Straight Guy in Bed With Another Man

In this installment of his “Man Up Mondays” series, Carlos Andrés Gómez confronts the notion that even the most evolved and progressive guys freak out at the idea of sharing a bed with a male friend. 

Few straight women I know freak out about having to share a bed with a female friend. When it comes to the straight guys though, forget about it – sharing a bed with another man is simply out of the question.  Even for my friends who are “evolved,” progressive, liberal and open-minded, it’s a line most will simply refuse to cross. Or they’ll laugh it off and say something like, “It’s no big deal, dude.  You take the bed.  This floor is actually much better for my back.” Really!?  That grimy, beer-stained, cockroach-infested cement flooring is preferable to this plush, high thread-count adorned, king-size bed? You realize we’re just physically sharing a resting space, right?  One that could probably hold eight people comfortably if we needed it to.

But who am I to ridicule any guys for feeling funny about sharing a bed with another man—that was me for most of my life. I wanted to think of myself as one of those groundbreaking, “post-gender” dudes who’d be able to share a bed with another guy and not have it be a big deal.  I guess it’s just never come up, I’d think to myself. Then one day it did.

It was after my junior year in college and I was visiting my best friend while he was abroad. He was staying in a modest home with a family of five. I was twenty-one and broke, had barely been able to scrape together the money for the plane ticket, so an alternative lodging situation was completely out of the question. The house had a persistent rodent problem, so staying on the floor was definitely ruled out. All of the other sleeping surfaces were taken, so it left only one option: sharing a bed with my best friend.

What’s the big deal? I thought to myself, We’ve been like brothers since middle school…plus I’m saving money. It’s the only option. It’s not like we’re sleeping together. And that’s immediately where guys’ minds go: sex. A bed equals a place where sex, romance, intimacy happens. As young men we learn that a bed is a place where we enact and affirm the most primal parts of our masculine identity. And none of those actions are allowed to be, under any circumstances, associated with another man. That’s what I was taught. It is off limits, out of the question. It would be crossing a sacred line, defying one of society’s most unbreakable and heterosexist notions.

The first two nights, I barely slept. It was maddening and absurd. I was sharing a bed with someone I had been best friends with for nearly a decade and I was so overcome by self-consciousness I couldn’t find a way to wind down. For the first time in my life, I became hyperaware of how much space I was taking up. The ironic opposite of how society had entitled me and enables men in general (almost encourages us) to take up much more space than we need. As I like to call it: “man space.” Next time you take public transportation, take a look at how the women are sitting versus the guys. You’ll see a man with his legs spread wide, his arms out, taking up two or three seats, and then you’ll see a woman across from him narrowly occupying the edge of hers, with a child on each knee. It’s a horrifying symptom of patriarchy.

But here I was in this bed, crumpled up as narrowly as possible, so far to my side of the mattress that I was nearly falling off. I was so in my head, each time I would toss and turn, being certain to not to brush my arm against his shoulder or move my foot or legs too close to his side. What was I so afraid of?  What did I fear the consequence might be if we did touch?

As the nights wore on though, I started to let go of some of that societal programming. I thought about the source of all of this anguish produced by simply sharing a bed with another man.  I thought of the sometimes subtle but mostly heavy-handed ways in which I had been socialized to be repulsed by anything even suggestive of male intimacy or affection, how any of the aforementioned behaviors had been ruthlessly policed, shamed, and prohibited. I recognized the profoundly oppressive impact that socialization has on all men. And it’s not solely carried out amongst men but by women as well, with strangers and friends, relatives and colleagues – a conspiracy in which, to one degree or another, all of us are complicit. It was then that I realized the ways in which I had been a part of this conspiracy myself. That the mere discomfort in my chest at sharing this bed was irrefutable evidence of my own homophobia and heterosexism. I could hear the nagging voice in my head: Oh, you think you’re all self-aware, Carlos?  Is that right? You think you’re all socially and politically ‘next-level’? Well, you’re as messed up as the people who disgust you.  

By the end of the two weeks, much of the awkwardness had worn off.  It actually seemed absurd by the last few nights. Why was that so painfully awkward at first? Especially for people who travel like me, often on a shoestring or at the whim of what the universe provides, you might have to sleep in strange places, eat weird foods, and be flexible by necessity. Sharing a mattress? And you think that’s bad?

