try to understand that talking with men you know about their feelings is, quite simply, not gay.


One response

  1. Not exactly my type of movie, but you make some valid observations. The Men’s Movement really helped to turn around the notion that males are emotionless slobs, and our society is becoming more accepting of the notion that men can show affection for each other and not be gay. We’re also realising that human sexuality is a fluid thing and there aren’t black and white definitions of “straight” and “gay”, so as long as no on is forced into anything it’s okay.

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