New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, February 20, 2009

Buddies

I'm reminded of a classic episode of the TV comedy hit Seinfeld, where the two main characters, Jerry and George, are mistakenly taken as a gay couple. In order to express their rejection of the characterization but not appear homophobic, the writers came up with the brilliant response "not that there's anything wrong with that." The implication, of course, is that there is something wrong with that, even though the show is set in New York City, a place known for its extremely liberal population and large gay community.
And so it is that even in 2009, many men feel they must justify and defend, even without accusation, any activities or relationships that could be perceived as gay. A male friend(s) is a potentially dangerous association.
Group male activities on the streets on New York are not a common sight and when I saw the men in today's photo jogging together, the first word that came to mind was "buddies", a word often used when I grew up. For many men, using the word "buddy" carried with it enough machismo to deflect any homosexual inferences in advance, "friend" perhaps being a little too personal.
Male friendship activities are pretty well delineated as to what can and can't be done. Touching, for example, is very taboo - removing lint from another's hair has to be done very carefully with just the right posturing. Perhaps safer just to say - "Hey, you have some junk in your hair."
The safest male activities are, of course, group involvement in sports - a sport immediately legitimizes the manliness of its participants and a group best assures there will be no private/suspicious activity. An announcement to the wife that one is going out with some buddies to play ball, carries with it the clearest affirmation.
To this day, men fear being gay or being seen as such and gay slurs are still used by some men as the ultimate insults. I find homophobia rather silly. Women don't labor under these constraints. Displays of affection, walking arm in arm and reciprocal preening are all well accepted without stigma attached. Women realize that mere association with gays or displaying sensibilities which may appear gay has no effect on one's sexual orientation. I have associated with many gays socially, hired them and worked with them professionally.
Personally I think most gay associations and stereotypes are complementary and positive in nature - like appreciation of finer things, fashion, the arts, etc. Things like the Seinfeld comment and TV shows like Queer Eye for a Straight Guy have helped build a more positive image for gays.
Now if I were accused of being gay because my mannerisms were highly affected like that of a flaming queen, perhaps I would be a little more self conscious. Then I may feel the need to contact a few buddies for some male bonding - not that there's anything wrong with that :)

5 comments:

Abe Lincoln said...

I think it is a nice picture.


My Skywatch Post

designslinger.com said...

As always, great photo, excellent writing!

Pablo Kickasso said...

FYI, those grey t-shirts and black shorts are offical U.S. Army physical training or "PT" uniforms.

Love the blog, by the way.

Will Hennessy said...

And then there's the 'metrosexual' category, which is often shunned as well, though not nearly with the same stigma attached.

Many of my 'buddies' see a metro as a guy who is just manly enough to be hetero, but could also be mistaken for gay in some ways, due to those sensibilities which make them appreciate the finer things, art, etc.

Perhaps the 'metro' is suspect to both gay and straight alike!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, where in NYC was this photo taken?