‘Love You Mate’—On Guys and Non-Sexual Intimacy

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Dameyon Bonson was a little bummed out after reading what Joanna Schroeder wrote about being bummed out after watching BuzzFeed’s funny new gender-swapping video about how BFFs behave.

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On the surface it does seem like this video is just guys making fun of what women do, dig a little deeper and you will find that the video is just guys making fun of what women do. Because men are affectionate toward each other. Maybe not how some women, yourself, or even how some gay men are. But they are. We are. I’m gay and my affection and my intimacy with my brethren, of both gay and straight mates, isn’t at all like how women are “allowed” to be affectionate or as a gay guy can be — which I’ve debunked here before, its kind of my #NotAllGayMen moment.

I believe it’s how people define intimacy for themselves and how they then project that definition of intimacy onto others with an expectation that that is how (intimacy) should be done.

Guys are only seen to be “conditioned out of touching one another” because the intimacy that is being looked for isn’t what is being seen and people can’t see behind that. It’s kind of like “if they’re/we’re not intimate like women or those gay guys” then they’re/we’re not intimate at all. Bear hugs are the “draping our legs over one another”. As for photos, Bro’s be like ALL over the place with their photos. My facebook page is literally a daily online book of faces and pictures of fellas hanging out (fellas I know btw, otherwise that’d be straight up creepy). I’ve never heard a woman say to another woman “I’m obsessed with you” other then two girlfriends of mine who recently got married and it was followed by and I love you.

For guys it to say, “I’m obsessed with you” would be odd, because it just would be odd, guy odd. So what is mostly said is “Love you mate” and “You too, Bro”. I visit overseas quite a bit and saying good-bye to a mate is heartbreaking because we live 15,000km away from each other. So “catch ya later mate” is filled with all types intimacy, guy intimacy. Yup we bear hug and yup we say love you mate. I personally think it’s terrifying and extremely norm-violating for others when men don’t act out their definition of intimacy. But here’s the thing your definition doesn’t matter.

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I think it’s sad that people put these expectations upon us men, whether we are transmen, gay or straight, (or bi), to conform to their definition of how and who to be.

My straight mates, and my gay mates don’t see anything wrong with non-sexual intimacy. But again, we will define that intimacy for ourselves. I’m 6’6″ and plenty of guys, even those I don’t know, are like, “man I wish as tall as you”. And it’s not unfamiliar to hear a guy go, “Bro those guns are huge”, or “Fuck man I can not pull off jeans like you. At. All.” Or “Man, v-neck shirts suck on me man, they look killer on you though Bro.” (It’s the chest envy).

And how a guy tells another guy he’s not annoying, we generally will buy the next round.

Sometimes, as a gay man, I think it can be a bummer the strictures women and some men place over other men in our society. And also that there’s this Man Box? When really the reality is most of us have already lit the wick on that sucker and are walking away Wolverine style.

 

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So Joanne, what do you think? Do you think you cannot look at men with an expectation to act out intimacy in the comfort of your definition?

Keep up the great work by the way, Joanne. I dig your stuff and I’m glad you wrote what you did. It’s provided me space to express what I’ve wanted to express for a long time. See I am a man and I work with men. This is the stuff I know.

Below is a snippet of a conversation on twitter between three strangers; myself @db_1974, @CameronConaway and @jamesezimoha.

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We weren’t draping our legs over other but we shared a moment. 

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Much respect, Dameyon

PS — To be brutally honest what I am actually really bummed about is that you unfollowed me on twitter.

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You can read Joanna’s article here, and watch the Buzzfeed video here.

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About Dameyon Bonson

Dameyon is a First Nation Australian. He is currently looking at the affect of the compounding aggressions, racism and homophobia, on Indigenous LGBQTI people and the link to suicide using intersectionality as a methodology. He is regularly asked to speak on this topic and he has presented internationally. Dameyon is also Male Health advocate. He lives where he always wanted to holiday, Broome, Western Australia.

Comments

  1. Amy Glass says:

    I agree with you that Western white women especially should stop thinking that their way of doing things is the standard against which everybody else should be judged!

  2. The great British rock band The Who had a famous song on this very thing

    …Meet the new box
    Same as the old box

    And something about not getting fooled again

  3. On one hand I agree that you should get to define intimacy for yourself. On the other hand I think you are glossing over the fact that the methods of intimacy shown in the video *aren’t* available to men – so at the very least if a guy does want to express intimacy in that way, he isn’t allowed to. The man box is therefore alive and well regardless of whether you personally feel restricted by it.

    The final premise of your article is basically that your way of being intimate pans out to all/most guys, who are satisfied with not being able to drape their legs over each other so to speak. This is maybe a bit of a leap – and jars with other empirical evidence that men are bad at building support networks compared to women.

  4. I feel you are missing the point RMNZ –

    A type of intimacy does not define intimacy or whether intimacy is present or not.
    Your point about networking is very important, but again, draping of legs will not help make it so – or maybe you have some empirical data that the draping of legs is more effective for developing intimacy than the bear hug?

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