I was only able to move through the awkwardness of being in a bed with another man after I could admit to myself that I was neither immune to nor above a visceral reaction I considered ridiculous or offensive. For example, have you ever had a subconscious, physical response to something that completely contradicts your conscious, social-political beliefs? Let’s say you see two men kissing and you catch yourself wince or make a face. Or your little brother reaches to hold your hand and you instinctively pull away…like I did. I catch myself doing things like that all the time, which is promptly followed by the dread, shame, and horror of realizing I have a long way to grow. Even if no one notices it, which might often be the case, it can be a humbling moment to realize that you’re not as far along on your journey as a human being as you might have hoped.

But that’s what this discussion is really about – acknowledging, confronting, musing about, and moving through those mountains of foolish, ingrained discomfort in our chests. In acting we say, “You only learn by doing.” And that’s one of my guiding principles, not just in art but also in life. The only way we as men can grow and transcend these silly reactions we have to something as foolish as sharing a bed with our best friend, is by doing. We need the physical reminder of what our body does when we defy what we’ve been conditioned to do.

And, sure, it is awkward at first, just like those first few nights with my best friend but then, maybe, by the end of those two weeks it seems absurd (as it should). Am I suggesting you start sharing a bed with your best friend?  No, not necessarily, that’s not the point of this piece.  Consider it a metaphor for the ways we’ve been brainwashed as men and the work that needs to be done to be freed from it – like making it a point to kiss your son in public or hold his hand or telling your brother “I love you” or crying when you feel moved or admitting when you’re wrong or walking away when some random dude wants to fight you. That’s what this is really about. Embracing the fact that we have so much more to offer this world and making it a point to not allow this constrained “man box” to contain who we are.

Read more from Carlos Andrés Gómez’s Man Up Monday series
Image of a bed courtesy of Shutterstock 

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Carlos Andrés Gómez

Carlos Andrés Gómez is an award-winning poet, actor, and writer from New York City. A former social worker and public school teacher, he costarred in Spike Lee’s #1 movie “Inside Man” with Denzel Washington and appeared in the sixth season of HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.” His first book, the coming-of-age memoir “Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood,”is available now from Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin. For more on the book or to keep up with Carlos' blogging, please visit his website: http://www.CarlosLive.com/ or follow him on Twitter@CarlosAGlive.

Comments

  1. I think that this is mostly an issue in countries where people have become accustomed to a lot of privacy and personal space. The living situations of most people on the planet don’t necessarily give them the luxury of developing this kind of complex. A lot of places like India are generally more homosocial despite being more homophobic (politically speaking anyway).

    I’ve seen a lot of this kind of homo-anxiety growing up, but on the other hand, I’ve also frequently experienced the opposite, where it’s no big deal if two guys are sharing a bed or not.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Bingo. Different cultures have different ideas about personal space, different ideas about sexuality, etc. In some ways, being able to have lots of personal space when sleeping is a bit of a luxury.

      Two male soldiers huddled together asleep in a foxhole wouldn’t ever be considered gay, would they? (I’m not saying they aren’t or can’t be, just that sleeping next to each other is hardly a declaration of sexual attraction.)

  2. “That grimy, beer-stained, cockroach-infested cement flooring is preferable to this plush, high thread-count adorned, king-size bed?”
     
    I would never sleep anywhere that had “grimy, beer-stained, cockroach-infested cement flooring.” I don’t and wouldn’t have friends who would live in such filth, no matter how poor they might be. Poverty and living in filth are not synonymous.
     
    The only people I ever sleep with are my wife and my kids occasionally. There is no reason for me to ever sleep with another man, nor do I want or plan to. If sleeping with another person isn’t an intimate act, women would not be bothered if their SO’s were to sleep (not including sex) with another woman.
     
    “Let’s say you see two men kissing and you catch yourself wince or make a face.”
     
    I just look away. People can do whatever they want. I don’t care but neither do I have to watch.
     
    If you wanted to make the very valid point that it’s fine to kiss your son in public, hold his hand, tell your brother you love him, admit when you are wrong, allow yourself to cry at appropriate times (there’s “a time and place for everything”), you have chosen a terrible metaphor, since I and many, many male friends and relatives feel 100% free to do all of those things but we still don’t want to sleep together.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Eric, just because YOU won’t ever have to share a bed and you live a life where you don’t have to share a hotel room doesn’t mean that many many other men don’t have to. That’s the whole point Carlos is making, he didn’t expect to either.

