"Bros before 'mos"

Being the Straight Guys’ Gay Best Friend

"Bros before 'mos"

Photo Illustration Credit: Kevin O’Keeffe

I love straight men.

No, not that kind of love. That was high school. I love them in a bromance kind of way. Probably a good 95% of my male friends are heterosexual. And I love them all, despite my inability to understand their sexual viewpoint.

Conversely, I don’t love gay men very much. Again, not that way. I’ve loved one or two. I just don’t tend to get along with them. One of my best friends is gay, but beyond him, I don’t really interact well with other homosexuals. That’s pretty confusing, considering when I was in high school I envisioned my friend group in college as being a sexually-fluid tableau. Instead, it’s just a lot of heterosexuals.

Now let me be clear: this is totally fine! I wouldn’t trade my friend group for anyone else in the world. I’d rather have great friends from a homogenous group than shitty friends from a more diverse one. However, it’s not just me having trouble; it’s much more a general cultural problem. So I do find myself pondering the question: why do gay men have a hard time getting along?

This is a wild and irresponsible generalization, but take as gospel for the sake of this post that there are two types of gay guys: more masculine-thinking and more feminine-thinking. Again, this is a total generalization only to be used for the purposes of this article. Please do not ask the nearest homosexual if he is a masculine- or feminine-thinking person. He will not react well. Additionally, please know that masculine and feminine guys are not the same as masculine and feminine thinkers. Loosely defined, masculine thinkers are more logical and organized, while feminine thinkers are more impulsive and creative.

Got all that? Okay. Generally, I am a more masculine thinker, perhaps in no way moreso than when talking about sex and sexuality. Not only am I highly logical and organized, but I’m also totally honest about my sexual appetite. Suffice it to say, I really like men, will brazenly flirt with men (even straight men!) and generally just really like talking about it with others. While you might think that would put straight men off, I think that generally (yes, I know, I’m overdosing on the word “generally”), guys love to talk about sex, and they appreciate someone who is honest and comfortable with the subject.

Conversely, women generally prefer the more asexual, media-promoted image of a gay man, obsessed with fashion, pop culture and the other “safe” subjects. I’ve tried writing something about this in the past to no avail (it’s a sticky subject, to be sure), but suffice it to say that when a woman says she wants a gay best friend, it’s not because she wants to talk about sex with him. It’s because she wants him to tell her how fabulous she is, go shopping with her and watch “27 Dresses” while drinking wine on a Saturday night.

Personally, I do have some of these traits. I’m a “Project Runway” devotee, I love H&M and I will happily snap the hell up for a fierce-looking woman, but when it comes to how I define myself as a gay man, it’s much more about the gender of my desired sexual partners and much less about anything else. Even in my friendships with women, I make sure to draw the boundaries. While I will call them diva and quote “Mean Girls” all day with them, I also talk to them about men and my own needs. I would never befriend a woman who only seeks the asexual version of a gay man.

However, gay men in the more asexual mold generally don’t have nearly the rivalry with one another as men in the more masculine-thinking mold, leading to more friendships between them. Masculine-thinking gay men are on the whole much more competitive, definitely fracturing any possible connections. But what about between the two groups? Why aren’t there more friendships between masculine- and feminine-thinking gay men?

I’m hardly the first to break this news, but there is definitely a subconscious stigma of being “too gay” in our culture, leading us to more harshly judge those whom we deem more feminine or, to put it more crudely, fruity. It’s derogatory, demeaning, destructive and yet I’ve caught myself doing it plenty of times. It’s why we feel comfortable hurling the term “fag” at one another despite that when you think about it, you realize how horrendous it truly is. We should be building ourselves up, not tearing each other down. Yet we’re stuck in the same cycle.

Hence why I’m left with mostly heterosexual friends of both genders. And while I’m fine with the friends I have, I’d love to make more, with a variety of sexual identities.

I’m lucky to have the friends I do in my life, and if I told my high school self that I would be a proud, out gay man with tons of incredibly cool straight male friends, I would have been shocked. So snaps up to a culture of straight men who can embrace and love a gay man who is proud, because that’s a hell of a lot farther than we’ve been in the past. I just hope that we can reach the point where gay men can be friends without a stigma, without rivalry and without bias.

The X Factor's Simon Cowell

Yes, you were edited to look that way

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Yes, you were edited to look that way – Los Angeles Loyolan.

The X Factor's Simon Cowell

Photo Credit: YouTube | TheXFactorUSA

Simon Cowell is back on American TV. The infamous, cranky Brit who brought U.S. audiences the most popular television program of the past decade, “American Idol,” has returned to the airwaves with his British TV brainchild, “The X Factor.”

The new singing competition created a whole host of expectations this summer and so far has failed to deliver the ratings to match. What it is delivering is higher stakes, more diversity of talent and a seemingly endless amount of sob stories. The show’s format, which pits singers and judges against each other far more aggressively than “American Idol,” also promises a lot more manipulated drama and on-camera fights, both staged and real.

In short, it promises to be yet another reality show full of contrived drama and heavily edited storylines. For someone like me, this is truly wonderful news.

Lest readers of this column think I only enjoy watching guilty pleasure narrative shows like “Revenge,” don’t worry – guilty pleasure reality shows are just as near and dear to my heart, and I’m sure a few of you love them, too. The shows can be prestigious, like “Intervention” or “Project Runway,” or trashy, like “Big Brother” and the “Real Housewives” series. Each has its own merits and each manages to invest its audience without the tools of writing or controllable characterization.

How do reality TV shows still entrance viewers? Why, with the magic of editing, of course! After all, the most commonly uttered phrase by reality TV participants after their show has aired is, without a doubt, “I was edited to look that way.” To which any good reality TV producer would then respond, “Yeah, and what’s your point?”

When an individual signs up for a reality TV show, they are, in essence, selling their souls for the entire period of production. Anything said on-camera is fair game for editing. It is not the responsibility of a TV producer to recreate your true persona as your character. If all reality TV producers did that, the genre would have become extinct shortly after conception.

Reality TV provides an interesting challenge to an editor, one that can’t really be found in narrative form: how do you craft fascinating characters with nothing but statements made on-camera and a smattering of dramatic music? When you find a show that manages to create rich characters, that’s when you know you’ve struck a gold mine.

What reality diehard wouldn’t remember the table-flipping incident from the first season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” or the volcanic argument that erupted between the finalists during the first season of “Project Runway”? What person with a heart didn’t feel it warm when Kelly Clarkson won “American Idol”? These are seminal moments not only in the history of reality TV, but also in the history of TV altogether.

Of course, all these fantastic moments also happened in the first seasons of the programs’ long runs. Perhaps that’s the key, and why such beloved reality programs like “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives of New York” saw their ratings stall in their most recent seasons – the key is to catch a great show early, when it hasn’t quite figured out how popular it is and is completely focused on amping up the drama and creating indelible characters.

So far, “The X Factor” has failed to impress critics or audiences to too high a degree, but I have hope. Despite its pedigree with a producer like Cowell and an extensive developmental history, it is, at the end of the day, a reality show in its first season in the U.S. If all involved would stop worrying about “The X Factor” attempting to live up to its international legacy and focused on creating great characters and an intense sense of drama, it could reach that level of guilty pleasure enjoyment that great reality TV does better than any other genre.

For now, I’m going to keep a casual eye on “The X Factor” while I enjoy other shows. When the mud starts slinging, the rumors start flying and judge Paula Abdul flips a table, let me know. I’ll be the first in front of the TV set to enjoy every moment of it.