      NObody wants to share a bed with anyone other than the person they’re into snuggling, but that’s not the point, Eric. The point is that people will go to ridiculous ends NOT to share a bed when it makes no sense. He’s not talking about you leaving your wife’s bed to go down the street and volunteer to share a bed with your friend Billy. He’s talking about the odd and unexpected situations that arise in life.

      Though when you’re young, traveling on a shoestring budget, it happens much more often than when you’re established and have a family.

      • “Eric, just because YOU won’t ever have to share a bed and you live a life where you don’t have to share a hotel room doesn’t mean that many many other men don’t have to.”

        So, where did I say anything about “other men?” If you had actually read my comment before jumping on it, you would have seen that I spoke only about myself, family, and friends. People that I can speak for, not about anyone else.

        Secondly, I did not say that I would never, under any circumstances sleep with another man. But, I have no reason to, and certainly wouldn’t choose to. What I said was I would never sleep in a “anywhere that had “grimy, beer-stained, cockroach-infested cement flooring.”

        Carlos’ point is that our aversion to it is misplaced and shouldn’t be. THAT is his point.

        “The point is that people will go to ridiculous ends NOT to share a bed when it makes no sense.”

        Makes sense to whom? For instance, in the circumstance he mentioned, I would not sleep in that bed under any circumstances, or anywhere else in that house.

        Even when I was a teenager, I would not have spent more than 30 seconds in a place that was “grimy, beer-stained, cockroach-infested”, nor could I have maintained a close relationship with someone who lived in those conditions.

    • Michael Rowe says:

      So, Eric, what you’re saying is that you WOULD, in fact, sleep on the floor rather than sleeping in a bed with another straight man. No problem, just don’t try to make it something other than what it is.

      • Michael, I wrote in VERY, VERY plain English, making clear statements. In my comments here, I NEVER “t try to make it something other than what it is” or equivocate. I am here to inform, not impress, and don’t care what someone else thinks, because I am here to help others to think beyond the mold imposed on them.

        I made this clear statement, “I did not say that I would never, under any circumstances sleep with another man. But, I have no reason to, and certainly wouldn’t choose to.” That is very clear. However, I will simplify and elaborate.

        The exact same statement applies to sleeping with another woman (other than my wife). It depends on the circumstances presented. From my childhood on, I planned to not be in that situation and therefore, have never had to make that choice with either another man or another woman.

        It depends entirely on the circumstance. Entirely. In the the ONLY circumstance mentioned here, the answer is NEITHER. It’s like asking a homosexual man if he has stopped beating his wife, would he marry a woman, and then demanding a yes or no, defining the circumstance.

        Who is the woman (or man) we are talking about? Is the man my brother? Or someone’s drunk cousin I just met? Is the woman my sister, my boss, or my ex-girlfriend? What floor are we talking about? How big is the bed? Is the bed clean? Are there bedbugs? Are we in an unheated cabin in Vermont in January?

        So, as I said I VERY plain English, “”I did not say that I would never, under any circumstances sleep with another man (or woman, for that matter). But, I have no reason to, and certainly wouldn’t choose to.”

        • Typo alert:

          This sentence should read:

          “It depends entirely on the circumstance. Entirely. In the the ONLY circumstance mentioned here, the answer is NEITHER. It’s like asking a homosexual man if he has stopped beating his wife, demanding a yes or no answer.

          Or, without limiting the circumstance, it’s like asking a homosexual man if he would he marry a woman, and then demanding a yes or no answer.

          • Michael Rowe says:

            Actually, it would be like asking a homosexual man if he’d ever share a bed with a woman. The rest of this discussion is just chest-beating about straight men’s insecurity about sharing a bed with another man. The sheer volume of verbiage suggests it’s a truly terrifying concept for some men, bless their hearts.

            • What’s with the obsession of getting heterosexual men in bed with other men? If that’s your thing, go right ahead. Knock yourself out.

              But, we prefer women. Sorry. we were born this way.

            • to be honest, if its just sleeping and not having sex, i prefer with my guy friends than with my girl friends. Well i can have many conversation with him about sports, politics, movies, and about women, etc before sleeping. WIith my girl friend it would be super akward to me. I dont know what to say to her. Maybe because i’m still young? ( i’m in college )

              And yes, i’m straight and i prefer having sex with women.

            • And you’ve completely missed the point of his article, Eric. Your need to take one insignificant detail – a dirty floor – and act as if the article centered around that (or even deeply involved that) proves that the topic either makes you uncomfortable or that it went completely over your head.
              Nobody is trying to “get heterosexual men in bed with other men”. The author took the example of insecurity over having to share a bed with his friend (note the “having to”, as in he had to) and elaborated that into a commentary on how men are socialized in regards to masculinity. I thought it was great, shame it seems some people couldn’t see that.

            • “And you’ve completely missed the point of his article, Eric.”

              Wrong. I captured the point totally. Fully developed human men should want to sleep with other men and be comfortable watching men kiss each other, as just two examples.

              “Your need to take one insignificant detail – a dirty floor – and act as if the article centered around that . . .”

              Sleeping on a roach-infested, beer stained floor would not be an “insignificant detail” to me. Maybe that’s what your used to and it’s thus “insignificant” for you. Well, we’re just different in that way.

              “Nobody is trying to “get heterosexual men in bed with other men”.
              Both the article and some of the commenters here personally attacking me are. For instance, this condescending, insulting personal attack, “The sheer volume of verbiage suggests it’s a truly terrifying concept for some men, bless their hearts.”

              Further, the article cites not wanting to sleep with other men and not wanting to watch men kiss each other as evidence that a man is not “as far along on your journey as a human being as you might have hoped.” The message clearly is if you don’t want to sleep with other men and watch men kiss each other, you’re not a fully developed human being. THAT is what is being pushed here.

              Further evidence is that neither the article or commenters in favor of getting more men to want to share beds don’t take any issue with women and men who are friends not sleeping in the same bed. In most cases, the men will end up on the floor and the woman in the bed.

              If there is no sex involved in either case, there should be no difference. Yet, they aren’t pushing that as evidence that men are not “as far along on your journey as a human being as you might have hoped.” That difference speaks volumes.

    • Wow! Harsh! You are entitled to your opinion but I am also entitled to think it was very bashing as well.
      Whats that old saying…? If you dont have anything nice to say……? Just sayin.
      Lastly I am so very glad that you & your friends have never had to expierience sleeping in an area with “fiflth”. I suspect that is why your views are so narrow, but that would just be a guess.
      Half full for me.
      Peace

      • Would you sleep in a hotel room that was “grimy, beer stained, and cock-roach infested?” What if someone insisted that you should feel comfortable sleeping there, and that there is something wrong with you if refuse to?

        In my opinion,it’s harsh and unreasonable to insist that the average man should feel comfortable sleeping in a place as extremely filthy as the one described, whatever the circumstance.

        My views are completely in line with the majority of heterosexual men, not narrow at all. I stand in no one else’s way to sleep with whomever they choose, wherever they choose.. What I find offensive is the determination of some to force men to sleep with other men, no matter what.

    • Shannon Zetterlund says:

      Eric, you make it sound wrong to sleep in a bed with someone who isn’t your wife. I am a woman, and I would not want my husband to sleep in a bed with another woman on a business trip, but my goodness if he couldn’t sleep in a bed with another man….THEN I WOULD QUESTION HIS SEXUALITY!!!!!!!!!!!

      I just returned from a trip with six other women. We went to a Women’s conference. We left our husbands and children at home. And guess what, we slept….two to a bed. And there was not a sexual element to what occurred. And men should be able to do the same thing. If they can’t….I would have to ask, “Why? Do you not trust yourself?”

      The sad part is…. the author isn’t trying to say….’GO AND SLEEP IN THE SAME BED AS YOUR FRIENDS!” He is simply trying to say that when he slept in a bed with his friend, it seemed uncomfortable at first and that surprised him.

      I am so glad I’m not a guy. I can talk to my friends heart to heart, hug them, sleep in the same bed with them, and even say that I love them…..and all the while be in love with my husband and only have sex with him and love our precious family and five incredible children. I’m sorry to all the men out there who have to be worried about what society might think about EVERYTHING. Wow.

      I LOVE BEING A FEMALE!!!!!!!!!!

      • “Eric, you make it sound wrong to sleep in a bed with someone who isn’t your wife.”

        Where did I ever use the word “wrong?” Ever?

        “I am a woman, and I would not want my husband to sleep in a bed with another woman on a business trip”

        Why not? What do you think would happen? Do you not trust him?

        “but my goodness if he couldn’t sleep in a bed with another man….THEN I WOULD QUESTION HIS SEXUALITY!!!!!!!!!!!”

        He could do whatever he wants as far as I’m concerned. Sleep with another man, his mom, aunts, sisters, whomever. It’s entirely up to him. His choice not mine, yours, or anyone else’s.

        “And men should be able to do the same thing. If they can’t….I would have to ask, “Why? Do you not trust yourself?”

        Men are “able” to sleep with other men if they choose. Or women friends, or their mom, sisters, or whomever. Again, I am not the one trying to tell men who they must or must not sleep with.
        I am an advocate of people doing whatever they want. No one should be forcing, or trying to coerce someone into sleeping with anyone. That decision should be the individual’s and theirs alone.

        The sad part is…. the author isn’t trying to say….’GO AND SLEEP IN THE SAME BED AS YOUR FRIENDS!”

        That’s basically the message. He said that if you don’t want to sleep in bed with another man you are homophobic. If you don’t want to watch men kiss you are homophobic, according to this. If you don’t want to do those things, according to the article, you are “not as far along on your journey as a human being as you might have hoped.” End quote.

        If you have read my comments here, you would know that I don’t care AT ALL about what society, your, or anyone else thinks. I am not governed by the mores of others. I do what I know to be right for me. And, to be clear, I have close friends of both genders with whom I can talk heart to heart, tell them I love them, and hug them. But, I don’t sleep in the same bed as any of them. It’s not necessary to in order to have that kind of relationship. You and he seem to believe that it is. That’s obviously not the case.

  3. Not buying it says:

    I am ; Astonished & bewildered by this article & it’s topic

    So let me see with all the compelling issues facing men, the simple fact that men wouldn’t prefer to sleep together unless out of necessity (soldiers in a foxholes), mountain climbing camps on a ledge, ..etc IS A PROBLEM ???!!!

    Do men have to do what women do? ?? & unless they do they are homophobic? ?.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      If you don’t do it, and you’re in a situation where the options are dire (like Carols’ example)… Then why are you NOT doing it?

      If it were your female friend, but JUST your friend, in the exact same situation, would you?

      If you would wiht your female pal, and not your male pal, then ask yourself why that is.

      • For me, I don’t want to sleep in such close proximity with another man. I don’t want to be touched or touch another man in that setting. As I mentioned, the only person I want to sleep with is my wife but if a need arose, I would far, far, far prefer to sleep with a woman than a man.

        However, as evidence that sleeping with someone is considered by women to be an intimate act, very few would agree to their husbands sleeping with another woman, no sex involved.

  4. For example, have you ever had a subconscious, physical response to something that completely contradicts your conscious, social-political beliefs? Let’s say you see two men kissing and you catch yourself wince or make a face
    So which social-political beliefs are being contradicted by that wincing at two men kissing?

    That you say you’re okay with public acts of affection but upon seeing one you make a face.

    That you say you’re okay with public acts of homosexual affection but upon seeing one you make a face.

    Overall I do appreciate what appears to be your efforts to get us to look at exactly why something like sharing a bed with another guy feels so weird but I worry that in the end you may be trying to replace one form of shaming for another.

    Instead of the current, “You don’t have a problem sharing a bed with another dude? What are you gay?” we are subconsciously encouraging “You don’t want to share a bed with another dude? What are you a homophobe?”.

  5. I’m kinda getting sick of articles like this.

    Not wanting to engage in an (ethically neutral) activity that other people engage in does not make someone a bigot. Hating others for and/or trying to prevent others from engaging in those activities makes someone a bigot.

    I say this as a bisexual man who, obviously, has no problem sleeping in the same bed as other men.

    Ironically, if I *didn’t* want to sleep in the same bed as a particular person I could just say “I’m not attracted to him.” and it would be justified.

    I’m perfectly content with a “live and let live” attitude from straight people, (and gay people, for that matter) I don’t require that they have first hand experience.

    • I see your point, but the author never even implied that men should, or that he is expecting them to, “want to share a bed with a man. Rather the message was “if you have to, don’t be insecure about it because of the way you were socialized.”

  6. lol i thought this article is about straight guy having sex with another guy ( yes i’m straight and i’m bi-curious and i did that )……..but, sorry, just sleeping in same bed with another guy? I dont get the point of this article really, because i never experience all of the anxiousness and awkwardess with sleeping with another guy. I doing that all the time in my life, with my brothers, my cousins, my friends. Really, just sleeping?

    I remember when i went mountaineering with friend. The weather is so cold that night, at the height above 3500 meters and we slept hugging each other in the tent, in the wilderness. No awkardess, just friend. No “brokeback mountain” accidents either :D

    Sorry , but i really dont understand this article. FYI, i’m not american or european, i’m asian.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I think you’d be an exception here in the USA, Han.

      • dont know, but its pretty common that we usually share a bed with brother as a kid right? Even now as an adult, when we go on vacation and me and my younger brother slept in the same hotel room ( its cheaper haha ) i like to cuddle ( in sort of non sexual brotherly act ) with him. Hes cute ( he is in high school now ) and i love my younger brother so much. Is it weird? i think not. Because i like to share a bed with my brother i dont feel any awkwardess sharing a bed with friends. I pretty sure lots of other guys feel the same way as i am, in USA or Asia.

      • Joanna I do not agree with you that Han would be an exception in the USA. I was in the same situation as Han. I was camping with a male friend in the cold weather. We hugged all night to keep warm as we slept. There was no sexual feeling at all but we both felt warm and comfy enough to sleep. You seem a bit homophobic Joanna -although I could be wrong. Here is a good article to read Joanna http://amangoinghisownway2112.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/what-women-want/

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I’m not saying Han’s way is wrong, I just think our society is cultured against it. Would love to hear from more guys.

  7. This makes me think of that “Scrubs” episode where J.D. and Turk share a bed and they put pillows in the middle so that nothing touches and one of them is sleeping the with his head at the foot of the bed and his feet where the pillow should be (for extra insurance!)…I think when they wake up they are spooning and utterly horrified!

    Hee hee!

  8. Lizlovescatsssss says:

    This article resonates with me on a surprising level. I think it’s true that a lot of men have been conditioned to think bed equals sex, a condition that you’re clearly aware of and admit to being affected by (I wish all men had this much self analysis), and I think an interesting question to ask would be, based on your experiences of fear, anxiety, and guilt, how does this translate into the woman’s experience in the bedroom? Also, I think you’re right that women are generally  better at platonic bed sharing but I truly don’t believe we are immune to the same fears. Anyhoo, those are my own generalized, cis-centric views on the matter.

    • “I think it’s true that a lot of men have been conditioned to think bed equals sex”

      I don’t think that’s a man thing, I think it’s a quirk of English (at least the American variety) that influences both genders. For whatever reasons, “sleep with” is most frequently used to to mean “have sex with”, rather than what it literally says – to *sleep* with someone. I think that ambiguity is a major source of the discomfort that some people feel about sharing a bed to sleep with someone else, whether the same or opposite sex – they can’t get over the sexual association. They can’t convince themselves and don’t expect to convince others that “slept with” will mean anything other than “had sex with” if they were to describe it that way. Imagine two men who shared a hotel room, sleeping in two separate beds – would either one be likely to describe the arrangement as “sleeping with” each other? More likely, without consciously thinking about it, they’d say they shared a room, or something like that, because if they said they slept with each other, everyone would know that meant they were in the same bed having sex. Sleeping may just be sleeping, but sleeping *with* has a meaning that’s hard to shake.

  9. There is that fear of inadvertently “crossing swords” – as a friend of mine likes to say jokingly.

    The bigger taboo is a man sleeping in the same bed with a woman as friendlies. They always separate the sexes. Must be even less palatable than two guys in the same bed.

  10. “Few straight women I know freak out about having to share a bed with a female friend. When it comes to the straight guys though, forget about it – sharing a bed with another man is simply out of the question. Even for my friends who are “evolved,” progressive, liberal and open-minded, it’s a line most will simply refuse to cross.
    To draw meaningful conclusions you have to look at all meaningful factors. In principle this “problem” can arise in four different combinations
    A Man is supposed to share bed with male friend
    B Man is supposed to share bed with female friend
    C Woman is supposed to share bed with female friend
    D Woman is supposed to share bed with male friend

    Now you can compare how reluctant the person who is supposed to share the bed in one of those cases compared to anbother. In my experience (averaged over people I know) the ordering from most reluctant to least reluctant is:
    D B A C
    With B and A being quite close and usually guys who are OK with one are also OK with the other.
    If true in general, what does this tell us

    BTW I am from Germany and have never seen this (two guys sharing a bed) to be a big problem. Which makes me think that there are a lot of other factors, other than homophobia, playing a significant role.

    • Agree, I’m Indonesian, and i like to travel to other countires in South East Asia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Even most of guys here like to talk with little bit homophobia like ” eewww, gays!!” , but two guys sharing a bed never been a problem here. I agree with you there are lot of other factors besides homophobia here.

  11. “Consider it a metaphor for the ways we’ve been brainwashed as men and the work that needs to be done to be freed from it – like making it a point to kiss your son in public or hold his hand or telling your brother “I love you” or crying when you feel moved…”
    This sentence is quite problematic, it assumes that the behaviour of many men is a consequence of brainwashing and not just a consequence of their own preferences.
    -Not everybody likes to kiss somebody else in public, it is an intimate act and many people like to have some privacy for those.
    -People should not say “I love you ” more, they maybe should love more. I am perfectly happy with nobody telling me that they love me, but I still want to be loved.
    -Crying is one possible reaction to being moved, why should it have to be displayed?

  12. Carlos- what a brave post! As a 20 year old gay man, I applaud your willingness to confront the discomfort and question your own internalized homophobia and male patriarchy. You might still get squeemish when sleeping in the same bed as another man, but you are so many miles above the millions of straight men who wouldn’t even question their discomfort and sleep on the floor. As a gay man, I find it uncomfortable to sleep in the same bed with a friend because I don’t want to confuse my sex life with my friend life, so in some ways we are in the same boat! Don’t worry, and keep working through the man box. You’ll see- it’s much more round than you ever thought!

    • “question your own male patriarchy”?

      What does that even MEAN?

      So, so far on this site we’ve had articles that infer that men are homophobic for the following reasons: Not wanting to try anal sex, and not wanting to sleep in the same bed as another man.

      When does the “why don’t you want to give another man a blowjob???” article come out? What about the “Why not wanting to have sex with another man makes you a bigot” article?

      And, if we follow this train of thought to its inevitable conclusion “Why straight men should never say ‘no’ to sex. Ever.”

      the bottom line: People have a right to personal space, people have a right to boundaries. Including men. Including with other men. This whole “what are you a homophobe” crap is just that- it’s crap.

      This, contrary to what Addy says, doesn’t loosen the “man box” it just changes the color. “What are you GAY???” becomes “What are you HOMOPHOBIC??”

      Seriously, this anxious handwringing is getting a bit annoying.

      • 8ball – thank you for this.

        So, so far on this site we’ve had articles that infer that men are homophobic for the following reasons: Not wanting to try anal sex, and not wanting to sleep in the same bed as another man.”

        Exactly. The message here is becoming, “if you are an average heterosexual man, are strongly attracted to women and not at all attracted to men, don’t want to have anal sex, sleep with another man, or have any sort of sexual contact with another man, you are homophobic and live in the “man box.”

        • I just want to add that I, obviously, don’t think men should be shamed for sleeping in the same bed either. But, whether someone is uncomfortable being vulnerable (and sleeping IS a vulnerable state) with people of the same (or opposite) gender or not does NOT affect someone else’s rights.

  13. Excellent piece Carlos. There is the subtle message in the staunch heterosexual world that the worst possible thing a man can be (worse than a rapist, killer, or sociopath) is gay. Being gay disrupts the social order and subverts very strict guidelines on what it means to be a man (Man + woman = safe and good, man + man = terrifying to social fabric). We have come a long way since the dark days of homophobia (thank goodness) and yet this fear still persists. When a man shares a bed with another man or shows affection, it threatens his place as a man. Sharing a bed could lead to some latent homosexual desires coming to the surface and what would that do to a man’s sense of self if he identifies clearly as heterosexual. I think in the gray zone, a lot of men could dabble in homosexual practices if it was not so shamed (think ancient Rome). I commend you for taking a stab at this. The man box is so tight and painful to live in. It is essential for men to think outside their box to live a happier, more well-rounded life.

    • Romans didn’t so much care about the homosexuality as the power dynamic. It would be unacceptable for a wealthy patrician to receive anal sex but pretty normal if he gave it, because he wouldn’t be giving up his authority. Similar with oral sex.

      The Greeks were the ones who were more ok with straight up homosexuality, like sex between equals. There was still a huge power dynamic component since they’re the lovely people who popularized pederasty, but for the Greeks, as long as the men were strapping lads, brothers in arms, close friends, or intellectual equals, it was all good. Of course, it depended on which part of Greece you were from, and taking the passive role was still considered taboo.

  14. I remember old Three Stooges films and others of that time like Laurel and Hardy where men would, by necessity, be forced to share a bed. Nobody ever thought Mo, Larry and Curley were gay. More recently, there was the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where Stve Matin and John Candy share a hotel room with one bed. The comedy was in the discomfort they both felt but they got past it yet there was never a suggestion they might be gay even when Candy hadhis hand tucked between “two pillows”.

    There is less stigma, I think, in other cultures when men share a bed. I think it’s a North American thing that has goten worse as the whole backlash increases relative to homosexul rights issues.

  15. I guess its just american thing. Never in my country thing like this become a problem. Lol actually i laugh how guys here debating how this is not homophobic, this is homophobic etc. This article is just about sleeping. Just Sleeping lol!!!!!!!!! Since when sleeping = having sex ???

    You never sleep in bed with a brother, a friend? Well if thats how american guys , i dont really have a problem. Its just weird to me how most guys here afraid to sleep in bed with another guy . Jeez, its just sleeping, not having sex lol!!!!!

    I think its not about homophobic, its just how most you guys think sleeping together is the same as having sex. Well its no different with sleeping alone, its just theres another guy, sleeping too, besides you….whats the different? Well unless your friend is a loud snorer, you can just sleep peacefully like sleep alone.

  16. This seems to be mostly a peculiar American thing. In most countries I’ve been, men wouldn’t even think twice about sharing a bed. Then again they also don’t wear shorts in the showers or hide when changing in the lockerroom.

  17. Hal Baird says:

    I am a married heterosexual man. If out of necessity I had to share a bed with another man, it wouldn’t bother me. In fact many, many years ago I shared a cot with a male friend (talk about togetherness). A friend and I were visiting a college friend of mine. Our hotel room had a bed and a cot for sleeping. When my friend realized it was too late in the evening to hop on mass transit back to his dorm, we invited him to stay over in our room. Thus the sleeping arrangements I described. By the way, the friend is also a married heterosexual man. I don’t think either one of us felt uncomfortable about sleeping together.

  18. Lol.. Very American says:

    This issue is definitely mainly an American thing, as
    mentioned by some other people here.
    Lol.. In all the countries I’ve traveled in the world
    men don’t even think about such things. They need
    to sleep, they just sleep. No insecurities or concerns at all.
    Why the hell should that torment you if you’re “Straight”? Shout!!
    Once you are, you are. Nothing can change that.
    (Unless you’re not really sure.. Lol)
    I FEEL VERY UNCOMFORTABLE sleeping next to people, but
    notice, that is people in “general”!!! No mater the gender or who they are.
    I feel like that because I always have my own bed and never had to share. *And what I’m
    uncomfortable about is not being able to relax the way I want.
    I feel like I have to be civil.. to not disturb the person next to me.
    Which automatically turns into frustration. Lol
    Good thing I only had to do that very little time in my life.

  19. Wanted to add that, your wife having a problem with you sleeping with another woman next to you fear that the woman might seduce you, or you might wake up horny in the night and end up seducing her (if she doesn’t kill you first lol) and you might end up having sex. So there for, she says No way, because she wants all that to be avoided. But notice, it would be a choice if you cheat on your wife because frankly you would be AWAKE then.
    But for a straight man and another man sharing a bed, who cares! You WOULD NEVER start having feelings for the dude. IMPOSSIBLE! You’re straight! Unless you’re not truly “100% on your team.”
    That’s the reason why a wife don’t care if you, as a man, share a bed with another man.
    Because she knows you only love woman.
    If my wife told me she didn’t want to sleep next to another man, I would start asking questions, cause that would be weirds in every levels. And I don’t think any wife would ever say that.
    Imagine how that would sound like, if You told You wife that she couldn’t lay next to her woman friend on a business trip. Or that she is not allowed to go the restroom with her best friends. (lol) You know they don’t go in there to have sex. No one ever think like that. It’s the same thing too, if you’re sleeping on the same platform next to another man, No Big Deal!.. No one would think you are doing something odd.
    I don’t even know why this is even an issue. Seriously, common!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] points about that scenario in his post, “Straight Guy in Bed With Another Man” on The Good Men Project. He talks about his experience traveling abroad and how, despite considering himself “one of [...]

Speak Your Mind